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Definition of XRechnung

XRechnung is a standardized electronic invoice format that is used in Germany. It is an XML-based format that was specially developed for electronic invoicing in the public sector.

With Directive 2014/55/EU, the European Commission commissioned the European standardization committee CEN to develop a Europe-wide standard for a semantic data model for electronic invoicing. The resulting EN-16931 contains two permissible syntaxes (XML schemas) for electronic invoicing:

  • UBL (Universal Business Language)
  • And CII (UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice)


Based on EN-16931, corresponding regulations have been implemented in the individual EU countries that govern electronic invoicing in public administration. In Germany, the Coordination Office for IT Standards (KoSIT) has developed the so-called XRechnung format in collaboration with the IT Planning Council.

The XRechnung standard defines three aspects of the invoice:

  • Format
  • Data Structure and
  • Semantics

XML Example

The XRechnung is sent in xsd files. They contain the structured data, which is structured as follows:

The image shows an XRechnung example for version 3.0.1. and is available in full on the website of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Home Affairs.



XRechnung is updated regularly, approximately every six months. Companies then have a transition period until they have to incorporate the new version. The current version is 3.0.1, which came into force on February 1, 2024 (as of April 2024). There will be no normative release and therefore no version change in summer 2024. XRechnung 3.0. will therefore remain in force until at least 31.01.2025.

Conformity with the XRechnung format

Other data formats can also be compliant with XRechnung if they are issued, transmitted and received as an XML document that is valid against the standard and only uses the information elements of the semantic data model of the XRechnung standard. For example, the ZUGFeRD 2.1.1. profile “XRechnung” generates invoices that are compliant. In addition, ZUGFeRD creates a PDF for the XRechnung that is human-readable. You can find more information about ZUGFeRD here.

Four points are determined during a conformity check for the XRechnung standard:

  • 1

    The invoice can contain embedded objects (invoice-related documents), but is not itself an embedded object.

  • 2

    The invoice is a valid instance of the XML schema definitions specified in EN 16931-2 (list of syntaxes that fulfill EN 16931-1).

  • 3

    The invoice is valid with regard to the business rules specified by the XRechnung standard and their technical implementation.

  • 4

    The invoice uses all information elements according to their semantic description given in the standard.

Necessary Invoice Data

An XRechnung must contain the following details:

Create XRechnung

You have several options for creating XRechnung:

  • Via external service providers

  • Manually via a portal using a web form or

  • Directly from your own ERP system (e.g. Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, etc.), if necessary with a corresponding conversion solution

Sending XRechnung

XRechnung invoices can be sent via special invoice receipt or issue systems, via electronic data transfer protocols such as PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online), by email with an attached XML file or via web portals. The recipient can then directly process the invoice digitally and start the invoice workflow in the respective software. You can read about the steps involved in this electronic invoice workflow here.

When transmitting to public bodies, the requirements vary between the federal states in Germany. These must be checked in advance. Invoices to the federal government can be sent via the central invoice receipt portal (ZRE).


Archiving XRechnung

XInvoices can be archived electronically using an audit-proof archiving system. This reduces the costs and organizational effort of archiving enormously. A suitable eArchive is, for example, SharePoint / Microsoft 365.

Advantages of XRechnung

There are numerous reasons for using XRechnung, including

Reduction of processing times and costs
Reduced susceptibility to errors due to extensive automation
Faster throughput times and the associated positive effects, such as easier compliance with discount deadlines
End-to-end digital process without media discontinuity
Easier transparency for everyone and overview of the status of invoices

Mandatory e-invoice in Germany 2025

From 01.01.2025, the mandatory electronic invoice for B2B transactions will apply to all companies based in Germany. The XRechnung format meets the defined requirements and can be used by companies.


Digitization topics explained in a nutshell

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a technology that enables the exchange of business documents between companies in a standardized electronic format. Structured data is transferred directly from the sender’s ERP or accounting system to the recipient’s corresponding system.

More about EDI

EDIFACT is an international EDI standard developed by the United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE), which provides a universal structure for data exchange. The standard is widely used not only, but especially in Europe.

More about EDIFACT

XRechnung is a standardized electronic invoice format that is used in Germany. It is an XML-based format that was specially developed for electronic invoicing in the public sector.

More about XRechnung

ZUGFeRD is a hybrid e-invoice format consisting of a machine-readable XML file and a PDF. The abbreviation stands for “Zentraler User Guide des Forums elektronische Rechnung Deutschland”.

More about ZUGFeRD