First and foremost, PEPPOL is a way to send invoices to customers in the public sector. But it is much more than that.
It is an extremely secure, international network that allows your company to exchange business-critical electronic documents with everyone who has registered as a part of the PEPPOL network. And there are already hundreds of thousands of public and private companies that have done so.
PEPPOL was developed as an EU standard. As a result most businesses in the network are based in Europe. However, operators in countries all over the world have already adopted the standard as well – including companies in Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States, to name but a few.
In other words, there is every reason to believe that this may well become the long-awaited global standard – a standard that will make it much easier to complete electronic transactions worldwide.
To date, many countries have been working with their own standards for e-invoicing. You may already have encountered system such as Svefaktura (Sweden), EHF (Norway) and NemHandel (Denmark). These are all standards you have been able to use until now when you had invoices to sent to public sector customers.
However, as from 18 April 2020 all public sector institutions and authorities in the EU have been required by law to receive PEPPOL invoices. This makes it much easier for your company to trade throughout Europe as you no longer need to deal with different national standards.
These national standards will gradually be phased out and replaced by PEPPOL, but for the moment you can choose whether to use a national standard or the PEPPOL standard in a number of different countries. There is no telling how long you will be able to do so, which means there is much to gain by familiarising yourself with the PEPPOL standard if you do business with the public sector.
In addition to sending invoices, you can use the standard to exchange electronic orders, order confirmations, goods catalogues, shipping documents and the like. So if you have plans to do more than “just” send electronic invoices, it is certainly worth considering the PEPPOL standard.
As mentioned previously, PEPPOL is an EU standard for exchanging electronic documents such as invoices. But what does that mean, actually?
It means that the EU has laid down a set of specifications that an invoice, for example, must fulfil in order to be sent via the PEPPOL network. All public authorities in the EU have undertaken to be able to receive your electronic invoices as long as they comply with the stated specifications. You are not limited to sending invoices to public sector bodies, however, because many private businesses can already receive – and send – PEPPOL invoices.
But how can you be sure that the invoice you send actually meets the requirements for a PEPPOL invoice? And how do you send it to the intended recipient?
Well, to do this, you need what is known as a PEPPOL Access Point.
As the name suggests, a PEPPOL Access Point is your connection to the PEPPOL network. It is typically a service you purchase from a service provider. In this way, your business will be able to exchange electronic documents with other companies that are also linked to an Access Point.
It is rather like working with a telecoms provider. When you want to call another person, you simply dial the number and your telecoms provider works with the call receiver’s telecoms provider to make the connection.
There are more than 200 certified Access Points around the world. Together, they form a secure global network you can use to send (and receive) invoices and other electronic documents. You can choose whatever Access Point you want.
When you send your invoice, your Access Point handles the process of transporting it to the recipient’s Access Point. The recipient’s Access Point then forwards the invoice to the recipient.
This procedure is illustrated below. It is known as the “4 corner model” on account of the four parties involved in the exchange: your company, the recipient’s company and your respective Access Points.
When you send invoices via Peppol.com, we serve as your Access Point.
As mentioned previously, you need to be linked to an Access Point to be able to send (and receive) electronic documents using the PEPPOL standard. In order to ensure that all these Access Points deliver services to your company and other businesses in accordance with the technical standards and service specifications laid down by the EU, a number of official PEPPOL Authorities have been appointed. At the moment, there are 13 PEPPOL Authorities based in 13 different countries.
In addition to ensuring that the individual Access Points live up to the official requirements, these authorities are also empowered to set national requirements for the design and content of PEPPOL documents.
Each PEPPOL Authority refers to OpenPEPPOL, the international non-profit organisation that has been given responsibility for developing and disseminating the PEPPOL standard, both in Europe and in other parts of the world.
If you would like to send PEPPOL invoices to your customers, it is extremely easy to get started here on Peppol.com.
As soon as you have created a user profile, you can send invoices to all companies that are already members of the PEPPOL network. Simply use our online invoice template, where you can enter all the relevant invoice information directly, or integrate our platform with your ERP system, allowing you to create and send your invoices directly from your usual set-up.