ESAP - Business processes using electronic data interchange

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Unsold items that are returned, for example Christmas Cola, often come from different orders and are thus the subject of different invoices (one per order). Since it is not possible to refer to a single invoice, an invoicing period must be used in the credit note which covers the relevant invoices. Here is an example:

Credit returned unsold items (.pdf)

If the unsold items can be associated with a specific delivery/invoice then this can be referred to in the usual way in the credit note. (No example is given here for this alternative).

There are several ways to credit damaged goods:

- By crediting an entire invoice and issuing a new one which does not include the damaged goods. Here is an example:

Credit damaged goods, alternative 1 (.pdf)

- By crediting only the row(s) with the damaged goods. No new invoice is issued. Here is an example:

Credit damaged goods, alternative 1 (.pdf)

If an order is split into several deliveries, credit lines can be used in the next invoice (within the same order) until delivery is complete. Crediting damaged goods in the next invoice which relates to a different order is not recommended since it violates the rule that one invoice may only relate to one order.

The supplier uses a call-off confirmation with changes (ESAP 6) or an order confirmation with changes (ESAP 20) to inform the buyer about changes to the call-off or order. The supplier might e.g. want to change the delivery date or quantity. The following examples show how various types of changes are handled with call-off/order confirmation with changes.

Example 1: Entire call-off/order delivered on a different date from that requested (.pdf)

Example 2: An ordered item is delivered on a different date from that requested (part.delivery) (.pfd)

Example 3: Entire call-off/order delivered on a different, unknown, date from that requested (back-ordering) (.pdf)

Example 4: Some quantity of an item in a call-off/order delivered on a different date from that requested (part-delivery) (.pdf)

Example 5: Some quantity of an item in a call-off/order delivered on a different, unknown, date from that requested (back-ordering) (.pdf)

Example 6: Some quantity of an ordered item is rejected (will not be delivered) (.pdf)

Example 7: An ordered item is completely rejected (will not be delivered) (.pdf)

Example 8: All items are rejected (the entire call-off/order is rejected) (.pdf)

Example 9: An ordered item is replaced by a different one (.pdf)

Example 10: An ordered item is partially replaced by a different one (.pdf)

Example 11: An ordered item is partially replaced by a different one. Some quantity of the ordered item will not be delivered at all (.pdf)

Example 12: An ordered item is partially replaced by a different one which will be delivered at a later date. Some quantity of the ordered item will not be delivered at all (.pdf)

For a trader who is required to keep accounts, all invoices - both the ones received and the ones issued - are accounting information. This means that invoices must be kept for the calendar year in which the fiscal year ended and a further seven calendar years.

Electronic invoices that a company has received shall be maintained in the condition they were in when they were received, i.e. in machine readable form. It is permitted to transfer information in invoices to another machine-readable medium.

Electronic invoices that a company has issued shall in principle be saved in the state they were when they were compiled. This means that issued electronic invoices are archived in machine-readable form.

The contents of the received data file, i.e. the data in the electronic invoice, may be transferred and converted to another format on another machine-readable medium at the recipient. If this is done in a secure manner, i.e. that no information is changed in connection with the transfer and conversion process, the originally received data file need not be saved and archived.

Note that data in codified form in the received electronic invoices must be translated into plain language for it to be subsequently possible to read and understand the information in the invoice in ordinary readable form.

Sometimes the expression “original invoice” is used for an e-invoice that has been received, for example, in EDIFACT format and following receipt converted into a format that makes the data readable by a reviewer.

Accounting and tax law uses the term “original content in an electronic invoice” instead. Original content means:

  • information that the invoice issuer included to meet the requirements for mandatory information under the Bookkeeping Act and the VAT Act, and
  • further data required for the invoice to work as a business document.

Further data refers to information necessary to obtain payment from a buyer of goods or services, such as vendor’s/supplier's identity, due date for payment, etc. If this information is received in electronic form, the recipient is obliged to preserve them in machine-readable form.

It is permitted to transfer and convert data into a format that is suitable for the recipient's system, provided that the data are not altered in connection with the transfer and conversion.

The recipient is free to print out the data in ordinary readable form for internal administrative processing, but it is the original content of the received machine-readable form which must be archived for inspection and examination afterwards. If additional notes are made on the printed invoice which are accounting information, such as account numbers, then the printed invoice must also be saved and given a reference to the electronic invoice.

Yes, it is permissible under certain conditions specified in the VAT Act (ML), Bookkeeping Act (BFL) and the Accounting Board (BFN) guidelines and general advice.

A company may store electronic invoices and keep hardware and systems available in another country within the EU if:

  1. the place for storage and any changes are notified to the tax authorities, and
  2. the company, on request by the tax or customs authorities, allows instant electronic access to accounting information for control purposes during the archiving period, and
  3. the company by instant printing can provide information in the electronic invoices in Sweden in normal readable form or microfilm/fiche.

If archiving is managed by a service provider, the contract should state that the provider handles bookkeeping and archiving according to Swedish law. That's because the Swedish company retains responsibility for accounting and archiving being done legally even when the duties are performed by external service provider abroad.

Encryption of electronic invoices and other accounting information may only be done if this is justified for security and throughout the filing period information can immediately be presented in clear text.

Depending on these requirements your company should consider carefully whether encryption of electronic invoices can be considered appropriate since, among other things the encryption keys must be retained throughout the filing period and that an external auditor without delay can request information be made available in plain readable form.

The Accounting Board believes that if the company cannot guarantee that accounting information can be immediately presented in plain language, encryption should not be done. Instead, administrative controls should be used to protect the data from being changed during the archiving period.

There is no legal requirement in Sweden that invoices must be archived in Swedish. Using ESAP and EANCOM (UN/EDIFACT) gives advantages since most of the information is stated in coded form. The result is that an invoice from a company outside Sweden to a company in Sweden can largely be archived in Swedish.

In most cases the only archived document is the invoice. But if the details of what is delivered are included in a separate notice (invoice specification) then the separate notice must also be archived.

No, there is no legal requirement in Sweden to use electronic signatures when archiving invoices.