The new Polish nationwide e-invoicing system called KSeF has been designed with the intention to streamline and enhance the digital document flow. According to the underlying assumptions made by the Ministry of Finance, the solution should automate some key processes in that field. As of the date of this article, KSeF is not yet obligatory to use, yet there is no doubt it is a topic worth exploring still today. What are the benefits of using KSeF? And which authentication solution would be the best choice?

What is KSeF, the National e-Invoicing System?

The Polish National e-Invoicing System (KSeF) is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that enables businesses to create, send and receive the so-called structured invoices, i.e. such invoices that exist in the electronic format only. KSeF offers its users a client app called Aplikacja Podatnika (literally – ‘Taxpayer App’), designed for taxpayers to create, receive and view e-invoices as well as to manage their user privileges.

Those features can only be used after the user has been authenticated successfully, which guarantees the authenticity, integrity and security of the documents transmitted. One way to accomplish that step is to use a qualified electronic signature or a qualified electronic seal.

Why does using the taxpayer app require a qualified electronic signature or a qualified electronic seal?

Getting started with KSeF is a process that includes a couple of steps.

First, the user needs to get identified (authenticated), which is a prerequisite for being able to log in to the platform and using its features. However, that step is not the only occasion to use the qualified e-signature and the qualified e-seal. The user will also find those services handy in every taxpayer app operation that requires them to prove their identity.

As mentioned earlier, the e-signature and the e-seal can both be used to access KSeF, the Polish state-operated nationwide e-invoicing platform. Further in this article we are taking a closer look at that application of those services.

What is a structured invoice?

You might ask why you should bother and start a technological revolution in your company rather than keep issuing and accepting invoices using traditional methods as you have been doing so far. It must be noted that a structured invoice is an entirely new solution, designed to streamline the flow of documents both within organisations as well as among different businesses.

It can be created either outside the taxpayer app (as long as it complies with its  specifications prescribed by KSeF) or within the app (that option will most likely be used by businesses that do not issue too many invoices per month). The structured invoice is an invoice that solely exists in electronic format and follows the specifications formally defined by the Ministry of Finance. Once filled in and signed, each such invoice is given its own special identifier assigned to it by KSeF, and it becomes available to the party invoiced in the same electronic-only format. Structured invoices can be managed using the software offered free of charge by the ministry – or using any commercial solution that supports them.

The introduction of the single standard for invoices is intended to facilitate the exchange of data among businesses and thus contribute to boosting the country’s economy. Each such document issued by the invoicing party is shared with the other party in real time, which aids companies in automating their accounting processes. The invoice is then required to be stored in the national system for a period of 10 years running from the end of the year in which it was issued.

As opposed to the traditional, paper invoices, the new KSeF-based ‘structured’ electronic invoice cannot be lost or destroyed. The issuer will always be sure it was effectively delivered to their customer or business partner. That eliminates the need to create and send copies of invoices that were allegedly lost or never received.

The Ministry of Finance encourages businesses to implement KSeF now

Although using KSeF for invoicing remains optional until 31 December 2023, it is definitely worth getting familiar with that platform as soon as possible. First, it would be wise to get the employees accustomed to using the new service before it becomes obligatory. EY[1] analysts estimate that larger organisations with complex processes may need as much as a few months to switch their invoicing workflows over to KSeF. Second, the platform offers a large number of convenient features, which enterprises can use to enhance some of their key processes.

For example, KSeF makes it easier to unify and standardise the document flow, as structured invoices do not need to be stored in dedicated IT systems. Already at present, structured invoices, if implemented, enable organisations to benefit from making their processes work faster – all that is needed to eliminate paper (or even PDF!) invoices is the invoiced parties’ consent to KSeF-based invoicing. Moreover, submitting a structured invoice entitles the taxpayer to receiving their VAT refund within 40 rather than 60 days. As shown, benefits clearly speak for rolling the sleeves up right away and transforming the organisation to the new system without any further delay.

The advantages can be seen best if the company chooses to implement a cloud-based e-seal solution for that purpose. ECQSS, for instance, is a service specifically dedicated to enterprises that generate large numbers of invoices and need to keep their online security in focus. EuroCert offers more utilities of that sort, including such services as the qualified signature or the e-seal card.

You will find more details on EuroCert’s solution that can be used for user authentication with KSeF in this article.

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[1] (Article in Polish)