ZUGFeRD compliant electronic invoices and ABBYY SDKs

What is ZUGFeRD?

ZUGFeRD is a standartised format for electronic invoces that was established in Germany in 2014. Usage of ZUGFeRD compliant invoices should simplify the invoicing processes, allow automatic invoice processing and save cost to companies and authorities.

What is a ZUGFeRD compliant invoice?

A ZUGFeRD compliant invoice consist of two parts:

  • Visual representation for humans (in form of PDF/A-3)
  • Machine-readable structured data (data in XML format, which is added to the PDF/A-3 as attachment).

In other words the PDF/A-3 is a container for both the visual representation as well as for the structured data in XML format.

ABBYY FineReader Engine and ZUGFeRD

Since the release 3 of ABBYY FineReader 11 for Windows and Linux, the Software Development Kit offers two features, which are related to the ZUGFeRD format:

  • Possibility to export to PDF/A-3

PDF/A-3 is an extension of the A-2 standard which allows inclusion of files in a variety of binary formats such as XML or Office formats. The new e-invoice format defined by the Forum for Electronic Invoices in Germany is based on PDF/A-3 and XML.

  • Possibility to add and extract attachments from PDFs and PDF/A documents

The SDK offers the possibility to extract attachments (such as XML data) from input PDF files and to add attachments (such as XML data to the output PDF files. The attachments are extracted from the input PDF document during opening. During the export step own files can be attached to the output PDF file.


How are the new features relevant when processing or creating documents according to the ZUGFeRD standard?

  • Input Step: ABBYY FineReader Engine libraries allow to access PDF/A files and separate out attachments. This way the XML data embedded in ZUGFeRD compliant invoices can be extracted and provided to other systems.
  • Output Step: ABBYY FineReader Engine supports export to PDF/A-3. Any document in PDF format can be exported by ABBYY FineReader Engline as PDF/A-3 document, providing visual representation and the XML data as an attachment. These XML data can than be used by other IT systems.

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