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HMRC internal manual

VAT Traders’ Records Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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VAT invoice: issuing: Transmission of invoices by e-mail

The obligation to issue an invoice is met by its transmission by e-mail, so there are no grounds upon which to require the issue of a hard copy.

E-mail may be a form of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and is therefore covered by the VAT Act 1994, schedule 11, paragraph 3, which regulates computer invoicing. Whilst the unstructured e-mail message format does not lend itself to our normal EDI practice of requiring control totals, the majority of messages can now be structured files and can be reconciled. The recipient may print off the received invoice in hard copy or keep it as an electronic file. This document (which is effectively an original) is acceptable for input tax purposes, subject to the normal rules of entitlement.

Technology improvements now mean there is little risk of the corruption of the transmission resulting in an illegible document but this may occur on rare occasions. It is more likely to be a failed delivery rather than corrupted information. However, it is expected that in such circumstances the customer would request a fresh transmission for his own accounting purposes.

Again, selective checks on orders, payment of invoices etc would be advisable as a measure against the risk of double claiming.