E-mail Electronic Invoices as PDFs – All Your Questions Answered

E-mailing invoices as PDF is the easiest and least expensive way to paperless accounting and is therefore often used by smaller companies. But there’s a catch: A PDF is not a real electronic bill.


Although PDF invoices are sent electronically, they cannot be processed by a machine. This, in turn, means that both the sender and recipient can’t fully benefit from e-invoicing. Ultimately, a PDF is processed like a paper bill, either manually or by Scan & Capture.

That's why Basware offers its PDF e-Invoice solution

Invoice senders create a PDF invoice and send it to Basware by e-mail. There, the data is read directly from the PDF, converted into the desired format of the recipient and delivered to them. The recipient can then process the bill as they usually would, without any additional required steps.

E-invoicing saves time and money for both parties. It lowers claims maturity, decreases processing costs, and improves cash flow. In addition, PDF e-Invoice has the advantage of not requiring integration with the system environment, IT resources, and deployment speed.

What About the Data?

The data is read through an automated process that extracts the text embedded in the PDF and then converts it into XML data—no OCR needed.

Since the solution reads the data embedded in the PDF and does not use the invoice image, the quality of the data is very high with a low error rate—a distinct advantage over the Scan & Capture process for paper invoices.

Basware can read both header and position data, depending on the invoice recipient's configuration. All other tax-relevant information can also be viewed or read through the image, depending on the configuration.

Talk to Me about Mapping

The mapping of the supplier's invoice layout to the Basware standard format takes place when the first invoice is received by a mapping specialist. The process is completely taken over by Basware and is done within a few days. If the layout changes or if the supplier has several layouts, the invoices go through another mapping.

How Do I Connect my Suppliers?

Suppliers do not necessarily have to use a complete connection to Basware. For the recipient customer, Basware sets up a central e-mail address to which suppliers can send their invoices. This typically has the following format: . @ basware.com. To use PDF e-Invoice, suppliers only need to register once. This ensures that the sender's e-mail address is known and the invoices are not rejected.

Tell me about Invoice Archiving

The retention requirements state that electronic invoices must be kept in the format in which they were received as an original invoice. So, if you receive an invoice as a PDF file, this PDF file must be retained, not a paper printout of it. If you receive an invoice as an attachment to an e-mail, then you must keep the attachment. The e-mail itself is only subject to retention if the text of the e-mail contains billing-relevant contents. Think of it like receiving a paper bill by mail—you don’t need to archive the envelope.

E-bills that have been converted into another format after being received by the company must be kept in both their original and converted format. This case applies to Basware's PDF e-Invoice solution, which means that both the PDF and the resulting "real" electronic invoice file are made available for archiving. These can either be stored in your existing archive system or you can make it easy using the Basware Archive.

More Questions?

Our Datasheet Basware PDF E-Invoice provides compact information on the topic. And of course, we are always here for any additional questions you might have—reach out! We’re here to help.

Presales Consultant