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Created: April 04, 2007.
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UN/CEFACT Releases XML Schema for Cross Industry Electronic Invoice (CII).


An announcement from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) describes the release of an International e-Invoice designed for use by the Steel, Automotive, or Electronic industries, as well as in the retail sector or Customs and other Government Authorities. Mike Doran Chair of the UN/CEFACT Forum Management Group, noted that the Cross Industry Invoice (CII) has the potential to create the necessary critical mass of national and international business and government partners required in order to reap the benefits of the huge savings offered by e-invoicing.

According to text in the CII schema's annotation/documentation element, "The cross industry invoice is an electronic document exchanged between trading partners with a prime function as a request for payment. It is an important accounting document and has potential legal implications for sender and receiver. It is also used in the European Union as the key document for VAT declaration and reclamation, for statistics declaration in respect of intra community trade, and to support export and import declaration in respect of trade with countries outside the European community."

Tim McGrath, Co-Chair of the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee, noted that the first candidate release of UN/CEFACT's Cross Industry Invoice schema provides an opportunity for OASIS to further collaboration with UN/CEFACT.

From the Announcement

Geneva, Switzerland. 3-April-2007

According to a report [by Gartner Group], the total cost of processing paper document invoices is around $125 billion for Europe and North America. Electronic invoicing can reduce that cost by 40 per cent. Why then do paper documents still account for over 95 per cent of all invoices in Europe and the United States?

The main reason is the lack of an international data exchange standard for invoicing.

At its Tenth Forum in Dublin, UN/CEFACT addressed this critical need with the release of the Cross Industry Electronic Invoice (CII). The CII can be used, for instance, by the Steel, the Automotive or Electronic industries, the retail sector or Customs and other Government Authorities.

The CII also covers the requirement for Value Added Tax (VAT) declarations in European Union Member States. It includes account information that enables automatic handling in the accounting systems of both buyer and seller.

The UN/CEFACT CII provides not only standard XML schemas, but also globally consistent invoicing processes and data that are common across a wide range of industries.

When the UN/CEFACT Forum Chair commended project team members on the finalization of the invoice, he noted that the CII has the potential to create the necessary critical mass of national and international business and government partners required in order to reap the benefits of the huge savings offered by e-invoicing.


For further information please contact:

Mike Doran
Chair, UN/CEFACT Forum Management Group
Tel: +41 (0) 22 767 1872

Jean Kubler
Chief, Global Trade Solutions Branch
UNECE Trade Division
Tel: +41 (0) 22 917 2774


[1] UN/CEFACT - The UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business:

[2] Managing Credit, Receivables and Collections, Gartner Group Report. The average cost of invoicing is $5 per paper invoice, versus $2 per electronic invoice.

[3] Dublin Forum:

[4] A total of seventeen Extensible Markup Language (XML) Schemas are being published with the UN/CEFACT Cross Industry Invoice Release Candidate Schema. The schemas include a specific one for the Cross Industry Invoice. Supporting standards being released include: relevant Business Information Entities and Qualified Data Types in the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library 06B, and fourteen (14) new Code List Schemas.

[5] Extensible Markup Language (XML) Schemas provide the means for defining the structure of a document. One purpose is to define the difference between a valid document and an invalid one.

Reference: ECE/TRADE/07/P02
Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

OASIS UBL TC's Collaboration with UN/CEFACT

A posting from Tim McGrath on the "Current Status of UBL's collaboration with UN/CEFACT", together with his "General notes taken during the closing plenary to summarize the current status of various projects within UN/CEFACT, outlines the path to convergence and highlights collaboration:

At the UN/CEFACT Forum in Dublin (26-30 March 2007), work continued to foster integration on a common set of electronic business document standards based on the input and experience of UBL. This involved constructive meetings with working groups focused on harmonization, supply chain, e-procurement, e-government and technical methodologies.

A cross-domain project has been approved to further review public sector e-procurement requirements, providing a path for input from an envisaged workshop on "Implementation of electronic public procurement in Europe" (CEN/ISSS WS/ePPE). This will include profiles developed in the context of implementations of UBL in Northern Europe and Spain. We see the first candidate release of UN/CEFACT's Cross Industry Invoice schema (here) as an opportunity to further this collaboration...

Other UN/CEFACT Activities

The 10th United Nations-CEFACT Forum was held in Dublin, Ireland on March 26-30, 2007. Reports are being filed about key outcomes, including Closing Plenary slides.

Other UN/CEFACT Activities:

  • Core Components. UN/CEFACT Techniques and Methodologies Group (TMG) is one of the five Permanent Working Groups of UN/CEFACT. The Group produces trade facilitation and electronic business recommendations and technical specifications to advance global commerce continuing the work of the former TMWG, such as the Core Component Technical Specification (CCTS) and the UN/CEFACT Modelling Methodology (UMM). The Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) describes and specifies a new approach to the well-understood problem of the lack of information interoperability between applications in the e-business arena. Traditionally, standards for the exchange of business data have been focused on static message definitions that have not enabled a sufficient degree of interoperability or flexibility. The CCTS presents a methodology for developing a common set of semantic building blocks that represent the general types of business data in use today and provides for the creation of new business vocabularies and restructuring of existing business vocabularies. The CCTS can be employed wherever business information is being shared or exchanged amongst and between enterprises, governmental agencies, and/or other organisations in an open and worldwide environment...."

    "A key aspect of CCTS is the expression of the lowest level of data types, such as amount, binary object, code, date, date time, identifier, name, percent, time and text. The current version of CCTS only defines conceptual Core Component Types without providing the necessary details to ensure consistency in application. CCTS also states that future versions of the CDTs would be published separately from CCTS. The CDT project will take the work of TMG in this area, align it with the specific requirements of the EDIFACT and XML syntax, and publish the new CDT specification..." See UN/CEFACT Core Components Technical Specification references from SAP AG.

  • UNeDocs. On April 02, 2007, the UN/CEFACT TBG2 Working Group approved the UNeDocs Data Model 2.0 and submitted the Data Model for public review as of ODP step 5. The UNeDocs Project (Digital Paper Working Group - TBG2) "aims to strengthen UN/CEFACT's traditional trade facilitation agenda by applying a holistic approach to trade documents, based on the coordination of Trade Facilitation and eBusiness layers and to enable the development of simple low-cost solutions to support the generation and exchange of standardised paper and/or electronic international trade documents by implementing existing standards and recommendations." According to UN/CEFACT/TBG/TBG2 Digital Paper/UNeDocs, "The UNeDocs Data Model has been built up using core component building blocks from the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library. This means that it includes trade, transport and Customs related information such as the names and addresses of the seller, the buyer, the consignor, the consignee etc. It also includes total and item level weights, as well as commodity and product information, such as price, quantity and cost. The UN/CEFACT Core Component Library (CCL) is published every six months and is given a unique version number. These library versions can be used by anyone who wants to build a data model based on international standards. And, by becoming involved in UN/CEFACT, any organisation is able to request that their business information is included in the library."

  • eTendering XML Schema. "The Forum published the suite of XML documents for electronic tendering/bidding across industries The Applied Technologies Group published as a Release Candidate Standard the 20 eTendering XML Schema. These schemas provide a robust XML-based eTendering solution for the global construction industry. Additionally, the first version of the UN/CEFACT Common Reusable Schema for tendering has also been completed and given Release Candidate status. This Schema consists of XML expressions of all eTendering Business Information Entities. This Schema consists of XML expressions of all eTendering Business Information Entities (BIEs). These BIEs will be a part of the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library." [from: UN/CEFACT Quarterly Report Volume 2, Number 3 (December 2006)]

  • Naming and Design Rules. Organizations work towards a common XML Schema Naming and Design Rules Technical Specification (NDR) The UN/CEFACT NDR Technical Specification provides the way to define and use business information in XML schemas. It is a key specification to enhance the end-to-end exchange of information between the buyer and the seller. Several vertical standards organizations have expressed their interest in working collaboratively with ATG to develop the next version of the XML NDR document. The Joint Automotive Industry, for example, would like to see convergence between the UN/CEFACT XML NDR and those of the Open Applications Group, Inc.(OAGi). The OAGi NDR specification is actually a subset of the CEFACT NDR, but with several minor differences. Other standards bodies are also looking for convergence, and are eager to transition to a single, UN/CEFACT-published set of XML Schema NDRs. In addition to working on this convergence, the next version of the NDR will be aligned and published in conjunction with the next version of the Core Components Technical Specifications. Thus these two important specifications will be in perfect alignment, and will allow for the rapid advance of UN/CEFACT XML solutions..." [from: UN/CEFACT Quarterly Report Volume 2, Number 3 (December 2006)]

About United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business

UN/CEFACT, a United Nations body, has a global remit. It encourages close collaboration between governments and private business to secure the interoperability for the exchange of information between the public and private sector.

The United Nations, through its Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), supports activities dedicated to improving the ability of business, trade and administrative organizations, from developed, developing and transitional economies, to exchange products and relevant services effectively. Its principal focus is on facilitating national and international transactions, through the simplification and harmonisation of processes, procedures and information flows, and so contribute to the growth of global commerce. This is achieved by:

  • Analysing and understanding the key elements of international processes, procedures and transactions and working for the elimination of constraints

  • Developing methods to facilitate processes, procedures and transactions, including the relevant use of information technologies

  • Promoting both the use of these methods, and associated best practices, through channels such as government, industry and service associations

  • Coordinating its work with other international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), notably in the context of a Memorandum of Understanding for a Global Facilitation Partnership for Transport and Trade

  • Securing coherence in the development of Standards and Recommendations by co-operating with other interested parties, including international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. In particular, for UN/CEFACT Standards, this coherence is accomplished by cooperating with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and selected non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the context of the ISO/IEC/ITU/UNECE Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). These relationships were established in recognition that UN/CEFACT's work has broad application in the areas beyond global commerce and that interoperability of applications and their ability to support multi-lingual environments, are key objectives.

Principal References

  • Cross Industry Invoice Schema:

    • Announcement 2007-04-03: "UN/CEFACT Releases International e-Invoice." Reference: ECE/TRADE/07/P02. [PDF source and HTML; cache]
    • XML Schema. From the UN/CEFACT 'News' page: "3 April [2007]: Press release — UN/CEFACT Releases International e-Invoice (XML Schema)." See the file listing
    • Cross Industry Invoice schema - From the ZIP file, which contains 50 (.xsd) schemas, including "CrossIndustryInvoice_1p0prc.xsd" and its targetNamespace="urn:un:unece:uncefact:data:draft:CrossIndustryInvoice:1". Information provided in the schema annotation/documentation element: Cross Industry Invoice Schema Module. Schema agency: UN/CEFACT. Schema version: 1.0. Schema date: 29-March-2007. CCTS UniqueID: UNMCII1. CCTS Acronym: CII. CCTS Name: CrossIndustryInvoice.
    • Meeting Notes from UN/CEFACT Forum March 2007, by Tim McGrath. 5-April-2007. [source]


    • About UN/CEFACT

    • List of Trade Facilitation Recommendations

    • UN/CEFACT Forum Management Group (FMG). "The Forum Management Group was established in September 2004 after a restructuring of the UN/CEFACT organization in May 2004. The FMG is directly responsible for the management of the Forum. Its responsibilities include executing the programme of work of the Forum approved by the Plenary, ensuring coordination of related work among PGs, preventing any work duplication among PGs, reporting to the Bureau; preparing the UN/CEFACT Forum meetings... UN/CEFACT is in the unique position to create Global eBusiness standards for the purpose of facilitating trade world wide. In cooperation with OASIS it has created the ebXML standard, which is leading the world into a new era, where business will be done over the Internet and businesses and governments will collaborate at a higher level to achieve the largest cost savings."

    • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). "UNECE strives to foster sustainable economic growth among its 56 member countries. To that end UNECE provides a forum for communication among States. It provides analysis, policy advice and assistance to governments, it gives focus to the United Nations global mandates in the economic field, in cooperation with other global players and key stakeholders, notably the business community. The UNECE also sets out norms, standards and conventions to facilitate international cooperation within and outside the region. The area of expertise of the UNECE covers such sectors as: economic cooperation and integration, energy, environment, human settlements, population, statistics, timber, trade, and transport."

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