Legal Environment of Electronic Document Interchange in Russia

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By Ulf Schneider

The specifics and practical aspects of Russian accountancy are very well known to foreign companies that are operating in the Russian Federation. Documents like the “act”, “nakladnaya” and “schet factura” require hours of printing, manual stamping, signing, mailing and storing. The conversion to electronic document interchange (EDI) will help to avoid these issues. The legal environment which allows such a conversion is now completely formed and here is a brief timeline of the relevant legislation.

In 2002, federal law № 1-FZ “On Electronic Digital Signature” was passed. This law provided a definition of an electronic digital signature and equated documents signed with an electronic digital signature to original, paper documents signed by the parties to the contract (replaced on 1 July 2013).

In July 2007, federal law № 149-FZ “On Information, Information Technologies and Protection of Information” was passed. It defined an electronic document as that which is presented in a digital form suitable for human perception as well as for transmission via telecommunication networks or for processing in information systems.

In April 2011, federal law № 63-FZ “On Electronic Signature” came into effect. It provided guidance on how to create and use an electronic signature and the duties of the parties in the exchange of electronic documents. The law defined an electronic signature as information in an electronic form that is used to identify the person signing such information. An electronic signature can be of two kinds – simple and reinforced. Furthermore, the reinforced electronic signature can be unqualified and qualified. The latter requires a verification key to be set forth in a certificate issued by a certification authority that has been accredited by the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media Service.

In December 2011, federal law No. 402-FZ “On Accounting” was passed. This law describes which economic events are to be reflected in the primary accounting documents and which documents can be prepared either in paper form or as an electronic document signed with an electronic signature.

With EDI, the following documents can be sent, received and accepted:

  • VAT-invoice (schet factura)
  • Goods Acceptance Protocol (nakladnaya)
  • Service Acceptance Protocol (act)
  • Unified Document (merges VAT invoice & Acceptance Protocol)
  • Journal of VAT-invoices
  • Sales book and purchase book

In March 2012, the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation issued order № MMV-7-6/172 which sets out the new format of primary accounting documents – a consignment note and an act of acceptance and in December 2011, decree № 1137 of the Russian Government was issued. It sets out formats of the electronic documents.

In January 2012, order № MMV-7-6/36 was issued by the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation. It describes the approval process of the documents used during the issuance and receipt of invoices in electronic format on communication links using a digital signature. This act is considered to be very important towards actual implementation of EDI.

In March 2012, the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation issued order № MMV-7-6/138 which approved the electronic format of the VAT invoice, VAT invoice registers, purchase ledger and sales ledger.

In April 2011, order № 50n was issued by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation. It sets out the procedure for the exchange of VAT invoices in an electronic format.

Through the systematic development of legislation, it’s clear to see how the road has been paved toward the acceptance and usage of EDI.

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