Universal Business Language (UBL) is a library of standard electronic XML business documents such as purchase orders and invoices. UBL was developed by an OASIS Technical Committee with participation from a variety of industry data standards organizations. UBL is designed to plug directly into existing business, legal, auditing, and records management practices. It is designed to eliminate the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based business correspondence and provide an entry point into electronic commerce for small and medium-sized businesses.

UBL version 2.0 was approved as an OASIS Committee Specification in October 2006 and has been publicly released. UBL is owned by OASIS and is currently available to all, with no royalty fees. The UBL library of business documents is a well-developed markup language with validators, authoring software, parsers and generators.

UBL 2.0 traces its origins back to the EDI standards and other derived XML standards. In total there are 31 documents covering business needs in the phases of presale, ordering, delivery, invoicing and payment.

Northern European Subset – NESUBL

As part of the Northern European cooperation on e-commerce and e-procurement, representatives from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, UK and Iceland have set up a working group for developing a Northern European subset of UBL 2.0 documents. The main focus of NES is to define the semantic use of UBL 2.0 as applied to specific business processes. To achieve this the UBL 2.0 standard is restricted on additional levels by using “profiles” that apply to defined business situations. The use of individual elements is specifically described to avoid conflicting interpretation. Additionally each country has developed guidelines that describe the application of the NESUBL subset to domestic business practices. The goal is to enable companies and institutions to implement e-commerce by agreeing to a specific profile and thus eliminate the need for bilateral implementation. Additional countries have shown interest in joining the work. The NESUBL subset was published in March 2007.

Since its publication, NESUBL subset has influenced government eProcurement initiatives across Europe, for example in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, The Netherlands, Turkey. It is also the basis for a eProcurement initiative, ePrior, by the European Commission, Directorate General’s of the European Commission, starting with the Directorate General for Information Technology (DIGIT).

An excellent analysis of Business Requirements for eInvoicing in a Public Procurement Context is available at [7]

Further development of NES has progressed over to CEN/BII workshop and will be the basis for the PEPPOL project, Pan-European Public Procurement Online project.

The goal of PEPPOL is to run public procurement pilots across borders within the EU, based on harmonised procurement documents developed by CEN / BII workshop.

Spanish UBL version based in facturae

In Spain, UBL is being used primarily for electronic invoice encoding. The UBL Spanish Localization SubCommittee has been actively developing UBL awareness and has created implementation guidelines to allow easy adoption of UBL based on previous work done by CCI (Centro de Cooperación Interbancaria) and facturae.

UBL Turkish Customization – UBLTR

The UBL Turkish Localization Subcommittee customized the UBL 2.0 to be used in eInvoice process in Turkey.

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