How to Issue a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica

With the right tools and know-how, issuing a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica can be a fairly simple process. In this article we will introduce you to the process and requirements to issue a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica from your e-commerce solution in a manner compliant with Brazilian law.

About Nota Fiscal

A Nota Fiscal is a receipt-like document used to register commercial transactions in Brazil, which include trading of goods and services, bank transfers, loans and any other monetary operation overseen by the Federal Revenue Service, known as Receita Federal.

The main function of these documents is to serve as records from which taxation on transactions are based, hence the great amount of attention directed to them by regulatory and fiscal institutions in Brazil. An inadequate compliancy to the issuing of Nota Fiscal makes company’s susceptible to financial penalties and can be considered a crime.

Nota Fiscal Eletrônica

In 2006, the Brazilian government launched an online service for digital versions of Nota Fiscal to be issued. The Nota Fiscal Eletrônica project in its current version encompasses multiple sectors of the Brazilian economy. Some sectors are even required to issue a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica and cannot choose to issue the paper version of Nota Fiscal.

There are currently two types of Nota Fiscal Eletrônica:

  • NF-e: The Nota Fiscal for product trading issued through a digitally registered XML document which is validated by the states Revenue Services
  • NFS-e: The Nota Fiscal for service trading issued through a document called Provisional Services Receipt, which municipal Revenue Services transform into a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica

To better understand the difference between these two documents we need to outline the taxes to which they’re related. NF-e is the basis for the calculation of the value added state tax known as ICMS most commonly applied to physical products, while NFS-e serves as the basis for ISS, a taxation over services directed to municipalities. This is the reason for the different formats and issuing methods for both documents.

NF-e’s follow a general guideline for each state provided by the Federal Revenue Service, while NFS-e’s depend on each municipality and can differ substantially from one to another.

Nota Fiscal Eletrônica Integration and Requirements

In order to issue a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica from you e-commerce solution you will need a digital certificate securing the access between your system and the government's servers. Obtaining the digital certificate is a process that involves multiple steps.

First the company needs to register with their state treasury office known as SEFAZ. The process varies from state to state but generally the process is fairly simple. In most states you can simply apply for the right to issue a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica on the website of the state treasury office.

To obtain the actual digital certificate you must interact with a Certification Authority. The digital certificate is regulated by the National Information Technology Institute, known as ITI Brazil. You can find a completed and updated list of Certificating Authorities on ITI Brazil’s website. The main Certification Authorities being:

The Certificating Authorities can issue both certificates as well as certificates in the form of a physical token so make sure you request the a digital certificate that can be used for e-commerce transactions.

Nota Fiscal Eletrônica Integration

There are two alternative methods for issuing a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica:

  • Software provided by the state treasury office, which are designed for manual interactions
  • API provided by the the state treasury office for integration with automatic systems like e-commerce solutions

There are also third-party integrators that simplify the interaction with the state treasury office’s API and provide value added services around the issuing of Nota Fiscal Eletrônica.

It is important to note that manually issuing a Nota Fiscal Eletrônica can be an overwhelming job even for companies with a moderate number of e-commerce transactions per day. A single Nota Fiscal Eletrônica can require an extremely large number of datapoints, something that makes integration of an API or third-party services a necessity for effective and correct issuing of Nota Fiscal Eletrônica.

Regardless of the issuing method, all Nota Fiscal Eletrônica documents must be signed using the companies digital certificates and receive an Authorization of Use by the state treasury office that certifies the document’s proceedings and integrity. In the case of interstate transactions, the issuing state’s treasury office is responsible for forwarding the document to the receiving state.

Companies who make use of the API are required to simulate Nota Fiscal Eletrônica operations in a Homologation Environment, before enrolling the integration into a production environment. The homologation process tests procedures such as server authentication, digital signing, web services communications and XML validation.

Data Required for Nota Fiscal Eletrônica

From a technical point of view Nota Fiscal Eletrônica is a single XML document which may contain up to 450 different data points regarding information on the transaction it refers to.

The required data for Nota Fiscal Eletrônica includes:

  • Product classification, type of transaction, payment method and total sum
  • Issuer information and contact data: Company name and number, address, phone number and registration with the Federal Revenue Service
  • Recipient information and contact data: Company or private individual name and number, address and phone number
  • Delivery address information and freight charge
  • Information on taxes, such as ICMS, IPI, II, PIS, COFINS, ISS
  • Specific information for vehicles, medical supplies, weaponry, fuel and shipping location for exports

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