China’s Electronic VAT Invoices
Electronic special invoices are special VAT invoices, and their legal effect, basic purpose, and basic usage regulations are the same as those of the paper special VAT invoices.
Electronic special invoices were initially introduced for newly established taxpayers in 11 regions throughout China since the 21st of December 2020, namely Anhui, Chongqing, Guangdong, Hebei, Jiangsu, Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Sichuan, Tianjin, and Zhejiang while the scope of invoice recipients covered the whole country.
From the 21st of January 2021, electronic special invoices were further expanded and are now applicable for newly established taxpayers in 25 additional regions, namely Beijing, Dalian, Fujian, Gansu, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Ningxia, Qingdao, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Tibet, Xiamen, Xinjiang, and Yunnan, with the scope of recipients covering the whole country.
How can a new taxpayer apply for an electronic special VAT Invoice?
The tax bureau will issue tax U-Keys to new taxpayers free of charge, and provide free online system to public for electronic special invoice issuance, invoice status query and information batch download services upon registration of the new company with the tax authorities.
How to ensure the validity of the electronic special VAT Invoices?
The "Announcement" clarifies that electronic signatures replace the special invoice seal on paper invoices with electronic signatures, and its legal effect, basic purposes, and basic usage regulations shall be considered to be same as those of paper invoices. Businesses and individuals can check the information of electronic special invoices through the national VAT invoice inspection platform, or download the format document reader of VAT electronic invoices through the e-tax platform to check the electronic special invoice and verify the validity of the electronic signature.
Can paper VAT Invoices still be issued?
The "Announcement" emphasizes that after the implementation of electronic special VAT Invoices, new taxpayers can issue electronic special VAT Invoices or paper special VAT Invoices. If the VAT Invoice receiver asks for a paper invoice, the issuer shall issue a paper VAT invoice. If the taxpayer uses electronic invoices for reimbursement and filing, it shall be implemented in accordance with the "Notice of the State Archives and Administration of the Ministry of Finance on Regulating the Filing of Electronic Accounting Vouchers for Reimbursement and Filing" (Cai Kuai  No. 6).
Can companies registered before the new policy issue electronic Special VAT Invoices?
At present, old taxpayers (tax payer established before the above date in various places) can only apply for electronic ordinary VAT invoices，and cannot apply for electronic special VAT invoices. For special VAT invoices, old taxpayers can only issue paper ones.