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Signed QR Code In E-Invoicing System

The GST council has notified that every taxpayer with a turnover (B2B supplies) above INR 500 crores in a financial year will have to implement e-Invoicing. Under this, the taxpayers have to generate invoices on their internal systems (ERP/accounting/billing software) and then report it online to the ‘Invoice Registration Portal (IRP). The IRP will validate the information provided in the invoices and return the digitally signed e-Invoices with a unique ‘Invoice Reference Number (IRN)’ along with a QR Code in JSON format to the taxpayer.

The QR code generated by IRP has to be printed on the invoice copy shared with the buyer.

In this article, we will help you understand:

What Is QR Code In E-Invoicing?

Quick Response (QR) code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) which is an optical label readable by machines. It contains information about the item to which it is attributed.

Under e-Invoicing, the QR code is digitally signed and sent along with the e-Invoice by the Invoice Registration Portal (IRP) to help users verify the details in the invoice. This code is in Base64 form and can be used by the taxpayer to print the QR code on the invoice copy.

Sample QR code when printed:

E-Invoicing Sample QR Code

Image Source: https://einvoice1-trial.nic.in/Documents/Qrcode_procedure.pdf

Output when the above-seen QR code is scanned:

QR Code

 Sample QR code (encoded):

Sample QR Code

Image Source: https://einvoice1-trial.nic.in/Documents/Qrcode_procedure.pdf

Signed QR code is in the form of JWT and has 3 parts:

  1. Signature parameters
  2. Data
  3. Signature

Sample QR code (decoded):

Sample QR Code

Sample QR Code

Image Source: https://einvoice1-trial.nic.in/Documents/Qrcode_procedure.pdf

This signed QR code can be verified using this public key:

Signed QR Code

Image Source: https://einvoice1-trial.nic.in/Documents/Qrcode_procedure.pdf

Which Details Are Available Within The QR Code?

The QR code consists of important invoice parameters like:

  • GSTIN of supplier
  • GSTIN of recipient/buyer
  • Invoice number as given by supplier in his/her internal system
  • Date of the generation of invoice
  • Invoice value (taxable value and gross tax)
  • Number of line items.
  • HSN Code of the main item (the line item having the highest taxable value)
  • Unique Invoice Reference Number (hash)
  • Digital signature of IRP

When Would The Signed QR Code Be Available?

When a taxpayer reports an invoice to the IRP, the IRP system will provide a ‘Signed QR Code’ as part of the response along with the IRN. If the content of the QR code is tampered, the e-Invoice will become invalid, and the signature verification will fail.

How Is The QR Code useful?

The QR code will provide information about the details present in the invoice it is attached to. With this, taxpayers/tax officers can:

  • Verify and validate the invoice from anywhere at any time, offline, through a mobile app.
  • Capture and record data using machines.
  • Improve accuracy of data input.

How To Verify The QR Code?

Taxpayers/suppliers/buyers can verify the QR code. Also, the tax officers can validate the details in the invoice through this code and be sure that the invoice is correctly reported to the IRP and is accepted by it.

The QR code can be verified using the offline app provided on the IRP.

Download the app here.

Important Pointers

  • The size of the signed QR code, when printed, can be 2 X 2 inches. However, the measure will also depend on the space available in the invoice. The e-Invoicing guidelines require the QR code to be sized in such a way that it can be readable by QR code scanners.
  • Generally, the QR Code must be placed on the top right corner of the invoice when printed/shared.
  • Printing of QR code on a separate paper is not allowed.
  • As mentioned above, the QR code is in JWT form. However, the signed QR code need not be decoded before printing. If it is decoded, the signature of the IRP attached will be lost, thereby making it unverifiable.
  • Taxpayers have to issue invoices under the e-invoicing system for B2B supplies. The documents that should be submitted to the IRP for IRN are:
    • GST invoices
    • Credit notes
    • Debit notes
    • Reverse charge invoices
    • Any other documents as notified by the Government.

Clarification – QR Code On B2C Invoices

Though B2C invoices are not under the purview of e-Invoicing, GST registered taxpayers with an annual turnover (B2C supplies) more than INR 500 crores in a financial year have to generate dynamic QR codes for B2C invoices too, from 1 October 2020. It has also been clarified that, if a Dynamic Quick Response (QR) code is made available to the recipient/buyer through a digital display with payment cross-reference, such B2C invoices shall be considered to be having a Quick Response (QR) code.

The provisions applicable to B2C and B2B invoices are different. For B2C invoices:

  • The taxpayers issuing such invoices, have to self-generate QR codes through QR code generating machines & algorithms and not through the IRP. It can be generated on the Point of Sale (PoS) machine too.
  • This QR code should contain a payment reference link.
  • On scanning the QR code, the recipient/buyer will be redirected to a payment page where he/she can make the payment.
  • The generated QR code has to be included in the printed B2C invoice.

The motive behind the inclusion of QR codes in B2C invoices is to promote digital payments on a large scale.