Universal Business Language
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Universal Business Language (UBL) is an open library of standard electronic XML business documents for procurement and transportation such as purchase orders, invoices, transport logistics and waybills. 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 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 version 2.0 was approved as an OASIS Standard in October 2006. Version 2.1 was approved as an OASIS Standard in November 2013 and an ISO Standard (ISO/IEC 19845:2015) in December 2015. Version 2.2 was approved as an OASIS Standard in July 2018. Version 2.1 is fully backward compatible with version 2.0, but it adds 34 new document schemas, bringing the total of business document types defined by UBL to 65. Version 2.2 is fully backward compatible with version 2.1, and it adds another 16 document types for a total of 81.
Ontologies are used to describe markup languages for business workflows. UBL is only one option to map e-business processes into an OWL description.
UBL 2.2 - http://docs.oasis-open.org/ubl/os-UBL-2.2/UBL-2.2.html (Published 09 July 2018)
UBL 2.1 as ISO/IEC 19845:2015 - http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards/
UBL 2.1 (ISO/IEC 19845:2015) and UBL 2.2
OASIS UBL Technical Committee and ISO/IEC 19845 Maintenance Agency
The OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the OASIS Standard and has been designated the maintenance agency for ISO/IEC 19845. The maintenance governance procedures describe how committee and non-committee members contribute to the development of the specification.
Business processes described and supported in UBL
Business process support originating with UBL 1.0 (2004)
Ordering, Fulfilment, Billing
Business process support added in UBL 2.0 (2006)
Catalogue, Quotation, Payment, Statement, Transport Services, Certificate of Origin
Business process support added in UBL 2.1 (2013)
eTendering, Vendor Managed Inventory, Intermodal Freight Management, Utility Billing, and Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, Replenishment and e-Invoice / e-Archive and e-Ledger in Turkey
Business process support proposed to be added for UBL 2.2
Weight Statement, Business Directory, eTendering
Standard document types defined by UBL
Document types originally defined in UBL 1.0 (2004)
Order, Order Response, Order Response Simple, Order Change, Order Cancellation, Despatch Advice [Advance Ship Notice], Receipt Advice, Invoice
Document types added in UBL 2.0 (2006)
Added document types for sourcing: Catalogue, Catalogue Deletion, Catalogue Item Specification Update, Catalogue Pricing Update, Catalogue Request, Quotation, Request for Quotation
Added document types for fulfillment: Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, Forwarding Instructions, Packing List, Transportation Status, Waybill
Added document types for billing: Credit Note, Debit Note, Freight Invoice, Reminder, Self Billed Credit Note, Self Billed Invoice
Added document types for payment: Remittance Advice, Statement
Added supplementary document types: Application Response, Attached Document
Document types added in UBL 2.1 (2013)
Added document types for eTendering: Awarded Notification, Call for Tenders, Contract Award Notice, Contract Notice, Guarantee Certificate, Tender, Tender Receipt, Tenderer Qualification, Tenderer Qualification Response, Unawarded Notification
Added document types for Collaborative planning, forecasting, and replenishment: Exception Criteria, Exception Notification, Forecast, Forecast Revision, Item Information Request, Prior Information Notice, Trade Item Location Profile
Added document types for Vendor Managed Inventory: Instruction for Returns, Inventory Report, Product Activity, Retail Event, Stock Availability Report
Added document types for Intermodal Freight Management: Goods Item Itinerary, Transport Execution Plan, Transport Execution Plan Request, Transport Progress Status, Transport Progress Status Request, Transport Service Description, Transport Service Description Request, Transportation Status, Transportation Status Request
Added document type for Utility billing: Utility Statement
Added supplementary document types: Document Status, Document Status Request
Document types proposed for UBL 2.2 - http://docs.oasis-open.org/ubl/UBL-2.2.html
Added document types for eTendering: Enquiry, Enquiry Response, Expression Of Interest Request, Expression Of Interest Response, Qualification Application Request, Qualification Application Response, Tender Contract, Tender Status, Tender Status Request, Tender Withdrawal, Unsubscribe From Procedure Request, Unsubscribe From Procedure Response
Added document types for transportation: Weight Statement
Added document types for business directories and agreements: Business Card, Digital Agreement, Digital Capability
UBL 2.1 as ISO/IEC 19845:2015 - http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards/
The OASIS UBL 2.1 specification has been approved as ISO/IEC 19845 as of 2015-12-15:
The OASIS UBL 2.2 specification has been approved as an OASIS Standard as of 2018-07-09. Work is underway to revise ISO/IEC 19845 accordingly.
UBL 2.3 requirements gathering - per governance rules at http://docs.oasis-open.org/ubl/UBL-Governance/v1.0/cn01/UBL-Governance-v1.0-cn01.html
The UBL Technical Committee agreed to begin accepting new suggestions for consideration in a future UBL 2.3, with a target final publication of December 2019. The release will be the first to incorporate the input from the UBL Payments and Finance Subcommittee established in June 2017.
Subsets and customizations of UBL
Danish subsets: OIOXML and OIOUBL
In December 2003 Denmark legislated the mandatory use of a customization of UBL 0.7, using the OIOXML specification, for electronic invoicing for government procurement starting February 2005. In March 2010 Denmark legislated the mandatory use of a customization of UBL 2.0, using the OIOUBL specification.
In 2011 the Danish government documented savings of €500,000,000 having used UBL.
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 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 an eProcurement initiative, ePrior, by the European Commission, Directorate General's of the European Commission, starting with the Directorate General for Information Technology (DIGIT). It is also the basis of the syntax for business documents created by the CEN/BII (Business Interoperability Initiative).
European-wide deployment of UBL in PEPPOL
PEPPOL, the Pan-European Public Procurement Online project now maintained by OpenPEPPOL, adopts the work products of CEN/TC434 and CEN/TC440 that include UBL customizations and syntax serializations of different document types for European business processes. The goal of PEPPOL is to enable public procurement across borders within the EU.
It was reported that CEN/TC434 has unanimously agreed to endorse UBL as one of two syntaxes complying with the forthcoming European Norm on e-Invoicing and will be listed in a specific CEN Technical Specification.
These efforts support Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement in Europe.
On March 3, 2017 this summary update of recent announcements was published, including references to Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy (Emilia-Romagna region), Netherlands, Norway, Sweden.
Spanish UBL version based in CCI
In Spain, UBL is being used primarily for electronic invoice encoding. The UBL Spanish Localization Committee has been actively developing UBL awareness and has created implementation guidelines to allow easy adoption of UBL based on previous work done by CCI.
Czech UBL Customization - ISDOC
Peruvian UBL Customization - SUNAT
Belgian UBL Customization - e-fff
In December 2011 the Belgian government specified a customization of UBL to maximize the interoperability of the electronic invoice between Belgian actors.
Swedish UBL Customization - Svefaktura
SFTI, the joint project of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), Financial Management Authority (ESV) and the government contracting authority specified Svefaktura, a UBL customization.
As of November 1, 2018 it will be mandatory for Swedish electrical authorities to use PEPPOL.
Colombian UBL Customization - DIAN
Norwegian UBL Customization - EHF
Difi, the Norwegian agency for Public Management and eGovernment, has chosen to use CEN BII as a base for the EHF formats and the Universal Business Language (UBL) as a foundation for the implemented syntax.
Dutch UBL Customization - UBL-OHNL and Simplerinvoicing
UBL-OHNL is a Dutch government-specific customization for submitting documents via Digipoort.
Simplerinvoicing is a community of e-invoicing, ERP and accounting software providers making e-invoicing in UBL available for everyone. It includes access to the PEPPOL network for secure and reliable transfer.
In response to the European Directive 2014/55/EU the Dutch government has mandated XML Invoicing for all contracts signed after January 1, 2017 using the UBL-OHNL customization via Digipoort or the Simplerinvoicing customization via PEPPOL.
Australia and New Zealand use of UBL
As part of a national initiative to increase the proportion of businesses participating in the Australian digital economy the Digital Business Council endorsed  an Interoperability Framework in 2016. The initial version of the framework includes a set of policies, standards and guidelines to promote the economy-wide adoption of eInvoicing. A subset of UBL 2.1 for the invoice and business response document was included in this initial release. The subset was initially based on a working draft of the European Committee for Standardization's work under the CEN/TC 434 - Electronic Invoicing project
In 2017 OASIS established a localisation subcommittee to promote the harmonised use of UBL and to support the broader market adoption across Australia. The subcommittee facilitates an open dialogue for information sharing and collaboration, under the auspices of OASIS transparent governance and operating procedures.
Further guidance and support is facilitated by third parties such as
- DCAF Online - a contemporary and transparent approach to businesses having visibility of the digital standards and frameworks their service providers support. Recognised service providers are listed and resources are available to support the economy-wide adoption of digital procurement.
In February 2019 "the two countries’ intention to jointly adopt the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) interoperability framework for trans-Tasman e-invoicing" was announced by the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Australia.
Italian use of UBL
The future of e-invoicing in Italy will facilitate the correct implementation of the national Technical Rules for Interoperability between e-Procurement platforms (Circolare 3 AgID) and the automation of the end-to-end procurement process, based on PEPPOL or, where a PEPPOL specification is not available, by implementing a CEN BII profile using the OASIS UBL 2.1 syntax. In the long term, likely by 2022, the objective is to migrate to a single global standard, UBL, still supporting the other mandatory syntax with translations, and phasing out the national format.
Singaporean use of UBL
Singapore has established the first PEPPOL Authority outside of Europe with the Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) to help businesses in Singapore to benefit from digitalisation and better position themselves to plug into the international marketplace.
United States and Canadian use of UBL
On October 4, 2018 the Business Payments Coalition e-Invoicing Subcommittee, an open technical committee consisting of US, Canadian, and Mexican interests in electronic invoicing and facilitated by the US Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, released its first review of the semantic model of an invoice, expressed using the business objects of OASIS UBL 2.2.
- on February 17, 2017 Canada formally adopted UBL 2.1 as Canadian national standard CAN/CSA-ISO/IEC 19845:16 (paid content identical to free content from OASIS download web site cited above)
Corporate support of UBL
- MSC Belgium documented their adoption of UBL 2.1 for sales invoices as of March 15, 2016
- EDF France documented their adoption of UBL 2.0 for orders as of March 23, 2010
- IBM documents their support of PEPPOL UBL for e-Invoicing
Industry support of UBL
Textile Clothing and Footwear industry - eBiz-TCF
- eBIZ is a UBL customization available for the Textile Clothing and Footwear industry.
The e-Freight Framework
- a joint effort to create "One Common Framework for Information and Communication Systems in Transport and Logistics" from FREIGHTWISE, e‐Freight, INTEGRITY, Smart‐CM, SMARTFREIGHT, EURIDICE, RISING, DiSCwise, iCargo, COMCIS, eMAR and other projects, developing a reference model and logistics information exchange "document" that are now part of UBL 2.1 - ISO/IEC 19845
- ClearView Trade offers a portal for customers to obtain export documents using UBL
Products supporting UBL
- Akretion has created open source UBL modules for open source Odoo (formerly OpenERP) and has produced a demonstration video in OGG Video format
- Crane Softwrights Ltd. offers a subset schema preparation service
- go2UBL offers a service of converting PDF documents into UBL documents
- the backbone document format for the Tradeshift platform is UBL
- UBLReady is an online validation service for UBL documents and for certifying the readiness of organizations according to the UBL Ready configuration
- xa-elegans is a web application that accepts and runs rules over UBL documents as part of the Internet of Rules
- bBiller is a real world Ethereum Blockchain DAO for Double Entry Book-keeping and accounting using the International standard OASIS UBL Universal Business Language.
- Semine is a Norwegian tech startup providing the first real AI accounting engine for Double Entry Book-keeping and it converts all transactions to UBL format automatically.
- Charlie-India is a tech startup providing a white-label e-invoicing platform; users of the services built on the platform can exchange invoice data in the OASIS UBL format.
Tools for working with UBL documents and models
- Crane Softwrights Ltd.'s ods2obdgc and gc2obdndr tools are used by the UBL committee to create UBL document schemas from a spreadsheet expression of business objects described using the UN/CEFACT Core Component Technical Specification 2.01
- iSURF eDoCreator 1.0 allows creation and customization of UBL document schemas.
- ph-ubl Open Source Java library for reading and writing UBL 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 and UBL-TR documents. Licensed under the Apache 2.0 License
- UBL Larsen C# .NET 4.0 library for reading and writing UBL 2.0 documents.
UBL Vocabulary Development
The OASIS UBL Naming and Design Rules Version 3.0 documents how the UBL Technical Committee applies the OASIS Business Document Naming and Design Rules Version 1.0 specification for defining a business document creating XSD schemas on the basis of business objects described using the UN/CEFACT Core Component Technical Specification 2.01.
The committee has published a reference for one to create one's own UBL subset schema by starting from the same resources used by the committee to publish the UBL distribution.
The committee announced the first public review of the OASIS Business Document Naming and Design Rules Version 1.1 proposed OASIS Standard with new rules for creating JSON validation artefacts for JSON documents, complete with the OASIS Committee Note of all UBL 2.1 document types as JSON schemas and all UBL 2.1 example documents as JSON documents, beginning February 1, 2017 and closing April 1, 2017.
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