Universal Business Language

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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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] UBL version 2.0 was approved as an OASIS Standard in October 2006, and version 2.1 was approved as an OASIS Standard in November 2013 and an ISO Standard (ISO/IEC 19845:2015) in December 2015. Version 2.1 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.

UBL traces its origins back to the EDI standards and other derived XML standards.[4]

UBL 2.1[edit]

The following supported processes and document types are defined in UBL 2.1.[5] UBL 2.1 is completely backward-compatible with UBL 2.0 document instances.

Business processes described and supported in UBL 2.1[edit]

Business process support originating with UBL 1.0 (2004)[edit]

Ordering, Fulfilment, Billing

Business process support added in UBL 2.0 (2006)[edit]

Catalogue, Quotation, Payment, Statement, Transport Services, Certificate of Origin

Business process support added in UBL 2.1 (2013)[edit]

eTendering, Vendor Managed Inventory, Intermodal Freight Management, Utility Billing,and Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, Replenishment and e-Invoice / e-Archive and e-Ledger in Turkey

Standard document types defined by UBL 2.1[edit]

Document types originally defined in UBL 1.0 (2004)[edit]

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)[edit]

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 fulfilment: 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)[edit]

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

UBL 2.1 as ISO/IEC 19845[edit]

The OASIS UBL 2.1 specification has been approved as ISO/IEC 19845 as of 2015-12-15:

Northern European Subset - NESUBL[edit]

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.[6] 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.[7]

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).[8][9] It is also a basis for the PEPPOL project, Pan-European Public Procurement Online project.[10][11] The goal of PEPPOL is to enable public procurement across borders within the EU.[12]

Further development of NES has progressed over to CEN/BII workshop.

Spanish UBL version based in CCI[edit]

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.

UBL Turkish Customization - UBLTR[edit]

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

Czech UBL Customization - ISDOC[edit]

The SPIS consortium (currently named ICT unie) created an UBL 2.0 customization ISDOC to be used for e-Invoicing in the Czech Republic. The recently released ISDOC 6 supports e-Requests too.[13]

Community and developer resources[edit]

The UBL Developer Mail List is an open unmoderated list hosted by OASIS for developers to collaborate and post questions. Visit the OASIS mail list manager to subscribe.

The UBL online community is an open wiki-based forum hosted by OASIS for the community to build persistent resources for sharing information about UBL and news from users and vendors.

Regional UBL user/developer communities[edit]

North America - goUBL.com


  • iSURF eDoCreator 1.0 allows creation and customization of UBL document schemas.
  • phloc-ubl Java library for reading and writing UBL 2.0 documents.
  • UBL Larsen C# .NET 4.0 library for reading and writing UBL 2.0 documents.


  1. ^ UBL 2.0 implementation library Retrieved on 2009-12-21.
  2. ^ "UBL official homepage". Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  3. ^ Article by Tim Bray: "Don’t Invent XML Languages" Retrieved on 2007-05-29.
  4. ^ "On UBL (an overview)". Retrieved 2008-02-09. 
  5. ^ "Universal Business Language Version 2.1 - OASIS Standard - 04 November 2013" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-03-10. 
  6. ^ "On NESUBL (an overview)". 
  7. ^ "NES official homepage". Archived from the original on 2007-03-20. Retrieved 2007-03-31. 
  8. ^ "IDABC e-Invoicing and e-Ordering project for public procurement, by Pieter Breyne". Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  9. ^ Breyne, Pieter; Philip Van Langenhove; Joao Frade; Maarten Daniëls (31 March 2009). "Analysis of Business Requirements for e-Invoicing in a Public Procurement Context : Final Study". European Commission. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "The CEN / BII workshop results". Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  11. ^ "The CEN / BII official homepage". Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  12. ^ "PEPPOL, Pan European Public Procurement Online". Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  13. ^ ISDOC 6: Nový formát elektronické fakturace má zlepšit transparentnost veřejných zakázek