Vote begins on UBL 2.1 as an OASIS Standard

From:  Jon Bosak, Co-chair OASIS UBL Technical Committee
Date:  2013-10-22

Five years of development to extend the OASIS Universal Business Language wrap up this month in a vote among the OASIS member organizations to approve the latest revision, UBL 2.1, as an OASIS Standard.


In twelve years of continuous development representing the cumulative work of hundreds of global business experts, UBL has become a successful and widely used open XML standard for eBusiness.  The UBL version 2.1 release adds extended features and functions required by many current UBL stakeholders. Following three rounds of formal public review at the committee level, the Candidate Standard completed its recent 60-day OASIS public review with zero comments, a testimony to its readiness for publication.

Each OASIS member organization has one vote.  The voting period, which began 21 October, ends 4 November 2013 at 23:59 GMT.  Designated OASIS representatives or alternates from each organization can cast their vote at:

Internal link:

Publicly visible link:

Background information regarding UBL implementation, the scope of UBL 2.1, and the connection between UBL and other standardization efforts is given below.


The UBL effort, which began in 2001, was the first initiative to use the OASIS TC process for specification development, and today UBL is among the most mature and widely implemented OASIS Standards.  Beginning with the 2005 adoption of UBL for all public sector invoicing in Denmark (a transition that continues to save that government some 100 million euros in labor costs annually), UBL has become through its CEN BII localization the foundation for a number of successful European public procurement frameworks, including EHF (Norway), Svefaktura (Sweden), ePrior (European Commission DIGIT), and PEPPOL, a growing pan-European procurement infrastructure whose participants currently include government agencies from Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Sweden.  Other implementations for public and private sector eInvoicing include E-Fatura (Turkey), Factura Electronica (Peru), SimplerInvoicing (the Netherlands), and Tradeshift (global).

UBL has also become foundational to a number of efforts in the transport domain, including eFreight (European Commission - DG MOVE), DTTN (Port of Hong Kong), TradeNet (Port of Singapore), Electronic Freight Management (US Department of Transportation), and Freightgate (logistics services).  Service providers such as EESPA (European eInvoice Service Providers Association) also recommend and use UBL documents for their common interchange formats.

In keeping with the original vision of UBL as a standard basis for electronic business in general, UBL is now increasingly used by organizations whose scope extends beyond the generic Buy-Ship-Pay model.  These include the European Commission's Textile, Clothing, and Footwear industry group (eBiz-TCF) and Wehkamp, the largest online retailer in the Netherlands.


Technically a minor revision to UBL 2.0 (because the new 2.1 schemas are backward-compatible with all UBL 2.0 documents), UBL 2.1 extends the functionality of 2.0 by increasing the number of defined XML document types from 31 to 65.  In addition to the generic supply chain and procurement processes defined in UBL 2.0 (Catalogue, Quotation, Ordering, Fulfilment, Billing, Payment, Statement, Transport Services, and Certificate of Origin), UBL 2.1 adds support for eTendering, Vendor Managed Inventory, Intermodal Freight Management, Utility Billing, and Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment.  It also adds two supplementary document types, Document Status and Document Status Request.

As in previous versions of UBL, all the XML data constructs in a UBL 2.1 schema are drawn from a single library of reusable components in conformance with the UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) Version 2.01. This ensures a high degree of semantic alignment among the various parts of the UBL specification, and the assembly of schemas from a common XML element base facilitates code reuse in processing applications.

Aside from adding new document types and areas of functionality, UBL 2.1 also implements a number of improvements across the entire data library.  The financial information capabilities of UBL have been enhanced in the areas of financial accounting, payment mandates, trade financing, currency handling, and payments reconciliation in order to support downstream processing of invoices within financial services and enable Straight Through Processing (STP) and paperless trading along the entire financial supply chain.  Legal information capabilities have been enhanced through the enrichment of the Party structure to support advanced procurement and global usage, particularly with the inclusion of Power of Attorney and provisions for single and multiple service providers using business models such as outsourcing, application service provision, and virtual services via cloud computing.  Semantics and data structures for tax information have been aligned with the OASIS Indirect Tax Reference Model Version 2.0 produced by the OASIS Tax-XML TC.  Optional support for XAdES (required in the European Union) and other advanced digital signature schemes based on XML DSig is now bundled into the distribution by default, as are current versions of virtually all internationally recognized EDI code lists.

On the technical side, the transition to a two-phase model of data verification begun in UBL 2.0 is now complete, enabling total flexibility in the application of code lists within the standard structure.  And the several thousand data definitions in the UBL library have been thoroughly revised using an approach designed to aid the user attempting to understand the semantics of UBL business entities.  As an aid to implementers, UML and ASN.1 representations of the UBL information entities are provided in separate OASIS Committee Notes accompanying the UBL 2.1 release.

By maintaining complete backward compatibility with all UBL installations since 2006, UBL 2.1 adds these technical refinements and new functionalities without disturbing its extensive and rapidly growing application base.


UBL was originally conceived as the part of the UN/CEFACT-OASIS ebXML partnership that would standardize XML data formats for electronic business. While independent of any particular transport framework and widely used outside of ebXML, UBL continues to function in its original role as a component of the ebXML stack and can therefore be considered one of the specifications contributed by OASIS to ebXML (ISO 15000).  UBL was the first published data format specification produced in full conformance with UN/CEFACT's ebXML Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) Version 2.01 - ISO TS15000-5:2005.

Within OASIS, UBL complements and in some cases relies upon the work of the TaxXML, eGov, Code List Representation, and Business Document Exchange Technical Committees, and it is a key component of the contribution of OASIS to the ISO/IEC/ITU/UNECE eBusiness MoU.

UBL is also being incorporated as a reference format in a small but growing number of standards outside of OASIS.  These include CEN Workshop Agreement (CWA) 16667, Reference Architecture 2.0 for eBusiness Harmonisation in Textile/Clothing and Footwear Sectors; ISO TS24533, an international technical specification developed by ISO TC 204 (Intelligent Transport Systems) that relies upon UBL for data interoperability in the movement and intermodal transfer of freight; and a companion international specification, ISO TS17187, that identifies UBL as the collaborative syntax for harmonizing other syntaxes used throughout the supply chain domain for tracking the shipment of goods.

UBL satisfies, out of the box, aspects of services for the functional implementation of a number of roles described by the Open-edi Reference Model standardized as ISO/IEC 14662:2010.  This important specification under the aegis of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC32 models e-business relationships and the electronic processing of business transactions.  Annex H of the UBL 2.1 specification outlines the way in which the components of UBL can be used to realize the Open-edi model in real-world trading communities.

OASIS UBL is a model of open standards development in a publicly transparent process.  With the approval of the OASIS member organizations, UBL 2.1 will continue the effort to achieve data interoperability in the global electronic business environment.
URL: Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
OASIS sites: OASIS | Cover Pages | | AMQP | CGM Open | eGov | Emergency | IDtrust | LegalXML | Open CSA | OSLC | WS-I