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IRN known as Invoice Reference Number is a unique number alloted by Government to tag and identify every valid e-invoice generated in India, being implemented from 1st October 2020.
The e-invoicing system has been introduced to create a standard for all e-invoices generated. In this article, we will be dealing with the following aspects about Invoice Reference Number (IRN) in an e-invoice:
The Invoice Reference Number (IRN) is a unique number (also known as hash) generated by the Invoice Registration Portal (IRP) using a hash generation algorithm, under the e-invoicing system. For every document such as an invoice or debit or credit note to be submitted on the Invoice Regsitration Portal, a 64 character invoice reference number shall be generated.
This number shall be unique for every invoice raised in a financial year by a GSTIN in the entire GST system. Further, every invoice being issued by supplier to his recipient must contain the IRN.
The tax officers can verify the genuineness of the transaction using invoice reference number through the central portal as well as an offline app. It will, in turn, help them check the invoice even where internet may not be accessible.
A hash generation algorithm is a function that converts a message or a string consisting of characters (alphabets + numbers + certain special characters) into a series of numbers such that the resulting numbers cannot indicate the original message.
The GSTN will prescribe this algorithm as part of the e-invoicing standard.
IRN is generated by converting characters into numbers (also called ‘hash’) using a hash generation algorithm. This algorithm will be applied to the following three parameters:
The IRN generation will be required at the time of issuing the invoice or credit note or debit note by the seller.
The invoices under the e-invoicing system will continue to be prepared using any software that a business entity uses to generate invoices. However, they will have to conform to the prescribed standard and parameters.
The entity can choose either of the following two options to generate IRN:
Option 1: Using the Excel offline tool.
Option 2: Through API integration directly with the e-invoice portal/IRP or via GST Suvidha Provider.
For more details about how IRN is generated, read our article on How to generate IRN?
Note: In both the cases, the IRP will perform a de-duplication check where the IRN so generated will be checked against the Central Registry of the GST System (containing all generated/uploaded IRN) to ensure that all IRN remain unique.
Can I regenerate a new IRN for an invoice against which IRN was already generated?
A: No, it is not possible as only unique invoice will be accepted on invoice registration portal. For this purpose, the e-invoice system does a check with the Central Registry of GST system for any duplication.
How long will the IRN be stored on the government portal?
A: The IRN which is generated on the e-invoice system shall be made available to the taxpayer for upto 24 hours
What are the prerequisites to generate an IRN?
A: Following are the prerequistes:
Will both invoice number and IRN required to be mentioned on the e-invoice?
A: Yes, both are mandatory fields as per the e-invoice schema notified by the CBIC on 30th July 2020.
For more information about e-invoicing system, read our articles: