Secure exchange of data and documents

AS4 standard for secure exchanges of data and documents

Published on: 24/09/2020

Launched in 2014, eDelivery is an open and reusable set of specifications and standards providing a framework for the secure machine-to-machine (M2M) exchange of documents and data via a backend system. The European Commission developed Domibus: an open source software that implements the AS4 technical specifications for exchange of data


eDelivery is one of the eight sets of open and reusable digital solutions known as Building Blocks developed by the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme. The Building Blocks can take the form of a technical framework, a standard, a software, a software as a service (SaaS), or any combination thereof. eDelivery provides users with funding to develop digital solutions promoting transport, energy and digitisation with the aim of increasing connectivity between the EU Member States.

The main advantages of using eDelivery are:

  • Interoperability: exchange of information using standardised message protocols;
  • Security: trust among users thanks to an identity verification mechanism, encrypted messages, and protection against loss or unauthorised modification;
  • Scalability and Performance: exchange of large files and access to advanced and configurable monitoring;
  • Legal Assurance and Accountability: high level of transparency and confidence among users.


An AS4-based open source message exchange protocol

eDelivery allows organizations to communicate with one another in a secure manner. The digital solution relies on the Applicability Statement 4 (AS4) message exchange protocol for the secure and reliable exchange of documents, attachments and other forms of data. The AS4 message exchange protocol creates a secure channel for the electronic transmission of data, either on the Internet or via a private network. To start exchanging data, users simply need to connect to an Access Point that is compatible with AS4. eDelivery offers a service that helps software providers to become AS4 conformant and lists those solutions which have passed or are in the process of passing the conformance testing (the complete list can be found here).

Four corner model


Domibus, the European Commission’s open source software

In order to promote the further adoption of eDelivery within Europe, the European Commission has developed its own Access Point named Domibus. Domibus is an open source software solution that is AS4 conformant and ensures interoperable, secure and reliable data exchange. It is licensed under EUPL (European Union Public License) and the documentation and source code are available on the European Commission website.


e-Boks, a successful implementation of eDelivery

A key eDelivery success story is its 2018 adoption by e-Boks, a private partnership between Nets and PostNord, the postal offices of Denmark and Sweden. e-Boks developed a secure platform to distribute and store electronic messages. Companies, institutions, and citizens may use it, for instance, to receive pension statements or documents from the Danish Tax and Customs Administration.

This project helped public administrations in Denmark and Sweden to reduce their operating costs and limit their use of paper. Ulrik Falker Thagesen, CEO of eBok, remarked that: ‘We want to future-proof our products by integrating this new infrastructure. As CEF eDelivery is based on open standards for data exchange across the borders, we can provide better and cheaper services to new and existing customers.

eDelivery and the AS4 message exchange protocol are expected to be used increasingly in the coming years, thus helping Europe to strive toward a truly connected digital single market.


More information

Referenced solution