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PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
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Talking about electronic documents

We’ve done PDF Day events and technical conferences across Europe, in the US, in Australia, and elsewhere. This Electronic Document Conference is the first PDF Association event that’s open to all technologies pertaining to documents. It’s about explor …

Happy new logo!

2006: The PDF/A Competence Center A new year brings new things, and 2019 is no exception! The “four red blocks” logo was first created for the PDF/A Competence Center in 2006. When that organization became the PDF Association in 2011, the design was ad …

Save-The-Date: PDF Day France, Toulouse, April 4, 2019

PDF Day France will be the first French-speaking event of the PDF Association, organised by our member ORPALIS. It will take place in Toulouse which is the home ground of Airbus and we are very happy that Airbus will present a case study around its usage of PDF in their document management environment!

Electronic Document Conference: Call for Papers

Prospective presenters at the Electronic Document Conference 2019 are invited to submit high-quality original proposals for 25-minute presentations on subjects of interest to developers and technical product managers concerned with electronic document implementations.

Have we passed ‘peak PDF’?

How do we gain insight into how users’ views of documents are shifting? Google Trends is an increasingly interesting source of high-level marketplace data. By aggregating Google’s search data over time, reporting a term’s popularity as compared with all other searches.

PDF/A in finance and industry

Engineering drawing

Businesses benefit from the ISO standard for long-term archiving because it helps them to store digital documents in compliance with legal requirements. PDF/A-3 has further increased adoption rates within the financial sector, as this new part of the standard can also be used to keep source documents organised.

Industry documentation

The aeroplane manufacturer Airbus was a pioneer in the use of PDF/A. Aeroplane blueprints must be preserved for at least 99 years. Back in 2002, one of the manufacturer’s working groups recognised that PDF was in some respects well-suited to long-term archiving, but also that it contained a number of problematic functions. The team therefore first developed a “minimal PDF” which was used for digital archiving until PDF/A became available.

The construction industry has recognised the advantages of features like PDF/A-3’s “container” functionality. Mechanical engineering companies, for example, can preserve original 3D models in any format as part of the PDF/A-3 file.

NIRMA (the Nuclear Information and Records Management Association) also recommends PDF/A when working with nuclear technology in the United States. The US-based energy provider Southern Co. has been using PDF/A for years to ensure that all digital documents relating to nuclear installations will remain readable into the future.

Banking and insurance

PDF/A helps the German health insurance provider Techniker Krankenkasse with a bonus programme for its customers. It begins with the company scanning existing bonus booklets in colour. This file is used to create a PDF/A with compressed images and searchable text, which can then be archived and sent onwards.

Helaba, the state bank of Hesse and Thuringia, uses PDF/A to handle incoming post and to archive emails. It also stores digital credit documents in PDF/A format.

The banking and insurance sector often requires credit and insurance files to be retained for 50 or more years.


As a rule, documents such as doctors’ notes, statements, lab reports, and X-ray and tomographic images must be retained for 30 years or more.

The medical centre at Greifswald University Hospital, for example, uses PDF/A to archive its patient records – including digital signatures and timestamps. Due to requirements of legal certainty, digital signatures play a critical role in medical statements.

PDF/A is used in doctors’ practices as well as in clinics. The Lake Constance Radiation Oncology Centre uses PDF/A to process and archive digital patient records.


The standardised document and data format ZUGFeRD was created to make it easier to exchange digital invoices. It is the result of a joint initiative between BITKOM (Bundesverband Informationswirtschaft, Telekommunikation und neue Medien e.V.) and FeRD (Forum elektronische Rechnung Deutschland). The ZUGFeRD exchange format also uses PDF/A-3. It embeds invoice data in XML format to allow the recipient of an invoice to process it automatically.

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Categories: Finance, PDF/A