In the field of business document standardization a multitude of different standardization efforts exist. Unfortunately, most of the developed standards are designed for a specific application domain or industry and do not consider cross-standard interoperability. This results in several incompatible standard definitions. Without the provision of a common semantical basis for business document definitions, cross-domain interoperability cannot be achieved. In this paper we provide a methodology for building a global reference ontology based on the Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) and Web Ontology Language (OWL). Using our approach a common semantic business document basis is developed. New document definitions may be derived from this basis and existing document definitions may be aligned to it. Using our ‘derivation-by-restriction’ mechanism, instances derived from a common semantical basis are interoperable to each other. Thus, mapping mechanisms between different standard definitions may be implemented in an easier and semantically correct manner.