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Updated 04/2016

Updated 04/2016

Check a VAT number (VIES)

For EU cross-border transactions

Provided that all the conditions are met you can deliver goods or services to a business client in another EU country without charging VAT (VAT exemption). In this case, your client will have to account for the VAT due (self-account) in his VAT-declaration in their own country.

One of the conditions for supplying without VAT is to check if your client is VAT registered for EU cross-border transactions, and holds a valid VAT number in their country.

This verification can be done by using the EU's VIES on the web tool, which retrieves VAT registration data from the national databases; it will confirm whether or not the specific VAT number of your customer is valid and has been registered for EU cross-border transactions in their Member State. We strongly advise to keep track of your validation in case of tax control.

If your customer claims that they are registered for VAT — but the verification through VIES on the web does not confirm this — they can request verification with the tax office in their country. They may be required to register additionally for EU cross-border transactions. This procedure varies between EU countries.

You can query VIES in multiple languages, whereas national databases are often only available in a restricted amount of languages (possibly only the national language).

However, the European Commission can accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the information in VIES on the web, which is obtained from national databases over which the Commission has no control.

Read more about VIES

VIES (VAT Information Exchange System)

VIES is a search engine, not a database. VAT registrations are saved on national databases by the national administrations in each Member State. When you make a request to validate a VAT number through VIES, the system will consult the national database of the relevant Member State that allocated the VAT identification number.

If the VAT number is correctly recognised in the national database, VIES will display the results, in all other cases the result will be invalid. The European Commission cannot check, correct, add or delete any national VAT registrations.

A number can be invalid for many reasons: change of address, name, new registrations etc.; these changes are not always reflected immediately in the national databases and consequently in VIES. For urgent matters, we advise you to contact your local tax administration.

Data not available

Due to the need to back-up the national databases, at times the system may be unavailable. The Commission is working with the Member States to ensure that the length of time that their databases are down — due to updates — is kept to a minimum.

Additional information

You can consult the FAQ page on VIES for more information.

Legal disclaimer regarding the validation of VAT identification numbers through VIES.

If you want more information, you will have to inquire through your national contact point, which can confirm:

  • whether or not the VAT number is valid
  • whether or not the VAT number is "associated with" a certain name and address

How you contact the national authorities varies from country to country. Some (like Germany Deutsch , Italy and Spain) have online systems, while you have to contact others by phone, mail or fax. You should also be aware that this might require knowledge of that country's language.

For data protection reasons, the national authorities will not supply the name and address corresponding to a VAT number - only that there is a certain name and address associated with a specific VAT number.

Dig deeper, country by country:

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