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Cross-border VAT

Updated 07/2014

Special rules apply if you buy or sell goods/services from or to other countries.

GOODS

Countries outside the EU

Selling

If you sell goods to customers outside the EU, you do not charge VAT, though you may still deduct the VAT you yourself have paid on your related expenses (goods/services bought in specifically to make those sales).

Buying

If you buy goods for the purposes of your business from a supplier based outside the EU, you must generally pay VAT at the point of import (and may deduct this in your next VAT return if you make taxed sales).

Other countries in the EU

Selling to businesses

If you sell goods to another business and these goods are sent to another EU country, you do not charge VAT - if the customer has a valid VAT number.

You may still deduct the VAT you yourself have paid on your related expenses (goods/services bought in specifically to make those sales).

If the customer does not have a valid VAT number, you must normally charge VAT on the sale at the rate applicable in your country.

Selling to consumers

If you sell goods and send them to consumers in another EU country, you need to register there and charge VAT at the rate applicable in that country - unless the total value of your sales to that country in the year falls below the limit set by the country (EUR 35 000 or EUR 100 000).

If you are selling excise products or new means of transport (car, boat or aircraft), there are special rules.

Buying

If you buy and receive goods for business purposes from another EU country, you must account for the VAT on the transaction as if you had sold the goods yourself, at the applicable rate in your country.

Normally, you will later be able to deduct this amount.

There are several important exceptions to these basic rules.

 

 

SERVICES

 

 

Countries outside the EU

Selling

If you provide services to customers outside the EU, you do not charge VAT, though you may still deduct the VAT you yourself have paid on your related expenses (goods/services bought in specifically to make those sales).

Buying for businesses

If you receive services for the purposes of your business from a supplier based outside the EU, you must generally pay VAT at the rate that applies in your country, as if you had supplied the service yourself (using the reverse charge procedure, a system of self-assessment).

Normally, you will later be able to deduct this amount.

Other countries in the EU

Selling to businesses

You do not normally charge your customers VAT. Your customers will pay VAT on the services received at the applicable rate in their country.

You may still deduct the VAT you yourself have paid on your related expenses (goods/services bought in specifically to supply that service).

Selling to consumers

You must normally charge your customers VAT at the rate that applies in your country.

Buying

If you buy and receive services for business purposes from another EU country, you must account for the VAT on the transaction as if you had sold the services yourself, at the applicable rate in your country (using the reverse charge procedure, a system of self-assessment).

Normally, you will later be able to deduct this amount.

There are several important exceptions to these basic rules.

Special territories

The VAT rules must be applied throughout the EU, although there are some territories belonging to or linked with member countries where, because of specific circumstances, the rules do not apply:

  • The Åland Islands
  • The territory of Büsingen
  • The island of Heligoland
  • Mount Athos
  • Campione d'Italia
  • The Italian waters of Lake Lugano
  • Livigno
  • The Canary Islands
  • Ceuta
  • Melilla
  • The Channel Islands
  • Gibraltar

 

There are also places outside the EU where the EU VAT rules apply:

  • Monaco
  • Isle of Man
  • UK bases in Cyprus

Invoices

When you make sales to other businesses, you must issue an invoice either in paper or electronic form.

When you register for VAT, you are given a VAT identification number, which you must show on all invoices you give to customers, as well as the VAT amount that is being charged and other standard items.

Dig deeper, country by country:

Help & advice

Help & advice

Your Europe Advice is a source of expert advice for any issues you encounter in another EU country that involve EU law.

Solvit can assist you to solve a dispute with an official body of a Member state without going to court and free of charge.
Submit your online complaint or visit a Solvit centre in your country.

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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