Check a VAT number (VIES)
You can check if a business is registered to trade cross-border within the EU with the EU's VIES on the web tool.
What is VIES?
VIES (VAT Information Exchange System) is a search engine (not a database) owned by the European Commission. The data is retrieved from national VAT databases when a search is made from the VIES tool.
The search result that is displayed within the VIES tool can be in one of two ways; EU VAT information exists (valid) or it doesn't exist (invalid).
If a valid response is received the EU VAT information will be displayed in the VIES tool.
If the system returns an invalid status it means that the VAT number you are trying to validate is not registered in the relevant national database. This is due to one of the following reasons:
- the VAT number does not exist
- the VAT number has not been activated for intra-EU transactions
- the registration is not yet finalised (some EU countries require a separate registration for intra-EU transactions).
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.
VIES is available in 23 languages of the European Union.
What if an existing number isn't verified?
If your customer claims that they are registered for VAT — but the verification through VIES does not confirm this — they can request verification with the tax office in their country. They may be required to make an additional registration for EU cross-border transactions. This procedure varies between EU countries.
Requesting additional information
If you cannot find the information on VIES you should request more information at national level with your national authorities. You should then be able to confirm:
- if the VAT number is valid or not;
- if the VAT number is 'associated with' a certain name and address.
How you contact the national authorities varies from country to country. Some EU countries have online systems, while you have to contact others by phone, mail or fax.
Due to data protection, the national authorities will not supply the name and address corresponding to a VAT number. They will only confirm if there is a certain name and address associated with a specific VAT number or not.
Data not available
The system is sometimes not available due to the need to back-up the national databases. The Commission is working with the Member States to ensure that the length of time that their databases are down is kept to a minimum. If you receive an error message relating to this you should wait a few minutes and then try again, or try at another moment of the day.
The European Commission cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of the information in VIES on the web. This is because the information is obtained from national databases over which the Commission has no control. The European Commission cannot check, correct, add or delete any national VAT registrations.
It is recommended that you keep track of your validation in case of tax control.
You can consult the FAQ page on VIES for more information.
Legal disclaimer regarding the validation of VAT identification numbers through VIES.