Value Added Tax (VAT)

If both the delivery address and the invoice address are outside of the European Community (the EC) you can ignore VAT - it does not apply to you.

VAT is applied to most sales of goods within the EC.

Exports to countries within the EC are subject to VAT.

However, if both the delivery address and the invoice address are in the EC and not in the UK, and you can provide a valid VAT number for the company to be invoiced then we need not charge VAT on the sale. The company named on the invoice will then need to account for the VAT in their own country. If you would like to take advantage of this facility we need you to send us confirmation of your order on your company letterhead, showing your VAT registration number.

You can check your VAT number is valid at the Europa web site


You can find chapter and verse at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/managing/international/exports/goods.htm#1


VAT on sales to someone who is VAT registered in another EU country

If you supply goods to another EU country these sales are technically known as dispatches or removals rather than exports. The term 'exports' is reserved to describe sales to a country outside the EU.

When you dispatch goods to someone in another EU country, and they're not registered for VAT in that country, you should normally charge VAT. This applies even if you're sending them to another part of your own organisation.

See the section in this guide on VAT on sales to someone who isn't VAT registered in another EU country.

Zero-rating goods sold within the EU

If you're sending goods to someone who is genuinely registered for VAT in the destination EU country, you can zero-rate the supply for VAT purposes, provided you meet all the conditions below.

To account for the VAT on zero-rated sales to another EU country, include the value of the goods and services in your VAT Return in Box 6 and Box 8 in the usual way. If any VAT is due in the destination country, then your customer pays it to the tax office in their country.

You can only zero-rate these supplies when all these conditions are met:

  • the goods are sent out of the UK to somewhere in another EU country
  • whoever you're sending them to is genuinely registered for VAT in another EU country
  • you get their VAT registration number - including the two letter country code - and show it on your sales invoice
  • you've got paperwork showing that the goods have gone out of the UK - 'evidence of removal'
  • you dispatch the goods and get evidence of removal within a set time - which is normally three months

Evidence of removal will include a number of things like:

  • customer orders
  • correspondence with customers
  • sales invoices
  • packing lists
  • invoices from hauliers
  • bank statements
  • consignment notes showing the goods have been received in another EU country

These documents must show details of:

  • your business
  • your customer
  • the goods and their value
  • the method of transport and route
  • where the goods are going to

The description of the goods mustn't be vague.

If the evidence is unsatisfactory, then you may have to pay all the VAT. You must keep all the evidence for six years and show it to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if they ask to see it.

If you can't get this evidence in time you must account for VAT on your return when the time limit has passed.

More about time limits and accounting for VAT in section 4 of VAT Notice 725 (PDF 1.2MB)

You can use an online interactive tool to check whether a VAT number for any EU country is valid. However, this doesn't tell you whether the details given by someone match with that VAT number, so it is only useful as a preliminary check. To confirm the details you've been given by a new customer, you should contact the VAT Helpline.

Contact the VAT Helpline

Check EU VAT registration numbers on the Europa website