VAT on EU Sales/Purchase

Consignments of goods with a value of £135 or less that are outside

The UK and sold directly to customers (not through an online marketplace) in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) will have UK supply VAT charged at the point of sale.

The UK and EU and sold directly to customers (not through an online marketplace) will have import VAT charged in Northern Ireland.

The £135 limit applies to the value of a total consignment that is imported, not the separate value of individual items that are in a consignment.

These rules will not apply to the import of:

  • consignments of goods containing excise goods
  • non-commercial goods (for example, gifts)

These rules will also not apply to consignments of goods from Jersey and Guernsey if VAT is collected and paid to HMRC under the Import VAT Accounting Scheme.

Goods that are outside the UK at the point of sale

The seller must work out the consignment value of the goods by deciding their ‘intrinsic value’; this is the price the goods were sold for, not including:

  • any transport or insurance costs, unless they are included in the price and not separately shown on the invoice
  • any other identifiable taxes and charges

Unless sent individually, the seller must add the individual values of all items in a consignment together to get the total value of the consignment.

If a seller makes changes to the value of the consignment so that its total value goes above £135 they may be liable for import VAT and Customs Duty and have to adjust the VAT already accounted for at the point of sale.

Low-value consignment relief, which is an import VAT exemption for goods valued at £15 or less, has been removed in:

  • Great Britain for goods imported from outside the UK
  • Northern Ireland for goods that are imported from outside the UK and EU

Consignments valued at £135 or less

The seller must charge and account for VAT at the point of sale unless the consignment is a business-to-business sale and the customer has given them their UK VAT registration number.

To charge and account for VAT, the seller will need to:

know the precise nature of the goods to find out the correct rate of VAT to charge
register for VAT — sellers that are already registered for VAT do not need to re-register
keep records of the goods sold, and make sure they get accurate information to apply the correct VAT treatment to them

Low-value consignment relief will no longer apply for goods supplied into Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU, and the seller will be liable to account for the VAT on the VAT return instead of at the border.

Business-to-business sales to UK VAT-registered customers

The seller will not need to charge and account for VAT if the customer gives them their VAT registration number. The seller can confirm it’s correct using the online service.

The seller can add a note to the invoice (for example, by writing ‘reverse charge: customer to account for VAT to HMRC’) and send it to the UK business customer.

The business customer will then be responsible for accounting for any VAT due on their VAT Return if the goods are supplied in Great Britain — using a ‘reverse charge procedure.

Where goods are supplied in Northern Ireland, the business customer will be responsible for accounting for any VAT due. They may account for it using postponed VAT accounting or other means of paying imports.

In both cases, the business customer can recover the VAT as input tax on the same VAT Return under standard VAT recovery rules.

Sellers do not have to register for VAT if they only sell goods that are outside the UK at the point of sale to UK VAT-registered businesses.

Consignments valued at more than £135

Regular VAT and customs rules will apply to import the goods into Great Britain from outside the UK or Northern Ireland from outside the UK and EU.

Read Import goods into the UK to find out more about how imported goods are treated for VAT purposes.

Goods that are in the UK at the point of sale
If you are an overseas seller who owns goods of any value that are located in the UK at the point of sale, you must register and account for VAT on any sales you make directly to customers in Great Britain or Northern Ireland.

There are different rules if you import goods and then sell them through an online marketplace.

Overseas sellers making supplies of zero-rated goods

You do not need to register for VAT if the goods you supply are all zero-rated. You can apply for exemption from registration. See VAT rates on different goods and services to find out which:

  • rate of VAT applies
  • goods are exempt from VAT
  • goods are outside the scope of VAT

VAT invoices

The standard rules for the content and format of VAT invoices will apply.

The seller should issue a full paper or digital invoice for goods.

The seller does not need to provide a VAT invoice for goods sold in Northern Ireland from outside of the EU.

VAT records

The seller must keep complete records (including VAT invoices) for 6 years from the date any goods are sold.

The Flat Rate Scheme

Sellers who are using the Flat Rate Scheme must have decided if they want to remain in the scheme by 1 January 2021.

Any sales a seller makes through an online marketplace, where the online market is liable to account for the VAT, will not be included in the Flat Rate Scheme calculation from 1 January 2021.

Sellers who decided to remain in the scheme will continue to be subject to its conditions, including the restrictions on recovering VAT.

A seller can decide to leave the scheme at any time.

Goods sold before 1 January 2021

If a seller received payment for an order before 11 pm on 31 December 2020 and dispatched the item later, these rules would not apply.