when do companies have to register for an EU VAT number?

Updated: Mar 30

We found it hard to get goods sold across Europe with a UK company and more so using a UK VAT number to custom clear the goods. Many of you might have had the same issue in the last months after Brexit.

As it stands, as part of efforts to harmonise the European VAT system and support the drive towards an EU single market for goods and services, the requirements to register for a VAT number should be the same in each country. Typical instances where a foreign trader is required to register for a local VAT number include:

  • If a foreign company is buying and selling goods in another country;

  • If a company is importing goods into an EU country, which can include moving goods across national borders within the EU;

  • Holding goods in warehouses or on consignment stock in other EU countries for customers;

  • Holding a live conference, exhibition, or training if there is paid entrance;

  • Selling goods to consumers over the internet or through catalogues (distance selling);

  • Supply and install of equipment in a limited number of situations;

  • A very limited number of situations where services are being provided (following the 2010 VAT Package reforms).

The requirements above apply equally to companies from within EU, and non-EU companies.


We found UK companies can apply for a Dutch VAT number here: https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontenten/themaoverstijgend/applications_and_forms/registration_form_foreign_companies

If your goods also need an EU address to put on packaging, you can set up an admin office where the VAT requests can be sent via virtual office spaces like Regus.

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