What is VAT?

Synonymous with the Central Service Tax (CST) Registration and the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Registration, Value Added Tax (VAT) Registration, is a necessity for any business, be it a proprietorship or a partnership, involved in trading and manufacturing any kind of products. Registered businesses can also opt for the Input Tax Credit (ITC) and apply them on future sales. This relieves the businesses from having to pay the VAT themselves but instead it gets added to the retailer invoice and the customer ultimately pays for it.

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

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 though 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.

Generally, non-resident companies must register for VAT immediately. Resident companies’ VAT registration thresholds are here. Another exception is e-commerce companies which have a special distance selling VAT registration threshold regime.

How do companies get a European VAT number

Once the obligation to VAT register has been established, the process can begin. As a basic, companies must be VAT (EU companies) or tax (non-EU companies) registered. They will then be required to complete and submit a local VAT registration form, along with supporting documentation. The application form will more often than not be in the local language. EU countries have become increasingly reluctant to provide document translations as this can create misunderstandings.

Typically, a company will be required to provide the following supporting documentation:

  • Proof of VAT or tax registration in its country of domiciliation
  • An original copy of the certificate of incorporation of the company
  • A copy of the company’s Articles of Association
  • An extract from the national company registrar as proof of existence,
  • Increasingly, proof of the planned trade (e.g. contracts or invoices)
  • If the company is appointing a local tax agent or Fiscal Representative, then a Letter of Authority or Power of Attorney
  • Each country will have various other documents that should be supplied. For example, Spain requires a statement confirming that the company does not have a permanent establishment in Spain.

Following the submission of the application, it will take 2-8 weeks to receive a VAT number, depending on the country. The tax authorities may well ask further questions, specifically to try to prevent VAT fraud.

We can assist with registration for VAT in all countries within the European Union. If you are trading in VAT applicable products in Europe, you will also need to register for VAT.

You would normally register in the country where you are likely to trade, and then register in any countries where you have substantial turnover.

If you mainly trade in one country, but have VAT applicable supplies to other countries within the EU; you can send invoices without VAT to your customers, provided that:

  • The supplies are goods and not services
  • The client's company is registered for VAT in another EU country

Indirect Tax Residency

If your company trades in the EU, it will normally need a VAT number, you will need to register in the country where your company has most activity.

The European VIES register

To help you decide whether you can invoice without VAT, you need to know if your client is registered for VAT.

Most VAT registered companies in Europe are on a European register. As you will have clients who will want to see if your company is registered in the VIES register, we can:

  • Advise you where to incorporate in order to get a VAT number and get your company on the VIES register quickly
  • Assist you with your VAT application

Cyprus VAT registration

After incorporation of your company we can apply for a VAT number on your behalf. Companies in Cyprus are given a VAT number by the tax authorities when they start to trade, details are placed on the European VIES register.

Czech Republic VAT registration Czech Republic VAT registration

Companies need to be activated for VAT with the tax authorities, once the company is starting to trade. The Czech Republic is a recommended country, if you need a European recognised VAT number immediately.

France VAT registration France VAT registration

All companies in France have a VAT number which is allocated after company registration. This number is placed on the European VIES register immediately.

Germany VAT registration Germany - VAT - Umsatzsteuer

We apply for a tax number and the VAT number at the local tax office immediately after you acquire the company. Registering for German VAT generally takes between 3-6 weeks. We can then make a separate application for the VAT number to appear on the European VIES register.

Please note that the Federal Ministry of Finance has strict guidelines, without German employees or premises it will be difficult to obtain a German VAT number.

Registering for German VAT generally takes between four weeks.

In Germany your company VAT Number is a nine digit number (Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer). German VAT regulations are laid down in the Turnover Tax Act (UStG), the Turnover Tax Implementing Regulation (UStDV).

Anyone supplying goods or services or making intra-community acquisitions in Germany must be registered for VAT.

Ireland VAT registration Ireland VAT registration

You can avail of a joint registration for all taxes to include VAT, Corporation Tax and PAYE/PRSI, however the application for VAT requires a certain presence in the country, such as a trading address other than our address as registered office and a bank account. We can apply for a VAT number on your behalf.

Malta VAT registration Malta VAT registration

Companies need to be registered for VAT with the tax authorities, once you state that the company is starting to trade. You need to give an indication of business activities. The VAT number appears immediately on the European VIES register.

Poland VAT registration Poland VAT registration

We promote the sale of ready made companies in Poland. These companies can be activated for trade and can be placed on the European VIES register within two or three weeks.

New Polish companies can apply for a VAT number for internal Polish work or apply through a different system to be on the European VIES register, applications can take some weeks.

Spain VAT registration Spain VAT registration

All Spanish companies have a VAT number. Once we have incorporated your company and you are trading, you may need to be on the European VIES register.

In Spain, most companies are not on the VIES register, as their tradeb is simply within Spain. If you need to be on the VIES register, we can apply on your behalf.

Your temporary CIF number

During the incorporation, we apply for a provisional tax number (codigo de identificacion fiscal/CIF) and register for VAT.

To apply for your CIF number, we must provide the the name of your company, the registered address of the compan and identification in the form of your passport or residence permit.

The tax office will then issue us with a certificate called an Identificacion Fiscal that has your CIF number on it.

Your definitive CIF number

Once we have incorporated we need to apply for the definitive CIF number. This is done as part of a process to activate your company for business and includes:

  • Registration for Activities Tax
  • Registration of the director of the company, if the director is not registered yet
  • Registration for Corporation Tax
  • You do no not need to visit, we can complete all these processes on your behalf.

UK VAT registration UK VAT registration

We can apply for and complete the forms necessary for your company to be registered with HM Revenue & Customs for VAT in the UK, registration takes around 4 weeks.

Your UK company can obtain a UK VAT number if the company has activity, offices and staff in the UK.

Items that can be persuasive in getting a VAT number include, appointment of a UK based Tax Representative and appointment of UK based officials, such as a Company Secretary or a Company Director.