VAT obligations of Irish traders supplying services to business customers abroad

Identification of a business for a business to business (B2B) supply of services

If you are supplying services to a business customer in another European Union (EU) Member State you should do the following:

  • obtain the business customer’s Value-Added Tax (VAT) number and confirm its validity
  • insert the customer’s VAT number on the invoice and retain records of the transaction
  • issue an invoice indicating reverse charge will apply
  • obtain a letter from the tax authorities if a business customer is a new business and a VAT number is not available[1]
  • establish if the supply is exempt in the other Member State for the purposes of VAT Information Exchange System (VIES)
  • include the supply on the VIES return if it is taxable.
  1. A VIES statement will be required to show details of the services supplied and the correct VAT number of the new business.

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It is possible to verify an EU VAT number at the EU Commission website or by contacting the VIMA office.

Verifying the status of your customer

When verifying the status of the customer you will be assumed to have acted in good faith, when you have established whether the customer is a taxable person by:

  • obtaining their VAT number and confirming its validity
  • or
  • obtaining other proof which shows that the customer is a taxable person or a non-taxable legal person for VAT purposes.

If you incorrectly determine that your customer is a business and not a private customer and do not charge VAT, you will be liable to pay the VAT. You may also incur interest and penalties in the event of a Revenue audit.

Supplies to business customers outside the EU (B2B)

In general, the supplies of services to business customers outside the EU are not subject to VAT. You must obtain sufficient evidence and proof that the customer is a taxable person.

You should obtain the following:

  • proof as to the place of establishment of the customer outside the EU
  • proof that the customer is a taxable person. For example; sufficient evidence from your customer to show that he or she is a taxable person.

This evidence may consist of the VAT number or a similar number which is used to identify the business.

The evidence of the VAT number may be supplemented by:

  • details from the customer’s tax authorities which confirm that the customer is a taxable person
  • the customer’s order form containing their business address and trade registration number
  • a print-out of the customer’s website, to confirm that the customer is conducting an economic activity.

Supplies to non-business customers outside the EU (B2C)

To supply the services free of VAT, the supplier will need to provide proof that the customer is established outside the European Union (EU).

You must obtain the necessary information from the customer and verify the accuracy of that information. Credit card pre-authorisation checks can verify the address associated with a card number.

If you incorrectly identify a supply as a non-EU supply and VAT do not charge VAT, you may be liable for Irish VAT. You may also incur interest and penalties in the event of a Revenue audit.

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