New VAT ruling for EU and translators
Thread poster: David Bean
David Bean
Local time: 16:05
German to English
+ ...
Dec 1, 2003

This is a complicated question on VAT for the European Union, but it also concerns translators outside the EU.

Our accountant here in England has informed us in writing that we as translators will no longer be required to add VAT to our invoices for work performed for English customers. This exemption also allegedly applies to customers that we invoice in other EU countries. Our accountant has reached this decsion on the basis of the new VAT rule governing "electronically supplied services" in the EU. I am including my reply to our accountant below.

My question is: should I VAT or not to UK, and to German customers who have no VAT number?. A complicated question.

Thanks for relating any experience you have.


Hi, Darren,

Thanks for your letter not long ago about the new VAT rules for work delivered in UK.

I have done some research on the Internet and have found an interesting document that I am faxing to you. The regulations seem very complicated. Please check the first sentence on the second page:

The new rules on electronically supplied services are not in-tended to change the VAT treatment of services where the use of an electronic network, such as the Internet, merely fa-cilitates communication in the same manner as the telephone or fax.

I believe, contrary to your letter, that we fall into this category, and not into the category of included services listed at the bottom of page 1 of this document. After all, we could fax the majority of our translations, or mail it on diskettes to our customers, and would achieve the same effect (although it would be very inefficient and tedious). We in fact worked this way before the Internet came in.

In other words, I believe that we are still going to have to charge VAT for our customers in England, and to our German customers who have no VAT number.

On the other hand, our profession has changed so over the years, that I cannot imagine working without the Internet on a practical basis. If we had no Internet, we would have no work. Work has to fly back and forth on the same day.

My first question is: could you clear this matter up and de-finitively find out our status as translators, and whether we should VAT our UK customers and German customers without VAT numbers. I am going to keep trying among my colleagues and on the Internet to find a solution.

Today I received e-mail from a hospital in Germany, after I had pressured them to get a VAT number. The one doctor wrote that the hospital is a public-service institution and is not subject to VAT, so they cannot get a VAT number. I have been billing the doctor at his private address, and have been adding VAT. He has tried to get a VAT number from the German VAT office in Saarlouis, and they will not give him one, since he has does not conduct a business.

So, my second question is: what should I do with this doc-tor? Continue billing him and adding VAT?

These two questions are related, I am sure.

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New VAT ruling for EU and translators

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