Do I need my customer's VAT no?
Thread poster: ian translates
May 10, 2006

I an basedin UK and have to invoice a customer in France. On my invoice, do I have to quote their VAT number? I've read some posts, but I'm still confused.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:37
Flemish to English
+ ...
Basic principle May 10, 2006

The basic principle of the European VAT-system is the report of levy: that means that the end-customer pays VAT if he/she does not have a VAT-number. Otherwise he/she claims it back.
If you are in the UK and you do not have an annual turnover of £60.000, you can opt in for VAT, but to save you the administrative troubles, it is better not to. As a self-employed you can reclaim expenses anyway, whehter you opt in or out.
Normally you should mention on your invoice that you are exempt of VAT, according to Vat-notice n°700/1 of HM Customs and Excises.
What the French customer does with "les beautés de l'administration française de la TVA" is his/her business.

To put if briefly:
1. UK>>UK: no VAT
2. UK>>EU: VAT is you are VAT-registered. If not exempt of VAT
3. UK>>Outside the E.U.: pure export and no VAT.

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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
English to German
+ ...
Depends May 10, 2006

I'd say it depends. I have a client in the Netherlands and one in Spain who requires me to put their VAT no. on each invoice. Others don't ask me to, but if I have their VAT id, I usually record it and the software puts it there automatically.

Don't know about France. Maybe someone else can answer that. When in doubt, I'd ask the client directly if he needs to have his own VAT no. somewhere on the invoice.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:37
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Yes May 10, 2006

Assuming that you are VAT-registered yourself:

Yes you do have to quote it, if the client has one.

If the client does not have a VAT number, and is in another EU country, then you have to charge them VAT on your invoice.

If they do have a VAT number, you do not charge them VAT. However, then you must quote their VAT number - and not only quote it, but first check its validity online at

If they have a VAT number, and are entitled not to be charged VAT by you, they will certainly object to paying any VAT. Therefore, you must squeeze their number out of them. Usually they do not voluntarily provide it. Sometimes it is on their web site, under the imprint, sometimes not. If not, you need to e-mail them or phone them and find it out.

However, if you are not VAT-registered, you do not need to quote anybody's number.


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ian translates
Thanks everyone May 12, 2006

Thanks everyone, especially Astrid. We ARE registered for VAT, and of course when weinvoice in UK we charge VAT. We don't charge VAT to EU customers, but weren't sure whether to put a simple note on the invoice (export supply or whatever) was sufficient for the UK VAT authorities, or whether we should mention the customer's VAT number as well (all VAT registered companies - household names). We've never put customers' VAT numbers on invocies before, but I've noticed people talking about doing this. I still don't know the legal position here, so I guess someone who likes talking to VAT inspectors has a phone call to make.
Yhanks for your time.

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