Client ID numbers on invoices
Thread poster: Susan Nicholls

Susan Nicholls  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
Jul 7, 2009

Hello

I've tried to search the forum for the answer to my query and found so many partial results I must have missed a trick in how to do a search. An hour down the line, after having read some very interesting posts on completely different matters, here is my question:

Do you have to put an ID number for your client on your invoices? My taxman here in Spain says you do, but I have a feeling that this is not necessarily so in other EU countries (like the UK). How would an individual paying VAT feel if I ask for their passport number or something? Or am I the only one who would find this slightly invasive? I don't really understand, if it is the law, why nobody seems to provide their IC VAT numbers or ID numbers as a matter of course, it is hard enough getting paid without trying to get all this info too! It maybe just that I am allergic to bureaucracy.
I'd like to hear your points of view...
Susan
(ESX4233423Z for future reference!)


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:25
English to French
+ ...
In France : name and address Jul 7, 2009

For an individual, just name and address, since it is not compulsory to have an ID card/passport.

When you buy a computer or other goods, you get an invoice but do the shopkeeper ask for your ID ? (I mean, if you pay cash.).

You might need to see an ID card as a proof when your customer pays with a cheque (I don't know if you use these in Spain, but here in France they are still very widely used ) but this has nothing to do with the invoice. Usually you write the ID number on the back of the cheque.


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:25
Member
French to English
+ ...
VAT ID or some other ID? Jul 7, 2009

Hi Susan,

Can you clarify whether you mean a VAT ID number (very common, although I'm unsure if it's actually "the law") or some other ID number?

I always include my customers' VAT ID numbers on my invoices; although as Nordiste says, this only goes for (European) companies and not for private individuals.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:25
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
VAT number Jul 7, 2009

Hi,

I live in Spain and your "taxman" is correct, however it is not an ID number you need to put on an invoice it is a VAT number.

Maybe your confusion is due to the fact that in Spain, individuals (not companies) have the same ID and VAT number, they are one and the same. However, in countries like the UK for example your VAT number and ID number (which in the UK does not exist, but I guess the closest thing would be your passport number) are completely different, I don't know how it works in other countries (if it is same or different as ID number), but anyway it doesn't really matter.

VAT is a complicated tax, but basically it boils down to this:

Only final clients (individuals) pay VAT
Companies collect VAT in the government's name and then have to pay it to the government
Only transactions within the EU pay VAT

Basically what goes on your invoice depends on the type of client (individual or company) and where they are (this is only valid for people issuing invoices from Spain, like you, in other countries it might be different):

In Spain - All invoices have to charge VAT, but only company invoices need VAT number, for individuals you can put it on, and in Spain everyone is used to giving it so no one will mind if you ask them for their NIF, but as far as I know it is not compulsory.

In Europe - Invoices to individuals need to charge VAT and do not need the client's VAT number, invoices to companies do not charge VAT but they do need a VAT number (the VAT number is what proves it is a company and let's you not have to charge VAT). Companies are use to providing this number so you should have no problem getting it, then you don't need to charge them VAT, individuals always pay VAT and you don't need their number.

Outside Europe - No VAT charge and no VAT numbers needed.

The difficult part is sorting all this out on your VAT tax form, but that is what your "gestor/gestoria" is for.

Also if you issue invoices to spanish companies you have to worry about IRPF depending on how much you invoice them a year, but that is another kettle of fish.


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Susan Nicholls  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Both apparently Jul 7, 2009

Hi Jocelyne and nordiste

According to my taxman (who does seem rather annoyed with me!):

Esto es muy importante: Todas las facturas emitidas que realizas a tus clientes, fuera de España, deben de incluir obligatoriamente el Número de Operador Intracomunitario en el caso de empresarios, y en el caso de personas físicas deben llevar el N.I.E. o su Nº de Pasaporte.

So VAT ID or ID or passport number.

Do you ever have any trouble getting hold of the VAT ID numbers? How do you go about asking for them? I receive POs with no mention of them. I do quite a bit of work for universities too, and I believe they may be exempt from VAT in any case - I must admit I feel a bit stupid asking these questions, I feel I should be more confident about the answers than I am (thank goodness for the forum).

Just seen Alex Lago's reply - not sure you and my taxman (don't you like that translation!!!) agree on the individual thing.

Thanks for your help.

Susan


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:25
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Clarify with your taxman Jul 7, 2009

Susan Nicholls wrote:

Just seen Alex Lago's reply - not sure you and my taxman (don't you like that translation!!!) agree on the individual thing.

Thanks for your help.

Susan


I am sorry but your taxman is wrong, only European companies need a VAT number, Europaen individuals do not (as always "Spain is different").

Your taxman is probably confusing "autonomos" with "individuos", an "autonomo" is a type of "company" and therefore needs to keep track of VAT, an "individuo" does not need to keep track.

If the person you invoice is self-employed and is going to put your invoice as an expense on their accounting books, then don't worry they will be the first ones to ask to have their VAT number put on the invoice as without it they can't use it as an expense. If they are an individual and the money will just come "out of pocket" you do not need the VAT number.


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Susan Nicholls  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
No Euro ID then! Jul 7, 2009

Thanks Alex.

I will take it up with my taxman. If I am not wrong there is a longstanding debate about ID numbers in the UK to do with general suspicion of state power and infringement of individual freedom - I think is quite a well entrenched feeling which makes it quite embarrassing (or is it just me?) to ask for ID from an individual. I am reassured.

By the by, that was a joke about you not liking my translation of asesor/gestor as "taxman", you would be right not to, I daresay it should be tax consultant or simply accountant. (In fact "taxman" probably comes from the Beatles song and it means the man collecting the tax - but maybe you know more about this than I do?)

Best wishes
Susan


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Alex Lago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:25
Member (2009)
English to Spanish
+ ...
No offence Jul 7, 2009

Sorry, but was not offended, don't know why you got that impression, only changed taxman to gestor because I thought that was who you were talking about.

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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:25
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
You can put down any number Jul 7, 2009

At least when your client is in the UK. I recently had discussion with Inland Revenue (or whatever they are called now) when a client from Portugal insisted they need my tax number. As you mentioned, we are deeply suspicious here of anybody who asks for any ID or other data (I do not think it is an English thing, I am Latvian but I have started to be paranoid as well, you just probably catch it if you live in the UK). And Inland Revenue explained that I can make up any 10 digit number and present it to the clients as my tax number - nobody would be able to verify this number anyhow since authorities would not discuss it with anybody. It's not like there is an European tax and ID number data base where you can confirm things.
It is not an advice, though, just an observation.

Ines


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Susan Nicholls  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:25
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good idea! Jul 7, 2009

A very good point, Ines, particularly if recommended by Inland Revenue.

Of course you can check EC VAT IDs though - there is a site to do so.

Best
Susan


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Mark Cole  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:25
Polish to English
+ ...
VAT or company registration number? Jul 7, 2009

IMHO there is no standard "ID" number for companies in England. If you are registered for VAT, you get a VAT number (which you can do so as an individual or as a company), and you have to quote this on any invoices, but others don't have to quote it when invoicing you, unless they do so from another EU country.

If you register as a company, you get a company registration number (which is shorter than a VAT number), but I don't think there is any obligation to quote it.

The others are right, generally people don't like being "numbered" in the UK - that is the whole idea of having names in the first place.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:25
Spanish to English
+ ...
¡Ojo! Passport numbers change Jul 7, 2009

Susan Nicholls wrote:

Hi Jocelyne and nordiste

According to my taxman (who does seem rather annoyed with me!):

Esto es muy importante: Todas las facturas emitidas que realizas a tus clientes, fuera de España, deben de incluir obligatoriamente el Número de Operador Intracomunitario en el caso de empresarios, y en el caso de personas físicas deben llevar el N.I.E. o su Nº de Pasaporte.


Susan


Spanish bureaucrats often ask British citizens for their passport numbers in the absence of a national identity card.

Imagine their surprise when they discover that when a passport holder renews his passport - the number changes and the old passport is usually thrown away.

Spanish bureaucrats cannot easily comprehend that an individual may freely walk the earth without holding the same name and number all their life.


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Client ID numbers on invoices

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