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French translation agency demanding VAT number
Thread poster: Jenny Nilsson

Jenny Nilsson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 03:07
English to Swedish
Oct 21, 2015

I did some work for a translation agency from France. I sent them an invoice and got paid. Today, they are telling me to update the invoice to include my VAT number because that is absolutely mandatory in France. I do not have a VAT number and I never needed one. What do I do in this situation?

 

Serena Basili  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 03:07
English to Italian
+ ...
Are they ISO certified? Oct 21, 2015

Hello Jenny,
If this agency is ISO certified, in order to have their certification confirmed each year, it needs to produce douments confirming its compliance with all rules, thus working with VAT registered professionals included in the VIES portal (if they are European).

You should promptly inform them that you don't have a VAT number and see what they reply.

HTH

S.


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:07
Member
Italian to English
Lucky you!!! Oct 21, 2015

I envy you not having one - here in Italy it is mandatory for anyone earning 5000 Euros or over!!! Here if a person does not have a VAT number, it is sufficient for them to put their tax code on the invoice in place of a VAT no. But that is Italy, of course - I do not know how Frenck tax law works.

The agency in question must have other Swedish translators on their books, surely? Ask them what the others do. Or maybe other French or Swedish colleagues will know.

Good luck!


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:07
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Have you a Tax Identification Number - TIN / ITIN? Oct 21, 2015

If you have a Tax Identification Number
aka International Taxpayer Identification Number,

you should be able to use that instead.

Check with your tax authority.

The Danish SKAT insists when it can on VAT numbers, but accepts an ITIN from one of my good clients.

[Edited at 2015-10-21 12:40 GMT]


 

Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:07
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
If you haven't already looked, here's Oct 21, 2015

at link to the Wikipedia page explaining VAT numbers:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VAT_identification_number

Scroll down to find Sweden in the table.


As I remember, it was no problem at all in Germany. I applied to the appropriate authority that I found through a Google search, and they sent it to me some time later. No fees, nothing, just a form to fill out online, I think (it was quite a long time ago). I don't know why it would be more complicated in any other EU country.


 

Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:07
French to English
You *do* need a VAT number Oct 21, 2015

And it has nothing to do with ISO certification... in recent years, in order to do business with businesses in other European countries, it has become increasingly necessary to have a valid VAT number, as the party you are doing business with has the obligation to check that the other party's VAT number is valid, and at least in France and some other countries I know about, businesses also have to report their intra-EU sales, which can't be done if you don't have the party's VAT number.

There is a European directive on this very issue, and there has been a lot of past discussion about it here on Proz. It seems that different countries have implemented different measures.... Hopefully you'll be able to find some relevant information about Sweden that will help. In any case, the French agency is certainly justified in asking for your VAT number, as that is required under French legislation.


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:07
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
TVA non-applicable Oct 21, 2015

Write:

"TVA non applicable, article 273B du CGI" on the invoice and send them the updated version.

I have a couple of companies for whom that was sufficient when I was still paying tax in the UK.

I'm sure others can enlighten you on the process further, but I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

You *DO NOT* necessarily need a VAT number.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:07
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not required Oct 21, 2015

Jenny Nilsson wrote:

I did some work for a translation agency from France. I sent them an invoice and got paid. Today, they are telling me to update the invoice to include my VAT number because that is absolutely mandatory in France. I do not have a VAT number and I never needed one. What do I do in this situation?


If you are resident in the UK for tax purposes, then you are exclusively responsible to the UK tax authorities. THere is no requirement under UK law for anyone to be registered for VAT unless their income exceeds GBP 82,000.

The requirements of French tax legislation, whatever they may be, would only apply to you if you were resident in France, for tax purposes.

I think that's all that needs to be said. However I would add that across the EU there seem to be far too many accountants who still think that their national arrangements should apply everywhere.

[Edited at 2015-10-21 14:25 GMT]


 

Patrick Porter
United States
Local time: 21:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
one possibility... Oct 21, 2015

http://www.randomnumbergenerator.com

icon_smile.gif

[just joking, of course]


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:07
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
You don't even NEED one in France Oct 21, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

Jenny Nilsson wrote:

I did some work for a translation agency from France. I sent them an invoice and got paid. Today, they are telling me to update the invoice to include my VAT number because that is absolutely mandatory in France. I do not have a VAT number and I never needed one. What do I do in this situation?


If you are resident in the UK for tax purposes, then you are exclusively responsible to the UK tax authorities. THere is no requirement under UK law for anyone to be registered for VAT unless their income exceeds GBP 82,000.

The requirements of French tax legislation, whatever they may be, would only apply to you if you were resident in France, for tax purposes.

I think that's all that needs to be said. However I would add that across the EU there seem to be far too many accountants who still think that their national arrangements should apply everywhere.

[Edited at 2015-10-21 14:25 GMT]


Which is where that aforementioned "TVA non-applicable" sentence comes from.

Obviously you do at some point but French translation agencies are unlikely to be fazed by the fact that you don't have one. But I believe they do need you to include that sentence on your invoices.


 

Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:07
French to English
VAT number vs VAT registration Oct 21, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

THere is no requirement under UK law for anyone to be registered for VAT unless their income exceeds GBP 82,000.

The requirements of French tax legislation, whatever they may be, would only apply to you if you were resident in France, for tax purposes.



There must be VAT registration thresholds in Sweden too, but just because Jenny doesn't have to register for VAT in Sweden (or wherever she has her business in the EU) doesn't mean that she can't apply for a VAT number to be used for intra-EU business.

In France, the threshold for VAT registration is around 32k €. Even if you don't have to register for VAT in France because you fall under the threshold, you can (and must!) still apply for a VAT number if you want to do business with other businesses in the EU. Having this special VAT number doesn't mean that you have to declare VAT or collect VAT, it doesn't change anything other than making it possible for all the parties involved to meet their legal obligations.

I think other countries (except the UK as far as I know) have implemented similar measures, to give a VAT number to those who aren't required to register for VAT. At the very least, there must be some guidelines in Sweden on how to deal with this situation, for example a special mention on the invoice as Interpretwhisky says...


 

jensskarpe  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:07
Member (2013)
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
It is not mandatory, but needed if to work in EU Oct 21, 2015

There is NO obligation to have a VAT number and local laws apply. However, if you dont have a EU VAT number you are obligued to add local VAT on the invoice. Offcourse a French dompany do not want to pay VAT in Sweden and have to ask for a refund in Sweden. A local Swedish VAT number is no help in this case, it has to be a EU VAT number. I would say that today it is mandatory for any translator working in a EU based country or you may have some problems in the future. ANother VERY IMPORTANT thing is that you also check the clients EU VAT number online to confirm they have one. There is no legal problems, but if there is an inspection YOU will have to pay the corresponding VAT that should have been added in the invoice in first place.

 

jensskarpe  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:07
Member (2013)
Swedish to Spanish
+ ...
EU VAT Oct 21, 2015

From the asnwers I get the impression that there are many translators that only word domestically or are not aware of the importance of the EU VAT number. The same goes if you need to buy something from another EU country (for instance a ProZ membership or a copy of Trados etc.), if you don´t have a EU VAT number you have to pay VAT for that product. The reason for all this and that invoices between EU countries are object of a lot of reviews are that there was a lot of fraud going on in the beginning with people making false invoices.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 03:07
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The rules are here Oct 21, 2015

The threshold for VAT registration here in Denmark is DKK 50,000 a year, which is very low, but mercifully administration is comparatively streamlined for small fry like freelance translators.
Even then, many of us pay an accountant to do it!

However, it means we have a VAT number, and we need to know clients' VAT numbers or charge them VAT...
But as I said, an ITIN number seemed to be good enough in one case.

The rules are here:
http://europa.eu/youreurope/business/vat-customs/buy-sell/index_sv.htm

Those who can't read Swedish can select another language at the top right corner. icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2015-10-21 17:11 GMT]


 

Catherine Brix
Local time: 03:07
Swedish to English
+ ...
If she's running a business Oct 21, 2015

she must have a VAT number in Sweden. Here they hit you for taxes from the get go ... She's not allowed to issue invoices without one. Not in Sweden, not outside. There are regulations stipulating exactly what must be included in every invoice issued.

 
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