VAT guide for Shopify stores in the EU

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If you are a Shopify store owner based in the European Union, it is crucial to understand when to charge VAT or even which tax rate applies to which customer.

This article will help you understand this topic and correctly set up your online store.

The most significant distinction for your business is whether it is VAT-registered or not.

Many businesses start as unregistered. However, once their taxable turnover in the last twelve months is above a certain threshold, they need to register for VAT. This threshold is usually around €35,000 in some EU countries and €100,000 in others.

In this article we will discuss

My business is not VAT-registered

If your taxable turnover in the last twelve months is below the country's VAT registration limit where your store is based, it is most likely not VAT-registered.

This means that you do not charge VAT on your sales regardless of where your customers come from.

My business is VAT-registered

If your business is VAT-registered, you have to charge VAT to some customers, but not to others. The table below shows whom you need to charge VAT and when.

Two factors determine whether you should charge VAT or not — what country your customer is in and whether you are selling to a consumer (B2C) or a business (B2B).
Customers from Consumers (B2C) Businesses (B2B)
The same EU country VAT VAT
A different EU country VAT No VAT
Outside the EU No VAT No VAT

You also need to include your VAT registration number on your invoices and receipts to make them valid.

Customers from the same EU country

When selling to consumers (B2C) and businesses (B2B) in your home country, you should always charge VAT and use the applicable VAT rate in your country. This applies to selling both physical and digital goods.

VAT for customers in the same EU country

A German store selling within Germany

Customers from different EU countries

When selling to customers from other EU countries, you need to distinguish between selling to consumers and businesses and, in the former case, whether you are selling physical and digital goods.

VAT for customers in a different EU country

Consumers in other EU countries should be charged VAT, but not businesses

Consumers buying physical goods

When selling physical goods to consumers (B2C) from other EU countries, you should always charge VAT.

Unless the total value of your sales to the customer's country exceeds a specific limit, you charge the VAT rate of the country your business is based in.

VAT for physical goods in the EU

German stores should charge customers in different EU countries the German VAT rate for physical goods

If your taxable turnover in the last twelve months in a different country exceeds its VAT threshold, you will need to register for a local VAT registration number and then charge the VAT rate of the customer's country.

VAT thresholds vary from country to country and are typically around €35,000 or €100,000 per year. Non-Eurozone countries will have the threshold in their local currency.

VAT for physical goods when registered in another EU country

German stores with a VAT number in Spain should charge Spanish customers the Spanish VAT rate

In such cases, your business will have multiple VAT registration numbers, and you will need to make sure to always include appropriate VAT registration numbers on your invoices.

Consumers buying digital goods

When selling digital goods (such as e-books, downloadable music, stock photographs, or online courses) to consumers (B2C) from other EU countries, you should charge the VAT rate applicable in the customer's country.

VAT for digital goods in the EU

Consumers buying digital goods should always be charged their local VAT rate

VAT rates in different EU countries vary (from 15% to 27%), so you will be charging specific VAT rates to customers from different EU countries.

Shopify allows you to set these tax rates for individual EU countries automatically.

Businesses

When selling to businesses with valid VAT registration numbers from other EU countries, you do not charge VAT for either physical or digital goods.

Such customers should be marked as tax-exempt in your Shopify store. Moreover, you should capture and validate your business customers' VAT registration number prior to allowing them to purchase your products.

Sufio allows you to easily capture and validate EU VAT numbers from your business customers and, when applicable, automatically set them as tax-exempt.

Additionally, Sufio creates invoices that include all the necessary details to make them compliant with your invoicing legislation. Invoices can serve as valid documentation to show that your products were shipped to another EU member country.

Sufio Invoice with VAT registration number

Invoice with both the store's and the customer's VAT registration numbers

Customers outside the EU

When selling to customers outside the the EU, you should not charge VAT on any goods.

VAT for customers outside the EU

EU stores should not charge VAT to any customers from outside the EU

You will still need to report the sales VAT for taxation purposes, as sales with 0% VAT. Valid invoices, such as those created by Sufio, can serve as proof that the goods were shipped outside of the EU.

Caution

As of January 1, 2021, the UK is no longer part of the EU. Consequently, new regulations apply to direct sales between the UK and the European Union.

When selling to consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B) from the EU directly to the UK, you must register for a UK VAT registration number, and the applicable VAT rate is based on the total value of the order. Orders worth less than £135 are subject to 20% VAT at the point of sale. Orders worth over £135 are subject to import VAT rules.

Last updated on March 8, 2020.