How to check the validity of an intracommunity VAT number

Fiscal

How to check the validity of an intracommunity VAT number

Any European company subject to VAT has an intracommunity VAT number, also known as the "tax identification number” (TIN). This number is issued free of charge by the tax authority of each member country of the European Union.
The VAT number is national and always begins with the first two or three letters of the issuing country. Each company has a unique number which is, moreover, impossible to change. A company can have only one VAT number per member State, although it can have a VAT number in each member State. To find out more about obtaining a VAT number in another member State, go to our tax agent page.

Composition of an intra-community VAT number

In France, the VAT numbers are made up of 13 characters as follows:

  • • the country code (FR)
  • • a two-digit computer key
  • • the SIREN number of your company


Each member country has a different composition. The structure of the numbers is shown in the following table:

Country Country Code Characters Country Country Code Characters
Austria AT 8 Italy IT 11
Belgium BE 9 Latvia LV 11
Bulgaria BG 9 or 10 Lithuania LV 9 or 12
Croatia HR 11 Luxembourg LU 8
Cyprus CY 9 Netherlands NL 12
Czech Rep. CZ 8, 9 or 10 Malta MT 8
Estonia EE 9 Poland PL 10
Finland FI 8 Portugal PT 9
France FR 11 Romania RO 10
Germany DE 9 Slovakia SK 9 or 10
Greece EL 9 Slovenia SI 8
Hungary HU 8 Spain ES 9
Ireland IE 8 Sweden SE 12

 

Verification of an intra-community VAT number using the VIES database

The tax identification number (intracommunity VAT number) of companies in the member States of the European Union are collected in a computer database which can be consulted at the official EU website, Europa. The validity of the VAT numbers of clients and suppliers can be verified on this database. It is advisable to retain proof of validation of the number. This proof is also very useful in the event of a tax audit. Furthermore, it is important to check each new client or supplier and to conduct verification regularly. Some countries may deactivate a VAT number from one day to the next.

Caution: some countries, such as Germany for example, have two types of VAT numbers: a local VAT number (steuernummer) and an intracommunity VIES VAT number. It is important to state the intracommunity VAT number of your clients on invoices and not the local VAT number.

What should you do if the VIES database shows that the number is not valid?

If the system shows that the number is not valid, you must first of all check with your client or supplier that the number given is correct (number of characters, etc.). If the number is still not valid, your client or supplier must approach their tax authority to update the company data in the VIES database.  Any amendments concerning the VAT identification number are always reserved for the tax authority which allocated the number. You can identify it by referring to the country code which precedes the VAT number.

It is important to note that if the VAT number of your trading partner is not valid, the latter will not be regarded as a taxpayer. If you make intracommunity deliveries to a non-taxpayer, VAT is applicable in terms of the distance-selling regime. In other words, you must make sure that your client has a valid VAT number in order to apply the VAT exemption; otherwise you must invoice the VAT.

The European Commission has prepared FAQs on the VIES system. Please consult them on this page.

Share on social networks

Find out more on obtaining an intracommunity VAT number in another member country

ASD specialises in obtaining intracommunity VAT numbers and processing VAT declarations in every European Union country. Contact us for further information on our services.

Find out more about the author of the article

ASD Group

ASD Group

News

Find all our news on VAT and customs, decrypted by our experts

Free-trade with Canada: how to take advantage of the business opportunities abroad? Fiscal

Free-trade with Canada: how to take advantage of the business opportunities abroad?

At a time when many countries are questioning their degree of economic openness and are retreating into protectionism, Canada opens up to foreign markets. Gradually, Canada positions itself in(...)

Read more
VAT reverse charge : VAT refunds outstanding Fiscal

VAT reverse charge : VAT refunds outstanding

Normally, European companies that carry out taxable operations in other European Union member countries, are required to identify themselves for VAT in those countries. In order to fight(...)

Read more
Reinforcement of obligations concerning posted workers Social

Reinforcement of obligations concerning posted workers

Starting from 1st of July 2017, new rules will come into force regarding mandatory declarations and displaying information for the posted workers. Public and private project owners and(...)

Read more
With ASD: international growth made easy News

With ASD: international growth made easy

Read the story of the ASD Group, published by the Select Sophia magazine in its "Eco News and Innovation" category. The article tells the evolution of the ASD Group, explains its(...)

Read more
How will the CETA impact Canada and the European Union? Fiscal

How will the CETA impact Canada and the European Union?

With the technological advances of the 21st century, it seems that we live in a world without boundaries. These incredible breakthroughs have changed the way we access information,(...)

Read more
POSTING OF FOREIGN WORKERS TO FRANCE – NEW DECREE Social

POSTING OF FOREIGN WORKERS TO FRANCE – NEW DECREE

Starting from 1st July 2017, a new decree reinforces the rules regarding the posting of employees, in particular in the Building & Public Works and Transport sectors, to combat illegal(...)

Read more
Recovery of British VAT Fiscal

Recovery of British VAT

What are the conditions for securing a VAT refund in the United Kingdom? What are the conditions for securing a VAT refund in the United Kingdom? A company established in a member country(...)

Read more
How do you recover your VAT in Spain? Fiscal

How do you recover your VAT in Spain?

What are the conditions for securing a VAT refund in Spain? A company established in a member country of the European Union which has incurred specific taxable expenditure in Spain can(...)

Read more
Presentation of ASD Group by Magalie Delangue on CCI Nice TV News

Presentation of ASD Group by Magalie Delangue on CCI Nice TV

The Web TV of the French Chamber of Commerce of Nice Riviera interviewed our General Manager Malagie Delangue to present our company's services and our development. You can watch the entire(...)

Read more
Our experts are at your disposal to answer your questions. Benefit from a free consultation!
Ask us for advice