With the introduction of the single market on 1 January 1993 , fiscal customs based controls at internal frontiers were abolished and a new VAT control system was put in place for intra-Community trade. The most significant benefit was the reduction of the administrative burden on companies; with the elimination of some 60 million customs documents per annum.
Under the new VAT system intra-Community supplies of goods are exempt from VAT in the Member State of despatch when they are made to a taxable person in another Member State who will account for the VAT on arrival. Therefore any taxable person making such supplies must be able to check quickly and easily that their customers in another Member State are taxable persons and do hold a valid VAT identification number. For that purpose, inter alia, each tax administration maintains an electronic database containing the VAT registration data of its traders. Such information includes the VAT identification number, the trader's name, the trader's address.
A computerised VAT Information Exchange System (V.I.E.S.) was set up to allow for the flow of the data held across the internal frontiers which:
- enables companies to obtain rapidly confirmation of the VAT numbers of their trading partners
- Enables VAT administrations to monitor and control the flow of intra-Community trade to detect all kinds of irregularities
The unit responsible for the control of intra-Community trade in each Member State , the Central Liaison Office (CLO), has a direct access through VIES to the VAT registration database of the other Member States.
National Access Mechanism
Traders, making an enquiry as to whether a particular VAT number is valid or whether it is correctly associated with a specified trader name and/or address, gain access to the VAT registration verification system through their national CLO, which will give one of the following replies:
- Yes, valid VAT number
- No, invalid VAT number
- Yes, the VAT number is associated with a given name/address
- No, the VAT number is not associated with a given name/address
(N.B. For security and data protection reasons, the national administrations will not supply the name and address in relation to a valid number).
The methods used in the Member States to deal with trader enquiries differ significantly. Some have implemented on-line systems to automate traders' access to the information while others have administrative units that answer traders' inquiries made by phone, mail or fax
The European Commission maintains this website to enhance access by taxable persons making intra-Community supplies to verification of their customers' VAT identification numbers. Our goal is to supply instantaneous and accurate information. A real time response is obtained for any user querying an EU VAT number in a specified EU country. To aid the user in navigating the site it gives some warning or help messages in all eleven EU languages. This web site is open to anyone and gives a similiar service to the national systems, providing a "yes" or "no" answer to the user for the first two questions only.
The Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to the information obtained using this site. This information:
- is obtained from Member States' databases over which the Commission services have no control and for which the Commission assumes no responsibility; it is the responsibility of the Member States to keep their databases complete, accurate and up to date;
- is not professional or legal advice (if you need specific advice, you should always consult a suitably qualified professional);
- does not in itself give a right to exempt intra-Community supplies from Value Added Tax;
- does not change any obligations imposed on taxable persons in relation to intra-Community supplies.
It is our goal to minimise disruption caused by technical errors. However some data or information on our site may have been created or structured in files or formats which are not error-free and we cannot guarantee that our service will not be interrupted or otherwise affected by such problems. The Commission accepts no responsibility with regard to such problems incurred as a result of using this site or any linked external sites.
This disclaimer is not intended to limit the liability of the Commission in contravention of any requirements laid down in applicable national law nor to exclude its liability for matters which may not be excluded under that law.