VAT rules for Trade in the EU

Intrastat is the system for collecting statistics on the movement of goods (not services) between EU member states – there are some essential VAT rules for trade in the EU. The information is used by various government departments, economists and financial institutions.

There are two separate Intrastat VAT requirements

1. All VAT-registered traders must complete boxes E1 and E2 on the VAT3 return.
E1 relates to the total cost of goods to other EU countries. E2 relates to total cost of goods from other EU countries. Total cost includes all taxes, commissions, costs and charges but does not include VAT chargeable in respect of the goods.

2. VAT registered traders whose total dispatches to other EU member states exceeds €635,000 pa or whose total arrivals from other EU member states exceeds €500,000 pa must complete a detailed monthly Intrastat return.

Failure to comply with Intrastat regulations can result in a fine of €1,265 on summary conviction. An additional fine of €60 per day can be imposed for continuing non-compliance. There is also provision for the prosecution of the directors, managers, secretary, or similar officer of a body corporate in certain circumstances.

If an error of 5% or more is made on an Intrastat return, the trader must inform the VIMA office immediately.

All Intrastat returns must be filed on ROS. If you have any queries about whether you need to file a monthly Intrastat return, you should contact the VIMA office.

What Information is Required on the Monthly Return?

The monthly Intrastat return is very detailed. The following information is required for each type of good dispatched or received in the month:

  • The individual/company’s own name, address and VAT registration number (preset)
  • Commodity code for each item. Transactions under €200 can be amalgamated.
  • Country of consignment / country of destination
  • Country of origin in the case of arrivals. This may not necessarily be the same as the country of consignment.
  • Mode of transport
  • Nature of transaction e.g. sale/purchase, goods for repair, building materials for construction contracts
  • Invoice value
  • Delivery terms *
  • Statistical value *
  • Net mass in kg
  • Some commodity codes require a supplementary unit e.g. number of items, litres

* Only required of traders with annual EU trade of Arrivals over €5,000,000 and/or Dispatches over €34,000,000

Bookkeeping staff, financial controllers and business-owners need to be aware of the Intrastat regulations and have procedures to ensure compliance. It is essential that systems are in place to capture the relevant Intrastat data in accounting or stock control software. Manually locating the data on shipping and delivery dockets can be very laborious and time-consuming. If possible, encourage suppliers to include the commodity code on invoices and delivery documentation.

Additional Info

The Revenue’s VIES and Intrastat manual is an easy-to-read guide to the VAT rules for trade in the EU, and contains details of scenarios such as the temporary movement of goods, returns, leasing and purchases from private individuals.

Remember that you may also be required to complete a VIES return if you supply zero-rated goods or services to businesses in other EU countries.

As always, if you have any queries of a general nature, please leave a comment below.


Updated 11/04/19

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