Reclaiming foreign VAT

Your UK VAT registered business can get a refund of EU VAT for most goods and services you buy for your business.

You cannot normally reclaim GST and VAT from countries outside the EU. Nor can you reclaim EU VAT if the expense is not wholly and exclusively for the purposes of your business.

Moreover:

  • you need a proper VAT receipt from the actual supplier, addressed to your business, showing the rate of VAT charged and the exact amount of VAT charged
  • a “proforma invoice” is not a proper VAT receipt
  • what you can reclaim depends on the other EU country’s rules for reclaiming VAT
  • the rules for claiming are slightly different in each EU country
  • each EU country has set a minimum amount that can be refunded
  • if your business makes both taxable and exempt supplies, you may not be able to reclaim all of the VAT you have been charged

The minimum amount you can claim varies between EU countries, but is generally:

  • €400 for claims of more than 3 months but less than a year
  • €50 for claims for a whole year or the period between your last claim and the end of the year
  • These limits apply to countries on a case by case basis. Claiming back 10 lots of €30 across 10 different countries is not possible, as each claim would not meet the €50 minimum.
  • However, if all your EU VAT bills come from (for example) France, and the VAT totals (for example) €300 then your company will be able to make one claim for a 12 month period. With the exception of the UK, all EU states have a fiscal year which ends on 31 Dec, and all VAT refund claims for a fiscal year must be submitted before the following 30 Sep.

There is nothing to stop you from doing these EU VAT refunds yourself. We charge a minimum fee of £100 plus VAT for each EU VAT refund that we complete, so you will clearly need to do a cost benefit analysis before instructing us to complete your claim. Our fee is due on completion of the claim. Your claim is then referred via HMRC to the EU state where the VAT was suffered. It then takes between 4 and 8 months for your refund to reach you.

This system is likely to change after the UK formally leaves the EU.