Since the UK left the EU, there have been changes in EU VAT which you may be unlikely to consider the implications of, unless you are involved in importing or exporting goods.
If you supply services to private customers in the EU, you may be affected by how EU countries apply their own use and enjoyment provisions.
Use and enjoyment rules in the UK
The general “place of supply” rule is that UK VAT is charged when services are provided to a private customer outside the UK. There are some exceptions to this. For example, services relating to land, and services of a professional, financial, intellectual, or technical nature.
These services are treated as being supplied where the customer is situated and are outside the scope of UK VAT.
The general place of supply of services rule is not applied when the UK use and enjoyment rules apply.
However, the place of supply of certain specified services is where they are used and enjoyed, this includes:
- Where the place of supply would be the UK, but the services are effectively used and enjoyed outside the UK, and
- Where the place of supply would be outside of the UK, but the services are effectively used and enjoyed in the UK.
Where this is the UK, the services are subject to UK VAT.
The UK applies the use and enjoyment rules to the letting on hire of goods (including transport services) and television and broadcasting services regardless of whether the customer is a business or private customer.
Services provided to business customers only which are caught by the use and enjoyment provisions are:
- electronically supplied services
- telecommunications services
- repairs to goods under an insurance claim
Use and enjoyment rules in the EU
Some EU countries have applied use and enjoyment rules to a much broader range of services. This means that UK businesses providing services to private customers resident overseas may have to register for VAT in the country/countries in which their customers are located.
France, in particular, have adopted the rules for all services provided to private customers in France by non-EU businesses unless covered by an exception. The exceptions are:
- services linked to immoveable property,
- cultural services,
- passenger transport and transport of goods,
- travel agencies,
- electronically provided services,
- intermediary services
- short term means of transport.
Other services provided to private customers in France will be subject to French VAT (TVA) and, as there is no VAT registration threshold for businesses which do not have an establishment in France, UK businesses with as few as one customer in France could find they are required to be VAT registered.
If these are services that UK law deems to be supplied in the UK for VAT purposes, then there is potentially a double charge to VAT.
The extent to which each EU country applies use and enjoyment rules is different, which could create a need for UK businesses to register for VAT in numerous EU countries if they make supplies to non-business customers.
UK businesses providing services to private customers in EU countries, should get in touch with the VAT team at Shorts for expert advice on VAT registration requirements in the EU.
My area of expertise is land and property transactions but I have extensive knowledge of both domestic and international VAT and I love complex VAT queries. I have an Honours degree in Business Studies and a VAT legal and technical qualification from the Institute of Indirect Taxation.View my articles