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Cross Border Rulings on VAT

I have heard that there is a facility for businesses and their advisers to obtain rulings on cross border transactions.  What is it all about?

A facility is available whereby a business which is uncertain about the VAT treatment of a cross border transaction in the EU can contact HMRC and ask for a ruling.

How long is this facility going to be available?

At the moment, this is a pilot project which began in June 2013 and is currently set to run until September 2018.  Until VAT is aligned across all member states, it seems that this will be a very useful and popular facility, so we will have to wait and see if the project is extended past the current end date.

Why would a business want to do this?

As anyone who has ever dealt with VAT will know, as soon as a transaction spans more than one EU country, things start to get complicated.  The rules in each country are similar but not identical and, in some cases, it is not clear which country is the place of supply for VAT purposes.  More difficulties arise as businesses have to look at rules in other countries, and other languages.  In some places the guidance in each country can be contradictory, leaving the impression that VAT is due in neither country, or in both countries, which is clearly not the intention of the law.

Are all the EU countries involved?

Unfortunately not but, at present, there are eighteen countries which have signed up to this agreement: Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Estonia, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Hungary, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

What sorts of questions are the team looking at?

Below are some examples of actual queries the team have dealt with:

International events

A company had exclusive rights to offer promotion and hospitality areas at race tracks hosting Moto GP motorcycle racing world championships events and wanted to know the place of supply for:

  • providing access to "selling areas” – specifically the designated areas around the trackside, “let out” to customers using those areas to put up their own stand and/or sell products;
  • the supply of VIP Village passes – essentially race-day corporate tickets, including lunch and access to privileged areas; and
  • “personalisation” services, which include the same as the supply of VIP passes, but, if bought in sufficient number, the customer could upgrade to having its own personalized area, including access to promotional materials.

The cross border ruling team advised that:

  • Providing access to the "selling areas" is a service referring exclusively to the letting of immovable property (retail spaces). This service is related to real estate, and the place of supply is where the immovable property is located (Art. 47 Directive 2006/112).
  • The sale of VIP Village passes is a supply of an admission service and the place of supply is where the event takes place (Art. 53 of Directive 2006/112).
  • The "personalization" services, involving a particular area where the customer can have his own promotional material as a way to be identified by the guests, can be considered as advertising services, located at the place where the customer is established, in accordance with the general B2B supply of services rule (Art. 44 of Directive 2006/112) (on the condition that the personalization services are a single supply)

Goods transported to another country but then assembled before sale

A company A, established in France, sends goods to the UK where the goods are assembled by A before they are sold to a company B established in the UK.

The cross border ruling team advised that company A carries out an assimilated intra-Community supply of goods on the basis of paragraph 1 of article 17 of the VAT Directive. The transfer of goods from France to the UK is VAT exempted in France on the basis of article 138.

The same company carries out a deemed intra-Community acquisition, which is taxable in the UK.  The subsequent supplies to company B constitute internal supplies in the UK, subject to VAT in the UK. As a consequence, company A must be registered for VAT purposes in the UK.

Rental of mooring services to intra-community customers

A company provided rental mooring services to intra-Community customers not resident in the territory of application of the tax but whose vessels were permanently in the territory.  The rental company wanted to know the place of supply of the services they provided.

The cross border ruling team advised that the rent was considered directly related to real estate and that the services were performed in the territory where the real state was placed and therefore subject to VAT in that State, regardless of the nationality of the client requesting the service

If I have a cross border query, how do I request a ruling from HMRC?

If the business in question is registered for VAT in the UK, a request for a ruling should be sent to Ms Ann Ling at

You will need to give a clear and detailed description of the facts of the specific case, explain what the treatment should be, in your opinion, and explain why there is uncertainty.

Where can I get more information?

More details are available in the information notice which can be found at:-


Author: Hilary Bevan, Baines Jewitt LLP, 01642 632032,


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