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Why you probably need a VAT number if you’re based in France

Most freelancers in France seem to believe that, like in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (and possibly other states), small business with income below a certain threshold are not required to acquire an intra-EU VAT number. However, a government website makes it very clear that any French business or auto-entrepreneur that purchases or supplies services across EU borders needs to obtain a number. The €10,000 threshold that applies to goods does not apply to services. Here’s what the French authorities say:

En revanche, le numéro devient obligatoire … lorsqu’elle vend ou achète des prestations de services à des sociétés établies dans l’UE.

This rule is so unknown that many freelance translators have reported that they have struggled to convince the tax office to give them a VAT number. I therefore recommend that when you request the number, you provide the tax authorities with a print-out of the webpage that states that you require it.

To request the number, you must use the messaging service of your professional account.

See also Invalid Swedish VAT numbers – how to correct them.

If you found this article useful, why not translate it into French so that more people will find it? I will add a sentence stating who translated it and a link to your website. You may use the article on your own blog too, provided that you state the source. Send me an e-mail if you are interested.


IVA en las entregas intracomunitarias

Los traductores en España tienen ciertas obligaciones cuando quieren hacer una entrega intracomunitaria, es decir, un trabajo para un cliente en otro país europeo. Voy a explicar, paso a paso, lo que hay que hacer.

  1. Hay que darse de alta en el registro de operadores intracomunitarios a través del Modelo 036 (casilla 130)
  2. Hay que comprobar que el cliente está inscrito en el registro equivalente en su país, haciendo dicha comprobación en la base de datos llamada VIES. Si el cliente no está en esta base de datos, el traductor en España tiene la obligación de cobrarle el IVA español, y las instrucciones siguientes no se aplican.
  3. Si el cliente está registrado en el VIES, hay que emitir una factura sin IVA y incluir la mención “inversión del sujueto pasivo” en la factura. Ya no es necesario citar ninguna ley. Las palabras “inversión del sujeto pasivo” son suficientes.
  4. Puesto que esta mención proporciona información a nuestro importante a nuestro cliente, recomiendo incluirla también en su propia lengua (ver la lista aquí abajo).
  5. Estos ingresos hay que incluirlos en la casilla 59 del modelo 303 (y, como todos los ingresos, en la casilla 1 del modelo 130).
  6. A parte, hay que declarar los datos de nuestro cliente a través del modelo 349, el cual muchos traductores tendrán que presentar trimestralmente, pero los que tuvieron ingresos (es decir, sin desgravar gastos) inferiores a €35.000 en el ejercicio anterior tendrán que presentarlo anualmente, en abril del año siguiente.
  7. Equivalencias oficiales de la mención “inversión del sujeto pasivo” en las otras lenguas oficiales de la Unión Europea:

      Alemán: Steuerschuldnerschaft des Leistungsempfängers
      Búlgaro: Oõратно начисдявае
      Castellano: Inversión del sujeto pasivo
      Catalán: Inversió del subjecte passiu
      Croata: Prijenos porezne obveze
      Checo: daň odvede zákazník
      Danés: Omvendt betalingsspligt
      Eslovaco: prenesenie daňovej povinnosti
      Esloveno: obrnjena davčna obveznost
      Estonio: Pöödmakssustamine
      Finés: Käännetty verovelvollisuus
      Francés: Autoliquidation
      Griego: αντιστροφής επιβάρυνση
      Húngaro: Forditott adózás
      Inglés: Reverse charge
      Irlandés: aistriú táille
      Italiano: Inversione contabile
      Letón: nodokļa apgrieztā maksāšana
      Lituano: atvirkštinis apmokestinimas
      Maltés: Inverżjoni tal-ħlas
      Neerlandés: BTW verlegd
      Polaco: ogne odwrotne obciążenie
      Portugués: Autoliquidação
      Rumano: taxare inversă
      Sueco: Omvänd betalningsskyldighet

VAT in cross-border transactions

One query that new VAT-registered translators in the EU often have when issuing an invoice to another EU country is what to put on the invoice to indicate that the VAT is due in the country of supply (i.e. the client’s country). In some countries, it used to be necessary to refer to a law, but more recently, under an EU directive, it is sufficient to add the words “reverse charge”, or the equivalent phrase in another EU language.

Since it is important to inform the client that the reverse-charge mechanism applies, I recommend including the equivalent label in the client’s language. The following list shows the official label in all the official languages of the EU.

    Bulgarian: Oõратно начисдявае
    Catalan: Inversió del subjecte passiu
    Croatian: Prijenos porezne obveze
    Czech: daň odvede zákazník
    Danish: Omvendt betalingsspligt
    Dutch: BTW verlegd
    English: Reverse charge
    Estonian: Pöödmakssustamine
    Finnish: Käännetty verovelvollisuus
    French: Autoliquidation
    German: Steuerschuldnerschaft des Leistungsempfängers
    Greek: αντιστροφής επιβάρυνση
    Hungarian: Forditott adózás
    Irish: aistriú táille
    Italian: Inversione contabile
    Latvian: nodokļa apgrieztā maksāšana
    Lithuanian: atvirkštinis apmokestinimas
    Maltese: Inverżjoni tal-ħlas
    Polish: ogne odwrotne obciążenie
    Portuguese: Autoliquidação
    Romanian: taxare inversă
    Slovakian: prenesenie daňovej povinnosti
    Slovenian: obrnjena davčna obveznost
    Spanish: Inversión del sujeto pasivo
    Swedish: Omvänd betalningsskyldighet

Invalid French VAT numbers – how to correct them

On more than one occasion, I have had issues obtaining a valid intracommunity VAT number (numéro de TVA intracommunautaire) from French clients or service providers. The problems fall into two categories:

16-character or 14-character number instead of an 11-character number

Sometimes I have been given a 16-digit or 14-digit number instead of an 11-digit number. This is because the client or service provider is confusing their VAT number with their SIRET number.

The SIRET number is a 14-digit number consisting of a 9-digit SIREN number (e.g. 123 456 789, although the first two characters may be letters) followed by a five-digit NIC number, which usually starts with at least two zeros. An example SIRET number would be 123 456 789 00123.

French VAT numbers begin with the FR prefix, followed by a two-digit control number, followed by the 9-digit SIREN number. So, the company with the aforementioned SIRET and SIREN numbers might have the VAT number FR 12 123 456 789.

A 16-digit number is the result of the client or service provider adding the “FR ##” prefix to the 14-digit SIRET number, instead of to the 9-digit SIREN number.

So, if the client gives you a 16-digit number, such as FR 12 123 456 789 00123, simply drop the final five digits, and you have the intra-community VAT number (assuming the company has such a number – see below).

If the client gives you a 9-digit SIREN number, you can use an online tool to convert it to the corresponding VAT number.

But beware! The number you generate may only be a theoretical number, i.e. the number the client or service provider would be assigned if they applied for an intracommunity VAT number. But the client might not have applied. Before you can issue a VAT-free invoice under the reverse-charge mechanism you must check that they are registered in the VIES system.

See also Invalid Swedish VAT numbers – how to correct them.


Invalid Swedish VAT numbers – how to correct them

I have recently arranged a job with a client based in Sweden. I asked the client for the company’s VAT number, and he sent me a number with the format SE123456-7890. I tested the number (without the hyphen, since you should always remove hyphens and spaces when entering a VAT number) on the VIES website and was told the number was invalid. The VIES website lists the formats of VAT numbers for each EU member state, and says that Swedish numbers contain 12 digits. Mine, as you can see, only had 10.

Fortunately the Wikipedia’s list of formats gives additional information. It says that all Swedish numbers end in 01, and gives a link to a Swedish website. Although I don’t speak Swedish, I do understand enough words to see that it’s saying that you add 01 to convert a national number to an international VAT number. I tried adding 01 to the number, and sure enough the VIES website gave me the name of my client’s company, thus confirming that I had the correct number.

So, if a Swedish-based client sends you a 10-digit, rather than a 12-digit, VAT number, just add 01 to the end of it.

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