Sworn Translations for EU VAT Registration
If you have a business that sells goods or services to consumers within the EU, then you may need to register for EU VAT in each country you sell into. This article provides useful guidance for individuals and companies that have been asked to procure a translation to support an EU VAT registration. We cover the following areas:
- Why your business may need to register for VAT in the EU
- Documents that may be required as part of your application
- Information about sworn translations for EU VAT registration
Why would you need an EU VAT registration?
There are three main reasons why your business may need to register for VAT in the EU:
1. VAT registration is strictly regulated across the EU and the UK.
For example, If a person makes taxable supplies in the UK, but has no establishment there, they must register for VAT regardless of the value of such supplies ( HMRC Brief 31/2012). Whilst UK established taxable persons only need to register for VAT if they make taxable supplies of over £85,000 yearly, non-UK established taxable persons (NETPs) do not benefit from this threshold and have to register for VAT for all taxable supplies.
The EU VAT Directive (2006/112/EC) has also clearly defined who is a taxable person (Article 9) and enabled the member states to “adopt any measures needed to prevent tax evasion or avoidance”. This has been enacted to tackle what is perceived as a huge VAT revenue loss yearly, which was estimated at €150 billion in 2016 alone. EU countries, such as Germany’s Bescheinigungen nach § 22f UStG (2019), the French Finance Act (2018) and Italy’s Growth Decree (2019), along with the incoming EU eCommerce Package (2021) are all geared towards tightening VAT compliance rules across the EU, with steep penalties being enacted for non-compliance.
2. Online Marketplaces are strictly enforcing VAT compliance
If you’re looking to sell on the Amazon or eBay marketplaces within the EU, then you will need to have a valid VAT number in each EU member state that you’re selling in otherwise your seller account application may be rejected.
If you try to skirt the rules, or commit VAT fraud, then your seller account will likely be restricted or cancelled, whilst your goods may be destroyed.
3. Registering for VAT saves you time & money on your cross border business
Registering for VAT from the outset in each EU member state you’re selling to could help reduce double taxation, and provides better clarify in terms of tax compliance.
However, the initial registration is usually extremely time consuming and may involve complex communication with tax officials in different langauges, so getting professional help could be beneficial.
VAT Documents that will be required
You will need to contact the relevant registration or tax department in the country you wish to register your business before assessing what documents you need. Each EU country has different registration rules, although in many cases there are a lot of similarities.
Each EU country has different regulations for new business branch registrations and VAT registration. The first point of contact should be the relevant registration or tax authority in the country you wish to register your business. A handy reference site that has links to the entry portals for the individual EU nations is provided here.
Commonly required documents that may include the following:
- completed application forms;
- engagement letter;
- power of attorney (proxy) form;
- proof of signature by someone who can legally represent the company;
- certificate of incorporation showing details of the incorporation in the company’s base nation;
- proof of transactions you intend to undertake that could be taxable in the country you intend registering in;
- home country’s VAT certificate, normally only valid if it is less than 3 to 6 months old;
- articles of association from incorporation in home country;
- bank guarantee if you have a nominated fiscal representative.
Any or all of these documents (the list is not exhaustive) may be required to be translated by a sworn translator if they are not issued in the local language and depending on country-specific rules about legal documents.
Sworn Translations are Essential for VAT Registration
If you intend registering your business in one of the 27 EU member states, you will probably need to provide a translation of all any documentation required by the relevant registration authority.
Whilst some EU member states will accept docuemnts issued in several different languages (e.g. non-English speaking countries accepting English documents), many EU member states (such as Spain) have a requirement for all foreign documents to be translated, and for the translations to be completed by a sworn translator registered locally.
Generally, this requirement has been waived if the business intending to register for VAT is itself based in another EU state. However, this waiver does not apply to non EU based business, including the United Kingdom, which is in a transitional situation with regards to its agreements with the European Union.
A sworn translator is a translator who has taken an oath in a court of law and is approved to provide translations between two langauges that are acceptable within a specific country. Their translations will usually be accompanied by their stamp, signature, and sworn statement attesting to the accuracy of the translation.
Sworn translations are normally accompanied by an Apostille on the original document they are translating, which is a form of authentication adopted by the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961.
To summarise, documents presented for registration within the EU should usually be legalised (where you obtain an Apostille on the original document) and translated by an official / sworn translator recognised within the country you’re registering in.
EU Countries that require a sworn translation
All EU countries require accurate translations of requested documents for VAT registration from a non EU based business entity assuming that the documents provided are not in the language that is acceptable in that country. Some EU countries accept different languages, so you should check first before requesting a translation. Rules do vary somewhat from one EU country to another, so it is possible that in Poland, for example, or Spain, that you are required to use a sworn translator, but in Germany or Sweden, you do not.
Pricing & Process
We offer a 48-hour turn-around time for sworn translation services for legal documents. Prices for sworn document translations start from 41,5 € per page and can be obtained from our online quotation page.
Sworn business document translations can be provided for all 27 EU member states.
J&P Chartered Certified Accountants (known as J&P) is a respected accountancy firm registered in the United Kingdom and a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Their professional teams practice up-to-date local knowledge of taxation, accounting, and finance to ensure your business operates legitimately and successfully across the UK and the EU.
J&P Accountants provide businesses with an array of accounting and finance services, acting as a Cross Border Taxation Agent and recommended Tax Advisor by large online selling Marketplaces. They specialize in worldwide VAT Compliance Solutions for cross-border E-commerce traders who are trading around the world via online selling marketplaces. They also provide sole traders and small to medium enterprises with an array of accounting and finance services such as Business Setup, Corporation Tax, Self Assessment, Payroll, Tax Planning, Compliance Checks and EU & UK VAT.
You can contact them via [email protected] for questions about VAT registration within the EU.