VAT: get clearance on the rules for complex transactions

Clarification from HMRC about how VAT law applies in a particular situation, and how to take part in an EU trial for complex cross-border VAT ruling requests.

How to get clearance

If you feel that HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC’s) guidance on VAT doesn’t explain how the law will apply in a particular situation, you can ask for a ‘clearance’.

A clearance is written confirmation of HMRC’s view of how tax law is applied to a specific transaction or event. HMRC will accept clearance applications from you, your tax agent or adviser. You’ll need to show that there’s uncertainty about how legislation will affect transactions you’re involved with. HMRC has guidance on how to obtain a clearance.

EU trial for VAT rulings

HMRC is participating in a trial of VAT ruling requests for complex cross-border situations until 30 September 2018.

If you’re planning cross-border transactions to one or more of the participating member states and you’re registered for UK VAT, you can request a ruling from HMRC. Your request must comply with the conditions for non-statutory clearance and relate to a complex, cross border transaction in 2 or more of the following member states:

  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

If your request is accepted and consultation is specifically sought, the member states will consult on the issue but there’s no guarantee that they’ll agree on the correct VAT treatment of your transaction. Member state contact details are shown in an EU information notice.

Published 1 January 2007
Last updated 13 June 2017 + show all updates
  1. The date of the trial for VAT ruling requests has been extended to 30 September 2018. Denmark, Ireland, Italy and Sweden have been added to list of participating member states.
  2. First published.