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HMRC internal manual

VAT Civil Penalties

What is an EC Sales List inaccuracy


Since 1 January 1993, traders registered for VAT in the UK who make supplies of goods to traders registered for VAT in other European Community (EC) Member States have been required to submit lists of their EC supplies.

These lists are known as EC Sales Lists (ESLs) and are usually made on Form VAT 101. Some traders submit details of their supplies via ECSL (Online Service) or Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and other traders are approved to provide information on a “plainpaper” basis.

The majority of traders submit their ESLs on a calendar quarterly basis, others submit on an annual or monthly basis. ESLs must be submitted no later than 42 days after the end of the period to which the statement relates.

Note: There is no requirement to submit a nil statement.

The information submitted on ESLs is used to update the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) database which forms an effective tool to monitor movements of goods within the EC and deter fraud.

You can find detailed guidance about the ESL system in VAT Notice 725: The Single Market.

The Form VAT 411 which enables a UK registered trader to supply a new means of transport, (e.g. car, boat, plane) zero-rated for export to another Member State, is regarded as an EC Sales List (ESL). You can find further information on new means of transport in VAT Notice 725 The Single Market.

The provision to impose penalties for material inaccuracies on EC Sales lists has been available from 1 January 1993.

A civil penalty exists for material inaccuracies on ESLs.

In order to issue a penalty, a written warning must be issued within 6 months of the discovery of a material inaccuracy. In the event of a further material inaccuracy within 2years of the written warning a penalty liability notice should be issued. If there is yet another material inaccuracy within 2 years of the penalty liability notice then there will be a liability to penalty.

The penalty, which relates to the whole sales statement, is £100.

There are no implications under the Human Rights Act for inaccuracies in EC Sales Lists penalties, see VCP10160.