Conditions for zero-rating: Time limits for exporting goods and obtaining evidence
Time limits for exporting goods supplied as direct or indirect exports were harmonised on 1 September 2000. Goods can be zero-rated provided that
- they are exported within 3 months of the time of supply, and
- valid evidence of export is obtained within 3 months of the time of supply.
The zero-rated supply is declared on the VAT return covering the time of supply (even though, at this point, the goods may not actually have been exported, or evidence of export is still to be obtained). If conditions are not met within time limits, the trader is required to account for output tax in the period in which the appropriate time limit expires.
If the trader fails to account for VAT when conditions for zero-rating are not met, follow the assessment procedures described in VEXP90300.
If the supplier later exports the goods and/or obtains valid evidence that the goods were exported he may zero-rate the supply and adjust his VAT account for the period in which he obtains the evidence. This is provided that the goods have not been used in the UK before export unless specifically authorised by HMRC.
For certain types of export, the 3-month time limit can be extended. Notice 703 Export of goods from the United Kingdom provides further details.