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HMRC internal manual

VAT Export and Removal of Goods from the UK

Removals of goods to other Member States - evidential requirements: What evidence of removal is required?

With the absence of routine fiscal controls under the Single Market the risk of diversion of goods into free circulation within the EU increases, with the subsequent potential loss of VAT. EU mutual assistance agreements require every member State to ensure that goods for free movement within the EU are properly documented.

While no single document is essential to prove that goods have been removed to another member State, the evidence held by the supplier must clearly show the goods have been removed from the UK, not just that a supply has taken place.

Evidence of removal should be based on the documents and information that the supplier would normally obtain in the course of its intra-EU business. The ’basket of evidence‘ produced should be considered on its merits; for instance, proof of payment in foreign currency alone would not be considered adequate evidence as payment can be arranged in any currency.

Notice 725 - The Single Market gives details of the types of documents available that could be used to prove the goods have been removed from the UK.

Unsatisfactory or suspect evidence of export relied on in good faith

The Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) judgment in Teleos PLC established that, in certain limited circumstances, a trader retains the right to zero rate a supply even if evidence he has relied on in good faith turns out to be unsatisfactory. Full details of the Teleos case, and how this impacts on evidence of removal to support zero rating, are given at VEXP70400.

Time limits for obtaining evidence

The supplier must ensure that they obtain and keep satisfactory evidence of removal of the goods from the UK within three months of the date of supply, or within six months for goods involved in processing or incorporation before removal.

When businesses are asked to provide evidence to support their zero rating supplies, it is important that we give the business a period of time to produce the evidence as it may be that some or all of the evidence is held off-premises and may take a while to locate. What is considered reasonable in this circumstance is explained in VEXP30500