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HMRC internal manual

VAT Single Market

HM Revenue & Customs
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Transfers of own goods: Exceptions: Temporary movements of goods between Member States


Under Article 4(f) and (g) of the VAT (Removal of Goods) Order 1992 (see VATSM4230) certain temporary movements of goods between Member States for business purposes are disregarded as transfers of own goods. This does not include goods that are to be offered for sale, or otherwise disposed of, in the Member State of destination.

Goods to be used to make a supply of services

Article 4(f) applies to goods that are transferred temporarily to another Member State for the purposes of making a supply of services there. So, subject to

  • the owner having a place of business in the Member state of dispatch
  • not having a place of business in the Member State in which the services are to be performed
  • having a specific contract to fulfil, and
  • an intention to return the goods to the Member State from which they were dispatched

the removal of the goods in question is not treated as a transfer of own goods.

This typically covers tools and equipment to be used to perform a service and situations where the goods themselves are to be the subject of the supply - for example where they are to be loaned, hired or leased.

Other temporary movements

Article 4(g) applies to goods which are transferred to another Member State for temporary use there provided

  • they would be eligible for temporary importation relief if imported from outside the EC; and
  • they are to remain in the Member State for no longer than 2 years, after which they are either to be exported out of the EC or removed to another Member State.

Details of goods which are eligible for temporary import relief can be found in Notice 200 (Temporary Importations).

Return or onward movement of the goods

The eventual return or onward movement of the goods, as required under Article 4(f)(iv) and 4(g)(ii) respectively, is similarly disregarded as a movement of own goods by Article 4(h).


Although the they are not treated as supplies for VAT purposes, the owner of the goods is required to maintain a register of temporary movements (see VATSM7430) and to hold commercial evidence covering their whereabouts.

Failure to return or remove the goods

Under article 5 of the Order, exclusion from treatment as a transfer of own goods is conditional on the intention to return or remove the goods, as the case may be, being fulfilled. If circumstances change (for example the goods are sold or are to remain permanently in the Member State to which they were dispatched) they will cease to qualify for treatment under these provisions. The original movement of the goods is treated belatedly as a transfer of own goods. Under regulation 42 of the VAT General Regulations 1995 (see VATSM4230) any VAT due is to be included on the VAT return for the period in which the ability, or intention, to comply with the relevant condition ceases.