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HMRC internal manual

VAT Single Market

Record keeping, reporting and accounting: EC Sales Lists (ESLs): Background

With the creation of the Single Market, border controls in the EC were relaxed which made it easier for businesses to operate in other Member States. To combat the increased risk of fraud, information on movements of goods and supplies of services between VAT registered businesses within the EC is collected via the submission of ESLs.

All those registered for VAT in the UK who make intra-EC supplies must (along with other VAT registered businesses throughout the EC) complete an ESL. This is a statement listing the aggregate value of supplies of goods and services made by the UK business to each VAT registered customer elsewhere in the EC. The information gathered from ESLs is stored on the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) (see VATSM7700). This data is used by tax authorities in each Member State to ensure that VAT has been correctly accounted for. In legislation ESLs are known as recapitulative statements.

An example of the UK ESL is reproduced in Notice 725 (The single market).