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HMRC internal manual

VAT Single Market

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


An ESL is required to be submitted by any VAT registered business who

  • makes an intra-EC supply of goods and/or a supply of services to somebody registered for VAT in another Member State (including transfers of own goods (see VATSM4000)), or
  • is the intermediary (see VATSM5205) in a triangular transaction involving VAT registered businesses in other Member States.

Method of submission


Businesses with Internet access can complete their ESLs online using an on screen form. There is also an upload facility for large data (CSV or XML) files. Enrolment can be done via HMRC online, or via the Government gateway. The service uses user ID and password access and is free of charge. The service is user friendly and has front-end validation for identification of errors on screen. There is a facility to view past Internet submissions and users receive a time-stamped acknowledgement of data submitted. Businesses should be encouraged to enrol for this service.

Further information is provided on the HMRC website on selection of the EC Sales List option from the Online Services page.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

ESLs can also be submitted electronically via EDI. A number of e-services require transmission of data to the EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange For Commerce and Transport) system. Further information about this is on the HMRC website in the Electronic Data Capture Services section.

Form VAT 101

Paper forms are automatically issued to anybody who completes box 8 on their VAT return in respect of intra-EC supplies and related costs. A reply envelope is issued with the ESL. The form is issued centrally on, or around, the 20th day of the relevant month (e.g. for the quarter January to March the ESL is issued around 20th March). Forms are still issued to those inputting ESLs online. This acts as a reminder that the ESL is due. Where there is insufficient space on the ESL a continuation sheet is available as form VAT 101A. On receipt forms are scanned and input to VIES by Fujitsu in Netherton, Liverpool.

Businesses can download forms VAT 101 and VAT 101A from the HMRC web site, selecting the ‘Forms’ link. The forms can also be requested from the VAT Helpline.


From 1.1.10 the ESL reporting period for goods will be a calendar month where the value of supplies exceeds £70,000 (excluding VAT). However, if the total value of supplies of goods is below the threshold the businesses can continue to submit ESLs calendar quarterly. The threshold will be reduced on 1.1.12 to £35,000.

The ESL reporting period for taxable supplies of services will be a calendar quarter, except that businesses may instead choose a reporting period of a calendar month.

If businesses suppliey both goods and services, and they are above the quarterly reporting threshold for goods, they are obliged to submit monthly reports for goods, but may choose to submit quarterly reports for services.

They may either:

  • report only goods in month 1, report only goods in month 2, and report goods in month 3 and services for the whole quarter using indicator 3 to identify supplies of services


  • report both goods and services in each month using indicator 3 to identify supplies of services

The formats will be:

### Period ### Month format
1 January 2010 to 31 January 2010 MM/YY
1 February 2010 to 28 February 2010 MM/YY
1 March 2010 to 31 March 2010 MM/YY

and so on.

### Period ### Quarter format
1 January 2010 to 31 March 2010 MM/YY
1 April 2010 to 30 June 2010 MM/YY
1 July 2010 to 30 September 2010 MM/YY
1 October 2010 to 31 December 2010 M


From 1.1.10 the timeframes for submitting ESLs to HMRC are:

  • for paper ESLs, within 14 days of the end of the reporting period
  • for electronic submissions, within 21 days of the end of the reporting period.


The changes to the EU legislation require ESLs to be submitted for strict calendar months/quarters, and so the existing facility for the submission of ESLs using non-standard periods will be withdrawn from 1 January 2010.

HMRC will take a pragmatic approach in recognising both the impact on businesses that currently use this facility, and the short time frame imposed on ‘new’ businesses. Any businesses experiencing difficulty with implementing this change should contact the VAT Helpline.


There is no requirement to submit an ESL for any period in which no supplies of goods and/or services are made to customers in other Member States.


Businesses may apply to the VAT Helpline to submit separate ESLs for

  • individual branches within their business
  • individual companies within a group registration, or
  • self-accounting branches of a group member.

If accepted each branch or company will receive a separate 3 digit identifier.


ESLs may be submitted by an agent acting on behalf of the business, but the legal responsibility for completing the form accurately and on time remains with the business.