This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

VAT Single Market

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

Error correction

The ESL Compliance Team deals with ESL compliance issues and error correction. ESL errors are notified to businesses on computer generated form VAT 104. The form shows the error lines and the reasons for the errors. Spaces are provided on the form for correction of the relevant data. The VAT 104 is issued with a copy of the ESL7 Leaflet (Helpful Hints).

If a business identifies an error in their records they can complete form VAT 101B. The form can be downloaded from the HMRC Internet site at , by selecting the ‘forms’ link.


Businesses who fail to submit an ESL when one is due, or submit an ESL late, may be liable to a daily rate civil penalty. If they submit an ESL that contains a material inaccuracy and fail to tell us, they may be liable to a penalty of £100. Material inaccuracies fall into 3 main categories:

  • data missing from the EC Sales List
  • lines on the EC Sales List are factually incorrect
  • an invalid VAT number is used

Prior to receiving a penalty assessment, businesses must first have been issued with a penalty liability notice within the previous 12 months.

The penalty levels are

1st penalty £5 per day
2nd penalty £10 per day
3rd penalty £15 per day
Subsequent penalties £15 per day

Each penalty level runs for a maximum of 100 days.

The ESL Compliance Team has responsibility for issuing penalties.

Reasonable excuse

Businesses will not be liable for a penalty if they can satisfy HMRC that they have a reasonable excuse. Each case is considered individually based on its merits. However, genuine mistakes, honesty and acting in good faith are not accepted as reasonable excuses. Also, the law provides that a reasonable excuse does not arise as a result of reliance on another person.