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HMRC internal manual

VAT Single Market

Record keeping, reporting and accounting: VAT Information Exchange System (VIES): EC VAT number verification

A condition for zero-rating intra-EC supplies of goods is that the supplier holds a valid VAT registration number for their customer in another Member State. A valid VAT registration number in another Member State can also be taken as evidence that the recipient of a supply of services is in business for the purposes of applying the place of supply rules.

The validity of a customer’s VAT number can be confirmed via the European Commission’s online Europa website at

From January 2010 Europa will also provide name and address details for valid UK VRNs. Additionally, if the business making the VRN enquiry identifies itself by entering its own VRN, they will be able to print out a validation record of the date and time that the VRN enquiry was made and confirmed. If it later turns out that the customer’s VRN was invalid, e.g the tax authorities VRN database was not up to date, they will be able to rely on the validation record as one element to demonstrate their good faith as a compliant trader and, in the UK, to justify why they should not be held jointly and severally liable for any VAT fraud and revenue losses which occur.

All Member States share these arrangements and businesses in other Member States can verify a UK VAT registration number in the same way. Additionally UK businesses can verify or obtain a customer’s name and address by contacting the VAT Helpline