With 28 member states, the EU is one of the most important trading markets in the world, and there are four key freedoms of movement from which its traders benefit: goods, capital, services and people.
This means that shipments of most cargos between member states do not require special documentation for customs, although there are some exceptions, such as goods that have licensing controls or excise products, for example firearms, certain drugs and tobacco.
The difference between dispatching and exporting
When goods move to countries outside the EU they are exports, whereas if they move between EU members, they are dispatches. Similarly, there is the difference between the terms imports and arrivals.
So by way of example, a pallet delivery from the UK to Slovakia would be a dispatch to that country, while a delivery to Canada would be an export.
VAT in the EU
Dispatching to a VAT-registered business is free of VAT charge as long as you are dispatching goods within the EU; you show that business’s VAT registration number on your invoice; and you receive ‘evidence of removal’ to prove that the dispatched goods have left the UK. This documentation of the transaction must be kept for 6 years.
If, however, the purchaser is not registered for VAT you should charge VAT as you would normally.
Meanwhile, all EU traders must declare sales on VAT returns, with arrival and dispatch amounts that go beyond VAT exemption thresholds necessitating monthly Intrastat returns by VAT-registered businesses.
Community Transit (CT) declarations
CT declarations are required for the movement of goods which have been imported into the EU and have not had their duties paid or other import procedures completed (such goods are termed non-Community goods).
But those goods which either originate in the EU or have had their duties paid (i.e. Community goods) can be moved within and between EU member states without CT declaration.
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