2 min article

Your VAT obligations in the UK & EU

If you sell goods in any EU country or in the UK, you may be required to register for Value Added Tax (VAT) and to collect VAT on your sales. If you are a non-UK or non-EU seller with goods in the UK or EU, or you sell goods into the UK or EU, eBay will account for VAT under certain circumstances.

Changes to VAT import regulations for the UK and EU in 2021

In 2021, a number of significant changes were made to the rules for collection of VAT on items imported into the UK and EU, as well as certain shipments within the EU and within the UK.

The changes took effect from 1 January 2021 in the UK, and from 1 July 2021 in the EU.

See what changed


VAT is a tax on consumer spending. When a VAT registered seller makes sales within the UK or EU, they are obliged to collect VAT based on the delivery country of their goods. This VAT must be passed on to the national tax authorities via VAT return filings.

In most countries it is possible to register for VAT online, and to complete your VAT returns through the local tax authority's website.

In practice, the following three situations will normally trigger mandatory VAT registration in the UK or the EU:

  1. Sales of goods which exceed a locally defined threshold.

    Note that thresholds vary from country to country and do not generally apply to overseas or non-established sellers. If a seller is selling goods domestically, they should check the threshold with their tax authorities or a local tax advisor.
  2. Sales of goods from a local warehouse, by a non-resident seller (forward deployed inventory).
  3. For the EU only, cross border sales in excess of specific distance sales thresholds. Distance selling thresholds are currently either EUR 35,000 or EUR 100,000 depending on the country to which goods are delivered.

Effective 1 July 2021, a single EU-wide distance selling VAT registration threshold of EUR 10,000 will apply and replace the country specific intra-EU distance selling thresholds. This means that if you make sales to non-VAT registered buyers in any EU countries, and the combined total of those sales exceeds EUR 10,000 (£8,818), you will need to collect VAT in all EU countries based on the delivery address. To do this you will either have to register for VAT in each of the EU countries where you make sales, or use the EU VAT One Stop Shop.

More information can be found at the following sites:

It is mandatory that you display your VAT identification number on the eBay site in connection with your listings. This can be done by updating your business seller information page.

Failure to meet VAT requirements

eBay takes VAT compliance seriously. If eBay determines or receives official information that you are not meeting your VAT obligations, or if you provide incorrect information which does not permit eBay to collect VAT correctly in cases where eBay is obliged to collect VAT, your account may be blocked from selling and your active listings removed. You will need to contact us before we can remove any selling restriction.

In order to prevent any impact on your sales through eBay, you should always ensure that your account is up to date, with details of your registered addresses, your VAT identification numbers, and any locations from which you ship your goods.

Changes to VAT import regulations for the UK and EU in 2021

In 2021, there were significant changes made to the rules for collection of VAT on items imported into the UK and EU, as well as certain shipments within the EU and within the UK. We've outlined below how these impact eBay sellers.

Please speak with a tax professional if you have any questions about your tax obligations.

Sales to buyers in the UK after 1 January 2021

Goods sold in the UK are subject to UK VAT. The standard UK VAT rate is 20%, but the rates of 5% and 0% may also apply to certain items.

Where goods are imported into the UK, import VAT and in certain cases customs duty will apply. The VAT rate due at import will be the same rate as would be applied if the goods were supplied within the UK.

More information about UK VAT on gov.uk

From 1 January 2021, the UK introduced legislation which shifts the responsibility for collecting VAT for online purchases from sellers to marketplaces such as eBay in certain circumstances.

The UK changes at a glance

  1. eBay is obliged to collect UK VAT on goods sold through eBay to UK customers in the following circumstances:
    • Goods imported into the UK, with a parcel value of up to £135. Note that there is no longer a VAT exemption for small consignments up to £15
    • Goods of any value sold by a non-UK seller and shipped from inventory stored in the UK. Sellers may still have UK VAT obligations and should consult their tax advisors for further information
    If an order fits either of these criteria, neither sellers nor carriers should collect VAT from UK buyers. eBay will collect the VAT from the buyer and remit it to HMRC.
  2. If a buyer requires a refund – cancellation, full refund, less than full refund, or partial refund – eBay will refund the VAT to the buyer in cases where eBay collected the VAT on the original transaction.
  3. eBay is obligated to collect UK VAT on the full value of the transaction including shipping costs, as the shipping costs are considered part of the total purchase. The VAT on the shipping charges apply at the same rate as the item(s) in the shipment.
  4. eBay will not collect UK VAT if:
    • Consignment values are above £135. In practice, the recipient pays import VAT to the shipping agent as part of clearing the package through customs
    • The buyer is UK VAT-registered and provides their valid UK VAT registration number. In these cases, eBay will not collect UK VAT and instead the responsibility to account for VAT will switch to the UK VAT-registered customer
    • Consignments of goods containing excise goods such as alcohol and tobacco are imported into the UK. More information: Importing excise goods to the UK from the EU
  5. Overview: When eBay is responsible for UK VAT
    Seller location Consignment value (excl shipping and VAT) Item location at the time of sale eBay to collect UK VAT on sales
    Inside UK Up to £135 Outside UK Yes**
    Inside UK Above £135 Outside UK No (but VAT and duties may be payable by the buyer directly to HMRC/the carrier)*
    Outside UK Up to £135 Outside UK Yes
    Outside UK Above £135 Outside UK No (but VAT and duties may be payable by the buyer directly to HMRC/the carrier)*
    Outside UK Any value Inside UK Yes***
    Inside UK Any value Inside UK No
    *Additional VAT and duties may be payable by the buyer on delivery. Sellers should check the availability of their duty-paid solutions to ensure seamless buyer experience with their carrier.
    **Buyers with a valid UK VAT registration number on file with eBay will need to self-account for VAT under the reverse charge. eBay will not collect VAT but will issue the buyer with a reverse charge invoice.
    ***eBay will not collect VAT on sales between a UK VAT registered seller and a UK VAT registered buyer, where the goods are in the UK.
  6. When selling through the Global Shipping Programme into the UK:
    • Where eBay is responsible for remitting VAT, the Global Shipping Programme will collect VAT from the buyer on behalf of eBay
    • Where the Global Shipping Programme is used, but eBay is not responsible for VAT, Pitney Bowes will clear goods into the UK on behalf of the buyer. Pitney Bowes will collect the import VAT and duty from the buyer based on the value of the goods and will remit the import VAT amount to HMRC on behalf of the buyer
  7. eBay VAT calculation methodology:
    • Sellers listing on eBay.co.uk and European eBay sites have the option to provide a gross price and separate VAT rate, so that eBay can determine the net price and correct amount of VAT to collect from consumers
    • eBay will use the values provided by you when listing your items (gross price and VAT rate) to determine the net price
    • eBay will then calculate the VAT payable by the buyer, based on the VAT rate of the item sold in the delivery country. eBay will apply VAT to any shipping charges at the same rate as the VAT applied on the item
    • eBay will remit the net amount to the seller, and the VAT amount to the appropriate tax authority
    • For non-EU/non-UK sellers, unless you have included UK or EU VAT in your pricing calculations, the VAT rate will usually be 0% and may be left blank
    • Margin sellers may also leave the VAT rate blank. As eBay cannot apply a margin scheme, VAT needs to be collected on the full value of the item sold. If you indicate a VAT rate, this may lead to a reduction in the net amount you receive
    • VAT-registered seller - As shipments between Great Britain and the EU are considered as export sales, in cases where eBay is not responsible for VAT, the prices will also be adjusted to show a net price to buyers. Buyers will still need to pay import VAT on delivery
    • Where eBay has no obligation to collect VAT, e.g. an EU (or Northern Ireland) based seller shipping goods from within the EU to an EU (or Northern Ireland) based buyer, eBay will not carry out any additional tax calculations and the selling price will remain the same as at listing. Sellers who are registered under the EU One Stop Shop scheme will need to account for VAT at the appropriate value on their sales
  8. How VAT appears to buyers:
    • All prices on eBay.co.uk will be displayed inclusive of UK VAT. UK buyers will see VAT-inclusive pricing when they view listings in search and on the listing page
    • Where eBay is responsible for collecting VAT on orders sent to a UK delivery address, this amount will also be shown separately on the invoices issued to buyers
  9. eBay seller tax-related responsibilities:
    • Sellers may be required to collect VAT in cases where eBay is not obliged to collect VAT, for example if the buyer is a VAT registered buyer. In these cases, eBay will provide you with the buyer's details so that VAT can be collected correctly
    • You are responsible for listing the item and item specifics accurately and ensuring that the item location is correct. You need to ensure that your account details, including name, registered address, legal entity name, VAT identification number(s) and the location goods are shipped from are accurate and up to date.

Sales to buyers in the EU

Goods sold in the EU are generally subject to VAT.

The VAT rates which apply differ by country and are based on the type of goods sold. More information about VAT rates at an EU level and the EU searchable database of VAT rates are available.

Where goods are imported into the EU, import VAT and in certain cases customs duty will apply. The VAT rate due at import will be the same rate as would be applied if the goods were supplied within the country of import.

More information about EU VAT rules

From 1 July 2021, the EU will implement legislation which shifts the responsibility for collecting VAT for online purchases from sellers to marketplaces such as eBay in certain circumstances.

The EU changes at a glance

From 1 July 2021, the EU will introduce significant changes to how VAT is collected on imports into the EU, supplies within the EU by non-EU sellers and cross border supplies by EU sellers.

  1. eBay is obliged to collect VAT on goods sold through eBay to EU customers in the following circumstances:
    • Goods imported into the EU, with a parcel value of up to EUR 150. For shipments into France, eBay collects VAT on all goods, regardless of parcel value. Note that there is no longer a VAT exemption for small consignments up to EUR 22
    • Goods of any value sold by a non-EU seller and shipped from inventory stored in the EU. Sellers may still have EU VAT obligations and should consult their tax advisors for further information
    If an order fits either of these criteria, neither sellers nor carriers should collect VAT from buyers in the EU. eBay will collect the VAT from the buyer based on the country of delivery and remit it to the responsible tax authorities.
  2. If a buyer requires a refund – cancellation, full refund, less than full refund, or partial refund – eBay will refund the VAT to the buyer in cases where eBay collected the VAT on the original transaction.
  3. eBay is obligated to collect VAT on the full value of the transaction including shipping costs, as the shipping costs are considered part of the total purchase. The VAT on the shipping charges apply at the same rate as the item(s) in the shipment.
  4. eBay will not collect VAT if:
    • Consignment values are above EUR 150 (except for deliveries to France, see table below). In practice, the recipient pays import VAT to the shipping agent as part of clearing the package through customs
    • The buyer is VAT-registered and provides their valid VAT registration number. In these cases, eBay will not collect VAT and instead the responsibility to account for VAT will switch to the VAT-registered customer
    • Consignments of goods containing excise goods such as alcohol and tobacco are imported into the EU
    • For imports where the buyer is EU VAT-registered and provides their valid EU VAT identification number. In these cases, eBay will not collect EU VAT and instead the respective Customs Authority/carrier will collect upon importation
  5. Overview: When eBay is responsible for EU VAT
    Seller location Consignment value Item location at the time of sale eBay will collect VAT
    Anywhere Up to EUR 150 Outside EU Yes*

    Seller to provide IOSS ID to carrier
    Anywhere Above EUR 150 (not shipped to France***) Outside EU No**
    Anywhere Above EUR 150 shipped to France*** Outside EU Yes**

    Seller to provide eBay's French VAT ID to carrier
    Outside EU Any value Inside EU Yes*
    Inside EU Any value Inside EU No
    *If a buyer has a valid VAT registration number on account, eBay will not collect VAT.
    **Additional VAT and duties may be payable by the buyer on delivery. Sellers should check the availability of their duty-paid solutions to ensure seamless buyer experience with their carrier.
    ***"France" includes Metropolitan France, Monaco and Corsica for the purposes of France import VAT
  6. When selling through the Global Shipping Program into the EU:
    • Where eBay is responsible for remitting VAT, the Global Shipping Program will collect VAT from the buyer on behalf of eBay
    • Where the Global Shipping Program is used, but eBay is not responsible for VAT, Pitney Bowes will clear goods into the EU on behalf of the buyer. Pitney Bowes will collect the import VAT and duty from the buyer based on the delivery country and the value of the goods and will remit the import charges to the responsible tax authorities on behalf of the buyer
  7. eBay VAT calculation methodology:
    • Sellers listing on eBay.co.uk and European eBay sites have the option to provide a gross price and separate VAT rate, so that eBay can determine the net price and correct amount of VAT to collect from consumers
    • eBay will use the values provided by you when listing your items (gross price and VAT rate) to determine the net price
    • eBay will then calculate the VAT payable by the buyer, based on the VAT rate of the item sold in the delivery country
    • eBay will apply VAT to any shipping charges at the same rate as the VAT applied on the item
    • eBay will remit the net amount to the seller, and the VAT amount to the appropriate tax authority
    • For non-EU/non-UK sellers, unless you have included UK or EU VAT in your pricing calculations, the VAT rate will usually be 0% and may be left blank
    • Margin sellers may also leave the VAT rate blank. As eBay cannot apply a margin scheme, VAT needs to be collected on the full value of the item sold. If you indicate a VAT rate, this may lead to a reduction in the net amount you receive
    • VAT-registered seller - As shipments between Great Britain and the EU are considered as export sales, in cases where eBay is not responsible for VAT, the prices will also be adjusted to show a net price to buyers. Buyers will still need to pay import VAT on delivery
    • Where eBay has no obligation to collect VAT, e.g. an EU (or Northern Ireland) based seller shipping goods from within the EU to an EU (or Northern Ireland) based buyer, eBay will not carry out any additional tax calculations and the selling price will remain the same as at listing. Sellers who are registered under the EU One Stop Shop scheme will need to account for VAT at the appropriate value on their sales
  8. How VAT appears to buyers:
    • All prices will be displayed inclusive of VAT based on the site country. Buyers will see VAT-inclusive pricing when they view listings in search and on the listing page
    • Where eBay is responsible for collecting VAT on orders sent to an EU delivery address, this amount will also be shown separately on the invoices issued to buyers
  9. eBay seller tax-related responsibilities:
    • Where eBay has collected VAT on imported goods up to EUR 150, eBay will provide sellers with eBay's IOSS number to use as part of the import information. Sellers should only use this number in connection with eBay transactions. Where eBay becomes aware of seller misuse of the eBay IOSS number, eBay will take necessary actions against the seller
    • Sellers should include eBay's IOSS as part of the export pre-notification documentation provided to carriers. If eBay's IOSS is not provided correctly, then buyers may be asked to pay VAT a second time
    • Sellers may be required to collect VAT in cases where eBay is not obliged to collect VAT, for example, if the buyer is a VAT registered buyer. In these cases, eBay will provide you with the buyer's details so that VAT can be collected correctly
    • You are responsible for listing the item and item specifics accurately, and ensuring that the item location is correct. You need to ensure that your account details, including name, registered address, legal entity name, VAT identification number(s) and the location goods are shipped from are accurate and up to date

The EU changes to distance selling rules

Effective 1 July 2021, the current distance selling VAT registration thresholds for intra-EU cross-border supplies will be abolished and will be replaced with the EU-wide threshold of EUR 10,000. If your intra-EU distance sales are above the threshold of EUR 10,000, you will have to charge VAT based on the delivery country either through:

  1. A direct VAT registration for each Member State you are selling to, or
  2. Using the One Stop Shop (OSS).

From 1 April 2021, you will be able to register for VAT in one Member State and declare and pay VAT due in other Member States using the One Stop Shop (OSS).

If your intra-EU sales remain below EUR 10,000, you can continue to declare and pay VAT to the EU countries in line with your existing VAT obligations.

If you are uncertain about how the new rules apply to your business, you should consult your tax advisor.

About invoices

Where eBay has collected VAT under the UK or EU rules:

  • eBay will issue the invoice to the buyers. Invoices will include the VAT amount collected by eBay. eBay will remit this VAT amount to the responsible tax authorities. Sellers should not issue separate VAT invoices in these cases. Sellers should also not adjust their prices after checkout
  • For sellers where eBay collects UK VAT on the transaction, eBay will issue the sellers with a transaction document showing details of the sales which can be used as evidence for their records that eBay has collected VAT
  • For sellers where eBay collects EU VAT on the transaction under OSS or IOSS rules, eBay will issue sellers with either a transaction document (imports) or a self-billing invoice (valid VAT registration number on file, with goods sold from within the EU) as appropriate
    This document will show details of the transaction for which eBay has taken on VAT responsibility, and can be used for the seller's own records as evidence that eBay has collected VAT
  • Sellers who are not using Seller Hub can download reports by simply navigating to: My eBay > My Account > Seller Account > Account Activity and scroll down to download the report
  • Sellers using Seller Hub can download a report of all orders by going to My eBay > Selling > and download the report of all orders
  • eBay will not issue invoices for French VAT collected on imports above EUR 150

About margin schemes

Business sellers are eligible to use the VAT margin schemes when they are selling the following products:

  • Second-hand goods
  • Works of art
  • Antiques
  • Collectors' items

However, under EU and UK rules, where eBay has VAT collection obligations, eBay cannot legally apply margin schemes for those products. Where eBay is obliged to collect VAT on these types of items, eBay will collect VAT on the full value at the appropriate rate to the items.

Helpful links

If you are an EU established seller and your business is trading over the legal thresholds defined by your home country or you sell more than EUR 10,000 in goods annually to buyers in different EU countries, you must ensure that you are registered for VAT. Your seller and VAT details must be updated in your eBay account.

Was this article helpful for you?

Related help topics