Foreign companies that trade with non-enterprises in the EU may have a VATIN starting with "EU" instead of a country code.
‘EU’ VAT-registration numbers
There is in fact one possible scenario whereby the Council may legitimately incur VAT but where the supplier does not apparently have a valid VAT-registration number.
As electronic services, such as internet access, are liable to VAT where the customer is established, non-EU established businesses supplying such services must, in theory, register for VAT in each EU country they operate, charging VAT accordingly.
However, as a simplification measure, there is a special EU-wide scheme under which non-EU established businesses supplying electronic services to EU customers, eg US internet service providers, can register for VAT in a single country of their choosing and then charge VAT therefrom at the rate applicable in the customer’s country. Such suppliers receive a special VAT-registration number with an ‘EU’ prefix.
It is, therefore, possible for the Council to legitimately incur UK VAT in such circumstances where the supplier’s VAT-registration number does not meet the algorithm check providing it includes the ‘EU’ prefix; such VAT-registration numbers are, however, included on the VIES database.
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