3 min article

Your VAT obligations in the UK & EU

If your business on eBay sells goods in any EU country, you may be required to register for and collect Value Added Tax (VAT).

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

In 2021, there will be significant changes to the collection of VAT on items imported into the UK and EU, as well as certain shipments within the EU.

Changes take effect from 1 January 2021 in the UK, and from 1 July 2021 in the EU.

See what's changing


VAT in the EU is a tax on consumer spending. It is collected by VAT-registered traders on their sales within the EU territory, and passed on to the national tax authorities via VAT return filings. Most EU countries allow you to register for VAT online, through the local tax authority's website.

In practice, the following three situations will normally trigger mandatory VAT registration:

  1. If you are an EU established seller and your business is trading over the legal thresholds defined by your home country you must ensure that you are registered for VAT. The thresholds vary between EU countries and are currently anything from 0 EUR in Spain to 85,000 GBP in UK. In practice, this means that you must register for VAT immediately if you are a Spanish business (no minimum threshold), whereas you are required to register for VAT as an UK seller only after you have made over 85,000 GBP sales within 12 consecutive months.
  2. If you are selling goods that are warehoused/pre-deployed in any other country than your home country, then you must register for VAT immediately in the EU country where your goods are located. There is no minimal threshold and this rule also applies for sellers from outside of the EU with inventory pre-deployed in the EU.
  3. If you sell a lot of goods located in one EU country to private buyers in another EU country (distance selling), you may also be required to register for and collect VAT in the country of your buyer if you exceed specific thresholds for that country. These range from 26,135 EUR for distance sales to Romania to 100,000 EUR for Germany. Note that in July 2021, the EU distance selling rules will align and businesses selling more than EUR 10,000 EUR cross border will need to collect VAT based on the delivery country.

Read more about VAT thresholds in individual EU countries - opens in new window or tab.

It is mandatory that you display your VAT number on the eBay site in connection with your listings. This can be done by updating your business seller information page. This is also explained in our Seller Centre - opens in new window or tab.

Failure to meet your VAT obligations is a serious criminal offence. If you do not appear to be meeting your VAT obligations on EU sites, your account may be blocked from selling and your active listings removed. You will need to update your account with a valid VAT number and contact us before we can remove any selling restriction.

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

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

While eBay is preparing for these changes, if you sell internationally to buyers in the UK or EU, you should also assess the impact on your business and prepare for the changes.

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

Changes to VAT treatment of imports into the UK

The UK VAT rate is 20%.

From 1 January 2021, the UK will introduce a new model for collecting VAT on imports.

The changes at a glance

  • eBay will collect and remit VAT on orders up to a value of £135 imported into the UK and sold to consumers. There will no longer be a VAT exemption for small consignments up to £15.
  • In cases where the seller is a non-UK business and the goods are already in the UK, eBay will collect and remit VAT for goods sold to consumers within the UK, regardless of their value.
  • If the buyer is a UK VAT-registered business and provides their valid UK VAT registration number, eBay will not collect UK VAT and instead the responsibility to account for VAT will switch to the UK VAT-registered business customer.
  • All sellers listing on eBay.co.uk have the option to provide a gross price and separate VAT rate, so that eBay can determine the correct amount of VAT to collect from consumers. For non-EU/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.
  • All prices on eBay.co.uk will be displayed inclusive of UK VAT.
  • Where eBay is responsible for collecting VAT on orders sent to a UK delivery address, this amount will also be shown separately at checkout.

Changes to EU VAT for cross-border e-commerce

There are different VAT rates applied in different EU countries. Check details on the European Commission official site - opens in new window or tab.

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.

The changes at a glance

  • eBay will collect and remit VAT on orders up to a value of €150 imported into the EU and sold to consumers. There will no longer be a VAT exemption for small consignments up to €22.
  • For goods where the seller is a non-EU business but the goods are already within the EU, eBay will collect and remit VAT on sales to consumers within EU countries, and from one EU country to another.
  • All sellers listing on European eBay sites have the option to provide a gross price and separate VAT rate, so that eBay can determine the correct amount of VAT to collect from consumers. For non-EU/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.
  • The current distance selling thresholds for intra-EU cross-border supplies will be abolished. EU sellers with an annual turnover of more than €10,000 for their complete intra-EU cross-border supplies will have to charge the VAT of the EU country of delivery.

If you are an EU established seller and your business is trading over the legal thresholds defined by your home country, you must ensure that you are registered for VAT.

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