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Exports to Europe - should accountants be advising

Exports of goods to Europe post Brexit - seems very complex - should we be advising

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Looking at some of the questions on here from accountrants with clients selling goods direct to consumers in Europe it seems very complicated and fraught with difficulties.

Is this an area we should be advising in as accountants or should we leave it to the shippers and couriers to make sure clients get the paperwork and other aspects right?

In particular the VAT issues seem tricky and although VAT is an accountants' area I wonder again if the shippers better placed to help exporters get things right?

I have some clients who do sell a bit to consumers in Europe (albeit not a great deal) and I am looking out for any advice that crops up on here for when I'm asked.

Replies (20)

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By Moonbeam
22nd Jan 2021 10:00

The freight forwarding companies are experts in this area. I told a client yesterday that she needs to talk to her business association about this, as I am never going to know enough about it. There are probably a good few articles on Google worth looking at.
I have enough issues to advise on without turning into an expert on exports!

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By tom123
22nd Jan 2021 10:04

It is a pain enough when you are 'in' a business that you understand, and selling to customers that you know. (or buying for that matter).

Fortunately I do not deal with perishable goods, but even so deliveries to / from are all being held up in ports.

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Maytuna
By DJKL
22nd Jan 2021 10:07

Here is your one stop shop from Accounting Web. (It really would be helpful if A Web pinned the link somewhere easy to find)

https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/content/brace-for-brexit

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Replying to DJKL:
Maddy Christopher
By Maddy Christopher
25th Jan 2021 13:53

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, DJKL. We're working on a solution for this now.

Thanks,
Maddy

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Replying to DJKL:
Maddy Christopher
By Maddy Christopher
27th Jan 2021 14:10

Here's what our team have put together: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/hub/brace-for-brexit

You can find it on the homepage.

Thanks for requesting this.

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Replying to Maddy Christopher:
Maytuna
By DJKL
27th Jan 2021 14:44

Thanks, given the number of questions people have on here that will be invaluable (not that it directly impacts us ) and will hopefully dispel a lot of current misunderstandings.

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By arthurallan
22nd Jan 2021 11:17

DJKL - thats really helpful.
Seems like in practical terms selling to the EU until July is going to be very difficult indeed but from July the the One Stop Shop should make it easier.
Does that pretty much sum it up?

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Replying to arthurallan:
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By paul.benny
22nd Jan 2021 11:33

I think OSS will make it difficult instead of very difficult.

Leaving the single market results in frictions - such as the need for veterinary inspections for animal products. OSS will not make these go away.

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Replying to arthurallan:
Maytuna
By DJKL
22nd Jan 2021 11:52

I am the wrong person to ask, I merely knew the articles existed and had skim read them, luckily for me property does not travel over borders. (Though I do still help my brother in law whose business as a Qualified Person in the pharma industry, with previously multiple EU based clients, is lying in tatters though he is carrying on, albeit much less work and greatly reduced profits, as he enjoys what he does)

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By LukeS
22nd Jan 2021 11:38

One of my clients who exported to Europe (small business) has already given up as it was far too complex. He was close to retiring anyway, but this definitely sped up his decision to retire.

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Jason Croke
By Jason Croke
22nd Jan 2021 12:29

Some Accounting practice have a VAT person, like me, but appreciate smaller firms (and even larger ones) can't always justify the cost of a specialist, so in that situation, you should always have a handful of people you can call upon.

I think the situation is more nuanced. Accountants are not customs/freight experts, but then freight agents aren't Accountants and it really requires some joined up thinking. the freight agent doesn't care about the buyer or the seller, just that the paperwork needs to be correct.

The Accountant may not be able to give detailed advice but there are plenty of articles on AccountingWeb, some written by me, covering the precise steps required to use Postponed VAT Accounting, how to register for CDS, how import/export works and I do this because I realise VAT is a specialism that not every Accountant has and if I can share some knowledge to help fellow number crunchers, then that's great because then we're all making money, with happy clients also making money.

If you leave this to the freight agents, your clients will struggle, freight agents don't give advice on VAT and import rules, anymore than Accounts give advice on import protocols. There is a role for the freight agent but from what I've seen so far, they are not advising they are waiting to be told by the customer and the customer doesn't know either.

So keep on visiting AccountingWeb, I've got some more articles coming shortly that revisits all of these aspects and then of course don't forget Domestic Reverse Charge for Construction is coming up in March so another plate to keep spinning!

T

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Caroline
By accountantccole
22nd Jan 2021 12:46

Even with our sister French co and some knowledge for French rules, I am caveating everything with "We are not experts in the VAT systems in 27 countries and you need to take local advice"

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Replying to accountantccole:
Jason Croke
By Jason Croke
22nd Jan 2021 13:50

Same here, I can't help clients with things like VAT registration in Germany or setting up a subsidiary in Austria, many EU member states requires a domestic based tax agent and beyond that, there are many little nuances and localisms that a local Accountant will know that an outsider never would when dealing with the tax office or paper forms.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
22nd Jan 2021 20:16

And you still have not answered the many questions asked on here regarding the requirement to register in other countries when providing services from the uk to an EU customer (sorry I should not hijack a post that way).
I assume that comes under the 'take advice in the other country ' category although Neils article was definite about not needing to register contradictory to other articles i have read

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Replying to NH:
Jason Croke
By Jason Croke
26th Jan 2021 18:38

Huh? I answer as many questions I can on here, to help Accountants and business owners. I have answered the matter of services to the EU on several occasions in Any Answers, perhaps you missed them.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
By Moonbeam
27th Jan 2021 07:29

Thank you Jason for your excellent articles. I've referred a desperate client to 2 of them, which are very pertinent to her. I couldn't find this sort of information anywhere else on the internet.

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Replying to Jason Croke:
blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
27th Jan 2021 17:24

Sorry Jason, I know you are doing a wonderful job, the one thing I keep getting contradictory advice on is B2C services. These are now outside of the scope of UK VAT.
However Neil was quite clear that there would also be no requirement for a supplier to register in the EU country where the services are deemed to take place, are we sure about that?

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By arthurallan
23rd Jan 2021 14:21

Having read more and more it seems the simplest approach for any online seller continuing to sell to the EU (selling routine products like fasion items etc) is to
Get a GB EORI number
Make sure you know your commodity codes
Provvide proof of origin
Re VAT Zero rate sales (for UK VAT return) to EU but invoice the EU customer with the full amount including UK VAT (to cover your costs of DDP - see next)
Sign up for DDP (Delivery and Duties Paid) with your shipper and accept the duty and tax charges will be invoiced back to you rather than to your customer so no inconvenience to your customer
Does that work or is it over simplified?

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By arthurallan
23rd Jan 2021 15:29

If the seller decides to opt for DDP (so the seller pays duty and VAT on behalf of the buyer via the shipping agent) does the seller have to register for VAT in the EU country he is selling to or does the shipper sort that out and the seller just re-imburses the shipper?
If that was possible I think that would be great.
However if the seller has to register for VAT in the EU country even with DDP then the easiest solution would seem to be for the seller to sell to the EU "DAP" and just reduce the selling price by 20% so the buyer is no worse off even if it is still a pain for the customer having to pay the courier or postman the VAT

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By soundadvice
23rd Jan 2021 17:54

I believe DHL and DPD are offering what they call a DTP (duties and taxes paid) service which might enable U.K. e-commerce sellers to carry on selling to the EU in a fairly smooth way - I don’t know if they are offering this to all customers or what the small print is but on the face of it, it looks like an option.

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