VAT on goods sent from France to the UK for a service

The general rule when goods are moved between the UK and France, even if they are just internal transfers of own goods rather than arms-length sales or purchases, is that they are treated as exports and imports that are subject to local VAT in each country.

This can cause unnecessary complications when a UK business carries out a service on goods that have been sent from France to the UK to receive that service, before being returned to the owner in France. For example, some specialist machinery may need to be sent back to the manufacturer’s factory in the UK to be repaired, before being returned to France. Or, some work in progress may need to undergo a special process in the UK before it is returned to France as finished stock.

As a simplifying measure, the UK business does not need to account for VAT on either the import, the value of the service carried out or the subsequent export of such items if the following conditions are met:

  • The customer is registered for TVA in France, and supplies their valid TVA number;
  • The goods are returned to the customer in France once the service is complete;
  • The UK business keeps proof of export of the goods from the UK; and
  • The UK business records the movement of the goods in a temporary movements register.