VAT on samples sent between the UK and France


The general rule when goods are moved between the UK and France is that they are treated as exports and imports that may be subject to local VAT in each country. This applies even if no charge is made for the goods, as the amount of VAT payable would be based on their value.

However, movements of goods that qualify as samples may be disregarded for VAT purposes. The conditions are:

  • No charge is made for the samples;
  • They are supplied for genuine business purposes as a sample of a product;
  • Only one example of each product can be supplied to any one person, unless the additional items are for quality assurance testing.

This exemption is also available for goods sent for testing, provided that the supplier remains the owner of the items, and they are either returned to the manufacturer or destroyed after use.

A manufacturer can similarly send samples to a retailer for giving away to the general public. These would be outside the scope of VAT if:

  • Neither the manufacturer nor the retailer charges for them;
  • They are supplied for genuine business purposes as a sample of a product;
  • The final customer only receives one sample of each product;
  • The samples remain the property of the manufacturer until they are given to the final customer;
  • Any samples not given away are returned to the manufacturer, or destroyed.
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