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DPO-3816.1 Processing in the VIES-on-the-web Internet Website of VAT Identification Numbers for intra-Community Transaction on Goods or Services

Directorate-General: DG Taxation and Customs Union

Controller: EDERY Caroline

Publication: 2016-01-07

Processing

1. Name of the processing

Processing in the VIES-on-the-web Internet Website of VAT Identification Numbers for intra-Community Transaction on Goods or Services

2. Description

For EU cross-border supplies of goods or services, Economic operators need to ensure that their business partner is correctly identified and registered for VAT purposes in its Member State. This information is crucial for the correct application of the VAT rules (decision whether or not VAT should be charged).

VIES-on-the-web is an internet website that allows Economic operators to enter a VAT number and VIES-on-the-web will connect to the database in the relevant MS and checks whether the VAT number is recorded there. If it is recorded, it will return the status “Yes, valid VAT number” and also provide the name and address linked to this VAT number. If the VAT number is not recorded, it will return the status “No, invalid VAT number”.

This information is necessary, but not sufficient for applying the correct VAT treatment. Economic operators should also use other usual commercial means to secure evidence supporting the VAT exemption of intra-community supplies of goods (article 138, paragraph 1 of Council Directive 2006/112/EC) or the non-application of VAT on a supply of services due to its localisation in another Member State.

Moreover, DG TAXUD closely monitors and analyses on a daily basis the usage of the Vies-on-the-web service to block abusive use of VIES-on-the-web. In circumstances where certain actions would be recognized as abusive use of the service, the originator of the request (specific IP addresses) will be blocked and notified by DG TAXUD.

Actions that are considered as abusive include (not exhaustive), for example:

1. Multiple validation of the same VAT number per day except for availability tests (please refer to Technical Information page for further details);

2. High traffic of invalid VAT numbers.

3. Sub-Contractors

Data are processed automatically by VIES-on-the-web. European Commission has no additional access to these data than the access to the public audience through the Internet website described above. All the data is stored in the national databases in all Member States; they are retrieved only for the purpose of the verification described above. The maintenance of the Internet website is ensured by IT unit of DG TAXUD with the support of a subcontractor, who is bound by a number of security measures including a declaration of confidentiality (see section 18 for details).

4. Automated / Manual operations

The data are processed automatically through VIES-on-the-web. Log files are generated automatically and analysed also manually to detect patterns of abuse.

5. Storage

VIES-on–the-web does not store any data. All the data are stored in national databases. VIES on the web is only a tool to query these databases.
The requests made to VIES-on-the-web are logged to monitor abusive use of the system.

6. Comments

None

Purpose & legal basis

7. Purposes

VIES-on-the-web is essential for the functioning of the common EU VAT system within the Internal Market. Without the possibility to verify the VAT number of their customer Economic operators would dispose of an essential tool for ensuring the correct application of VAT rules on intra-Community transactions of goods or services.

8. Legal basis / Lawfulness

Council Regulation (EU) No 904/2010 of 7 October 2010 on administrative cooperation and combating fraud in the field of value added tax: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:268:0001:0018:EN:PDF

Recital (16)

“Online confirmation of the validity of VAT identification numbers is a tool which is increasingly used by operators. The system for confirming the validity of VAT identification numbers should provide automated confirmation of the relevant information to operators.”

Article 31 – Providing information to taxable persons

"1. The competent authorities of each Member State shall ensure that persons involved in the intra-Community supply of goods or of services and non-established taxable persons supplying telecommunication services, broadcasting services and electronically supplied services, in particular those referred to in Annex II to Directive 2006/112/EC, are allowed to obtain, for the purposes of such transactions, confirmation by electronic means of the validity of the VAT identification number of any specified person as well as the associated name and address. This information shall correspond to the data referred to in Article 17.

2. Each Member State shall provide confirmation by electronic means of the name and address of the person to whom the VAT identification number has been issued in accordance with its national data protection rules."

Data subjects / fields

9. Data subjects

Economic operators from the European Union (with the exception of territories listed in article 6 of the VAT Directive 112/2006) selling goods or providing services to economic operators in other Member States. These subjects are selected based on their VAT registration by national tax administrations.Some Member States require an additional registration for such transactions where economic operators declare that they intend to perform cross-border transactions with economic operators in other Member States. Only then their VAT number could be checked through VES-on-the-web.

10. Data fields

VAT number, name and address.
The data are given by the data subjects when they register for VAT purposes.

Rights of D.S.

11. Information

See the attached Privacy Statement accessible to the data subjects.

12. Procedure to grant rights

The data subject has a right of access to the personal data relating to him or her that will be processed through VIES-on-the-web and, where appropriate, the right to rectify or erase of personal data in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 or the national laws implementing Directive 95/46/EC.
All requests for the exercise of the right of access, rectification, erasure or blocking shall be submitted to and processed by the competent tax administration department where the VAT registration was submitted.

13. Retention

Data are not stored by VIES-on-the-web but on Member State databases which apply a retention policy according to their data protection national legislation implementing Directive 95/46/EC.

14. Time limit

As regards the procedure to grant rights mentioned in section 12, the time allocated to satisfy with the requests of the data subjects is governed by national provisions on data protection in the Member States implementing Directive 95/46/EC. Requests addressed to the European Commission will be replied to within two working weeks according to the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour.

15. Historical purposes

VIES-on-the-web does not store any data for historical purposes.

Recipients

16. Recipients

The access to all personal data contained in data accessible through VIES-on-the-web is granted to the public.

17. Transfer

VIES-on-the-web is available to the public via the internet and no registration is required to access it.

Article 9(6) of Regulation (EC) 45/2001 provides that an EU institution or body may transfer personal data to third countries not subject to Directive 95/46/EC 'if the transfer is made from a register which, according to Community law, is intended to provide information to the public and which is open to consultation either by the public in general or by any person who can demonstrate a legitimate interest'.