Taxation and Customs Union

Online electronic interfaces

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Online electronic interfaces

The global economy and new technologies have brought huge opportunities in trade, especially for electronic interfaces such as online marketplaces or platform. To keep the pace with new trends brought by e-commerce, the VAT rules are changing to create a simpler to use and fairer environment for VAT.

You can play your part in keeping cross-border trade flowing smoothly by preparing early for quick and easy registration for VAT in the EU to fulfil your VAT obligations in the EU.


What are electronic interfaces?

An electronic interface (EI) should be understood as a broad concept. An EI could include a website, portal, gateway, marketplace, platform, application program interface (API), etc.


New Obligations for Electronic Interfaces

Starting 1 July 2021, electronic interfaces such as online marketplaces/platforms will have new roles for VAT purposes in the EU:

  • They may become “deemed suppliers”;
  • They will have certain record keeping obligations.

When will you be a deemed supplier?

You are considered a deemed supplier if you facilitate:

  • Distance sales of goods imported to the EU with a value not exceeding EUR 150; and/or
  • Supplies of goods to customers in the EU, irrespective of their value, when the underlying supplier/seller is not established in the EU (both domestic supplies and distance sales within the EU are covered).

But help is at hand! To declare and pay the VAT due in other Member States, online marketplaces/platforms will be able to easily register in a special electronic portal called the One Stop Shop (OSS).

Both OSS and IOSS will be open for registration from 1 April 2021 and ready to use from 1 July 2021.


When will you not be a deemed supplier?

The electronic interface facilitating the sale will not become a deemed supplier, for the following transactions:

  • Goods in consignments whose value is exceeding EUR 150 imported into the EU, irrespective of where the actual supplier/seller is established;
  • Goods supplied to customers in the EU, irrespective of their value, in case the underlying supplier/seller is established in the EU.

The below figure can help you to understand when you will be considered a deemed supplier for VAT.


What does the “deemed supplier” mean in practice?

The result of the above-described deemed supplier model is that the electronic interface is treated for VAT purposes as if it is the actual supplier of the goods and will be liable to account for VAT on these sales. In other words, the electronic interface facilitating the sale is considered to have received and supplied the goods. This means that the sale from the supplier (the so-called underlying supplier) selling goods via an electronic interface to the final consumer is split into two supplies, as shown on the below figure.


Consequences of the deemed supplier model

For further information, please refer to the Explanatory notes and check out the Resource page.


Record-Keeping Obligations for Electronic Interfaces

Online marketplaces/platforms will need to keep records for the transactions they facilitate, irrespective if they become deemed suppliers or not. Such records should be kept for 10 years and made available electronically on request by Member State(s).

The below figure presents in a schematic way the reporting obligations of different electronic interfaces.

For further information and in particular regarding the information that needs to be kept, please refer to the Explanatory Notes.


Is your business affected by these changes?

If so, see our dedicated pages to learn more about what the OSS and IOSS tools are for, how they work, who is affected, how to register with them and what you need to do when you start using them.


Why change the rules?

The new rules will:

  • Ensure that VAT is paid where consumption of goods and services takes place;
  • Create a uniform and transparent VAT system for cross-border supplies of goods and services;
  • Re-establish fair competition between European and foreign e-commerce market players, as well as between e-commerce and traditional shops;
  • Offer businesses a simple and uniform system to declare and pay their VAT in the EU via the VAT One Stop Shop/Import One Stop Shop.

Need more information?

OSS factsheet for electronic interfaces

IOSS factsheet for electronic interfaces

Explanatory Notes

Check out the Resources page.