VAT numbers

A VAT identification number or VAT number is an identifier for a taxpayer or company in the European Union who/that is liable for VAT. In some countries a VAT number may look similar to the company registration number, but a company registration number is not necessarily a VAT number. Only companies that are liable for VAT have a VAT number.

Therefore it is very important to check if a company is liable for VAT each time a commercial transaction occurs between companies in the European Union. If the selling company wrongfully grants a VAT exemption or charges the wrong VAT rate, this company can be held liable for this error and therefore be obliged to compensate itself the VAT that was not charged to the authorities including interests, an increase and fine.

Structure of a VAT number

The structure of VAT numbers differs per EU member state. In the following overview you find the correct format per EU member state. On top of the fixed structure of a VAT number there exists for each format an algorithmic verification, we do not disclose these algorithmics, but they can be used via our API to check the format of VAT numbers in an automated way and to perform an algorithmic verification.

If a correct VAT number is invalid

If after the validation it appears that a VAT number is invalid, you need to contact the client for a thorough verification of the number. If the number keeps on being invalid, the client must contact his tax authority to solve the possible problem or to correct the database of his EU member state. Also if you notice that the company data linked to your own VAT number are outdated or wrong, you need to contact your tax authority.

In some EU countries you must register separately for transactions with other EU countries. As a result, a valid VAT number may not be validated either because the trader concerned has not provided the number for transactions with other EU countries and may not have registered for it.

Overview of VAT numbers and EU member states

For corrections of the company data and possible validity of VAT numbers you can contact the national tax authorities via the links from the following overview.