EC Sales List (ESL)

By Tolley
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The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • EC Sales List (ESL)
  • When do you need to file an ESL?
  • How often do you need to file an ESL?
  • What methods can be used to file the ESL return?
  • How do I complete the ESL?
  • Do I submit an ESL if I have not made transactions in the period?
  • What are the filing deadlines for an ESL?
  • What happens if I fail to file a return or make inaccurate returns?
  • Practical points for businesses submitting ESLs

VAT registered business in the UK that supply goods and services to VAT registered customers in other EU member states may be required to complete an ESL showing details of each of the EU customers and the value (in sterling) of the supplies made to the customer during a certain period. There are also reporting requirements for businesses that move goods to EU countries under call-off stock arrangements.

This note should be read in conjunction with EU movements of goods ― reporting requirements guidance note which provides details of when an ESL is required and what value should be used for specific transactions.

For in depth commentary on the legislation, see De Voil Indirect Tax Service V5.271V5.272.

When do you need to file an ESL?

Businesses need to file ESLs where:

  • they make supplies of goods to a business registered for VAT to EU countries
  • they move their own goods to EU countries
  • they are intermediaries in triangular transactions between VAT-registered traders in other member states (see the Triangulation and other chain transactions guidance note)
  • they make supplies of services subject to the reverse charge in EU countries (see the Supplies of reverse charge services (general rule) guidance note)
  • they remove goods to EU countries under call-off stock arrangements (see the Call-off stock, consignment stock and transfers of own goods guidance note)

Notice 725 , para 17.3; SI 1995/2518, regs 22, 22B, SI 1995/2518, reg 22ZA [draft] 

The frequency of submissions can vary, as explored below.

How often do you need to file an ESL?

A business may be able to submit an ESL monthly, quarterly or annually depending the circumstances.

The table below summarise how often

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