Exporting goods ― agents and auctioneers

Produced by Tolley

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

  • Exporting goods ― agents and auctioneers
  • Auctioneers
  • Export agents
  • Agent’s obligations
  • Practical points

Exporting goods ― agents and auctioneers

This guidance note covers the VAT treatment of exports undertaken by agents and auctioneers. This note should be read in conjunction with the Exporting goods ― overview and Exporting goods ― evidence of export guidance notes.

See the Supply and consideration ― agents and principals guidance note for more information about agency in general.

See De Voil Indirect tax Service V4.301 for more information on exporting goods.


If a person is selling goods at an auction and those goods will be exported, the VAT treatment of the sale will depend upon whether the auctioneer will be acting in their own name (ie as an undisclosed agent) or as a disclosed agent, and whether the purchaser knows that they are buying the goods from a UK seller. The UK seller needs to know what the arrangements will be from a VAT perspective as this will determine whether VAT needs to be accounted for on the goods sold at the auction where they are subsequently exported to an overseas destination.

From a VAT perspective, one of the following treatments will apply:

Auctioneer acting in the name of the exporter (ie as a disclosed agent)If the business sells goods through an auctioneer and the auctioneer is not acting in their own name, and the auctioneer arranges to export the goods on behalf of the business, the business can zero rate the sale if they obtain a certificate of export from the auctioneer. The certificate must be received within three months of the auction date. The auctioneer must obtain valid evidence that the goods were exported.
Please see Notice 703, paras 12.2 and 12.3 for templates of forms that can be used as evidence of export by the auctioneer when they export goods on behalf of the seller and the seller is making the zero-rated export sale

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