By Tolley

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

  • Intermediaries
  • Introduction
  • What is a disclosed and undisclosed agent?
  • Disclosed agents ― supplies of goods
  • Disclosed agents ― supplies of services
  • Exceptions to the general rule
  • VAT registration requirements
  • Undisclosed agents (commissionaires)
  • Summary of the main rules


An intermediary is a third party that arranges or facilitates the making of supplies by other parties. The intermediary can act as a go-between for either the customer or the supplier. Intermediaries are often referred to as:

  • brokers
  • buying or selling agents
  • go-betweens
  • disclosed agents
  • agents acting in their own name (undisclosed agents or commissionaires)

HMRC Notice 741A ; VTAXPER37000

Intermediaries normally receive a commission for arranging the transaction between the supplier and the customer.

The place of supply of intermediary services follows the same place of supply rules as the underlying service that the intermediary is arranging.

Since January 2010 most intermediary services will be covered by the extended reverse charge provisions if they are supplied to a relevant business customer located in another EU member state (B2B transactions). However, there are exceptions to this rule, as explained below. Also, if the intermediary is acting on behalf of a private consumer or a non-business customer then the rules are more complex and these are also discussed below.

What is the underlying transaction?

In order to determine the correct VAT treatment the intermediary will need to determine whether the underlying supply is goods or services. The intermediary will need to ensure that, if the underlying supply is one of services, he fully understands the nature and scope of the services supplied as the VAT treatment will depend upon the exact nature of the services being supplied. The general rules for supplies of goods and services are outlined below but are covered in detail in various guidance notes which are linked to this document.

What is a disclosed and undisclosed agent?

More on Cross border supplies of services: