How VAT differs from US sales tax
There are many differences between VAT and US sales tax. But there are two in particular that all non-EU-based sellers who consider selling in the EU should know about.
1. VAT is payable upon import. When sending goods to a US fulfillment center, you don’t have to pay sales tax in the US. However, as soon as you ship inventory to Europe (for example to a fulfillment center when using Fulfillment by Amazon, or FBA), you must pay that country’s import VAT.
“For our business, the initial cash outlay for import VAT was a substantial amount,” Dan says. “However, we were confident that our sales velocity would be sufficient to minimize that loss in working capital between paying VAT at customs and final product sale.”
2. VAT is included in the sale price. Unlike in the US, where sales tax is added to the list price, VAT is included in the list price in the EU. Let’s say that you sell a product on Amazon.com for $100. To sell it for the equivalent price in the UK, you would list it on Amazon.co.uk for $120 (assuming 20% VAT). This is important to remember when analyzing competitive pricing on Amazon’s European marketplaces.
“Sellers sometimes assume that VAT is collected and paid to the tax authorities by the customer or online marketplace” says Melanie Shabangu of AVASK, one of the VAT service providers on Amazon’s Service Provider Network. “This means that when a VAT quarter is due, they have not collected and saved the VAT liability themselves and the payment has to be made purely out of profits. This can easily be avoided by marking up your products in such a way that VAT is included in the retail value, knowing the VAT rate you should be charging.”
Where to register for VAT
If you store inventory in Europe you are required to have a registered VAT where your goods are stored. Many selling partners start their EU journey by storing goods and registering for VAT in Germany and UK. Here’s why:
- Germany and the UK are Europe’s largest opportunities for ecommerce meaning that inventory within the country is important to reach more customers with faster shipping options. Check out Amazon Europe’s fulfillment options to find the one that works best for you!
- Mitigates the risk disruption with logistics due to Brexit.
- The information required for UK and Germany VAT are simpler than other European countries.
When the business grows and expands, further registrations for VAT might be needed.
Where to register for VAT
The time it takes to become VAT registered can vary. To avoid delays, start the process as soon as you register your EU seller account.