Deliveries of Goods Within the European Union

In principle, purchases or sales from or to the other EU Member States, so-called intra-Community transfers, are not subject to restrictions.

Nevertheless, there is an area of highly sensitive goods in terms of transaction control policy, such as military equipment or certain dual-use goods, whose trade requires monitoring.

For this reason, both European law and Spanish foreign trade law provide restrictions in some areas on certain goods movements within the EU.

In the case of deliveries of goods from one Member State in the European Union (EU) to another Member State of the EU, a distinction must be made for the purposes of VAT assessment as to whether the delivery is made to a taxable trader or a private individual or an equivalent final consumer for VAT purposes.

As a result of globalization, abroad orders are no longer uncommon, even among crafts enterprises. Suppliers and manufacturing companies, in particular, should, therefore, be prepared for delivery abroad if they do not want to miss the opportunity.

Deliveries to entrepreneurs

Deliveries to entrepreneurs in other member states of the European Union (EU) – for which the customer’s in the other EU member state tax identification number (VAT number) is required – are generally exempt from value-added tax in the country of origin and are subject to this same tax in the country of destination at the recipient.

Deliveries to private individuals

Deliveries to private individuals, on the other hand, are to be treated for VAT purposes according to other rules. In this respect, companies in Spain generally have to invoice deliveries of goods to private individuals in other EU member states with Spanish value-added tax. However, the delivery threshold in the country of destination differs from country to country, and the entrepreneur must register for VAT and settle with the VAT of that country if the threshold for that territory is exceeded.

Special taxes

Alcohol, tobacco or energy products: a large number of everyday goods are subject to so-called excise duties within the EU.

Although the tax rates within the individual Member States vary to some extent, there are uniform rules on taxation, as excise duties are harmonized throughout Europe.

To ensure uniform taxation, rules must be observed in intra-Community trade for these excise goods.

Delivery to other EU member states

If you wish to avoid tax evasion within Spain, you must transport the goods under suspension of excise duty to the other Member State. Otherwise, it is possible to deliver the goods taxed and, if necessary, to claim relief from the tax already paid.

The country-of-destination principle applicable to commercial transactions applies to excise duties in the EU Member State to which the products are destined or to which the goods are transferred.

If you wish to transport excise goods commercially within the EU, you can supply them as follows:

  • taxed, i.e. from the so-called free movement within the tax area

Depending on which excise goods are involved in your delivery, you must observe certain regulations in advance of the transport to get the tax refund.

  • untaxed in the context of a tax suspension

If you wish to transport excise goods untaxed to another EU member state, this is generally possible under the tax suspension procedure. However, the tax suspension procedure is subject to strict regulations.

Purchased from the other EU Member States

If goods subject to excise duty are already taxed, the tax is again levied in Spain due to the destination country principle. It may be possible to have a tax refund in the country of dispatch. If the goods are to be received untaxed, they must be transported under the tax suspension procedure, and with the corresponding documentation accompanying the goods.


Issue of supplier’s declarations

Supplier Declarations contain statements about the origin of the goods that you deliver to a customer within the EU. Supplier’s declarations for export shipments to countries that do not belong to the EU are only possible in certain cases.

Movement of excise goods under suspension of excise duty

If you dispatch or purchase excise goods to or from the other Member States without being subject to excise duties, the duty suspension procedure applies. The EMCS procedure monitors transport electronically.

Movement of taxed excise goods

Since the country of destination principle applies to the commercial purchase of excise goods, this transport is also monitored and you have several obligations to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

To fill in customs and accompanying documents correctly is only the summit of the iceberg. A prerequisite for successful and legally secure deliveries abroad is to understand the relevant customs and foreign trade regulations, use them correctly for your export business and take them into account as early as the quotation stage. With the right recipe, companies can save time and money.

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