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Buying Goods and Services from Outside the UK

If you buy goods and services on behalf of the University from overseas suppliers, there are some special rules that you need to be aware of.

The rules differ for supplies received from EC and non-EC countries and will vary depending on whether the University has received a supply of goods or services.

VAT on Goods from outside the UK

Prior to Brexit (1 Jan 2021) there used to be a distinction in how VAT was applied between goods arriving from the EU (where a self-applied tax called Acquisition tax was used) and non-EU countries (where VAT was charged by HMRC upon importation).

This distinction has now been removed and for all goods arriving from outside the UK no UK VAT will be charged on the supplier invoice. Instead VAT charged by HMRC on importation will be paid in the first instance by the delivery (courier) company and then recharged on to the University.

More information on importation of goods can be found in the section titled Importing Goods from 1 Jan 2021.

VAT on services from outside the UK

Reverse Charge VAT

When the University receives services from a supplier in another EC member state or a non-EC country, reverse charge tax will apply.

Similarly, although no VAT or tax may be shown on the invoice from your supplier, in order to account for the reverse charge tax due, the University will self-charge the VAT due at the same rate applicable if the services were purchased in the UK.  (This will be carried out centrally by the finance department and you will see "reverse charge tax for period xxx" appear on you cost centre codes.)

From 1 January 2010, reverse charge tax will now apply to all business to business transactions received from overseas suppliers (with some exceptions).  For VAT purposes, the University is considered a "business" and must comply with these rules.If you would like further guidance, please email or contact Wendy MacFarlane on ext 2385.

Further Information

Changes in HMRC importation system – 2019 (PDF, 329 KB)
Brexit (PDF, 257 KB)