When is a French VAT number required?
A foreign non-established business usually must register for VAT in France as soon as a taxable supply has been made. There are a number of situations which qualify for this including:
- Storing goods in a fulfilment centre or warehouse
- Intra-Community supply of goods to another Member State is a taxable transaction
- Intra-Community acquisition of goods from another Member State is a taxable transaction
- Supply of goods or services which are not subject to French reverse charge
- Exporting goods to a non-EU country requires a VAT number prior to exporting
There is no registration threshold for non-established companies in France. Any company without a permanent establishment which performs taxable transaction should register for VAT
Fiscal representative for non-EU businesses
When a business that does not reside within the European Union wishes to register for VAT purposes in France they must appoint a French fiscal representative. The fiscal representative is jointly and severally liable for the tax liabilities of the company. There are a number of countries who are an exception to the rule and do not need fiscal representation including the United Kingdom post-brexit. This is because France have signed a mutual assistance agreement for the purposes of combatting VAT fraud.
Countries not requiring fiscal rep in France
Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, Dominica, Ecuador, Grenada, the Cook Islands, Jamaica, Kenya, Kuwait, Nauru, Niue, North Macedonia, Pakistan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Turkey and Vanuatu
French VAT Groups
VAT groups in France are possible but they are not treated as a single taxable person and intra-group supplies are not disregarded although this may be changes in the future pending new Finance bills. Each individual entity has it’s own VAT obligations in France and are required to file individual VAT returns and invoice using their own specific VAT number. All VAT however can be consolidated into a single payment to the tax office allowing for less administrative work. In addition to each of the members VAT returns, the head of the group must file a monthly VAT return consolidating the VAT position for all of the other members by calculating the totals and confirm the VAT position of the group.
The following conditions muse be met to create a VAT group:
- The controlling company must hold at least 50% of each of the other group members
- All accounting periods for each group member must be the same along with the VAT regime
- An application is required by the head of the group once all members have given written consent
- Each group member files corporate tax returns electronically to the department for large businesses in France where turnover exceeds €400,000,000