Occasionally we are asked by customers to send their goods to a UK, or indeed EU, delivery address. From here the customer then intends to remove the goods from the EU and we are asked to refund the VAT. This is possible but we are required by law to provide clear evidence that the goods have been removed from the EU/UK. The requirements are very strict and we will not refund the VAT unless we are 100% confident that the evidence you provider fulfils these requirements. Our assessment of the evidence provided is final and we will not enter into a protracted conversation about the validity of any evidence provided.


Here is an extract from the HMRC VAT guidelines on suitable evidence of export for your information:



Evidence of removal

A combination of these documents must be used to provide clear evidence that a supply has taken place, and the goods have been removed from the UK:

  • the customer’s order (including customer’s name, VAT number and delivery address for the goods)
  • inter-company correspondence
  • copy sales invoice (including a description of the goods, an invoice number and customer’s EC VAT number etc)
  • advice note
  • packing list
  • commercial transport document(s) from the carrier responsible for removing the goods from the UK, for example an International Consignment Note (CMR) fully completed by the consignor, the haulier and signed by receiving consignee
  • details of insurance or freight charges
  • bank statements as evidence of payment
  • receipted copy of the consignment note as evidence of receipt of goods abroad
  • any other documents relevant to the removal of the goods in question which you would normally obtain in the course of your intra-EC business

Photocopy certificates of shipment or other transport documents are not normally acceptable as evidence of removal unless authenticated with an original stamp and dated by an authorised official of the issuing office.


What must be shown on documents used as proof of removal?

The text in this box has the force of law

The documents you use as proof of removal must clearly identify the following:

  • the supplier
  • the consignor (where different from the supplier)
  • the customer
  • the goods
  • an accurate value
  • the mode of transport and route of movement of the goods, and
  • the EC destination

Vague descriptions of goods, quantities or values are not acceptable. For instance, ‘various electrical goods’ must not be used when the correct description is ‘2000 mobile phones (Make ABC and Model Number XYZ2000)’. An accurate value, for example, £50,000 must be shown and not excluded or replaced by a lower or higher amount.

If the evidence is found to be unsatisfactory you as the supplier could become liable for the VAT due.



Evidence of removal of goods to the Republic of Ireland across the Irish Land Boundary

The evidence you obtain must clearly show that the goods have left the UK. The types of documentary evidence required are explained in paragraphs 5.1 and 5.2. See also paragraph 5.5 for advice when goods are collected by your customer. Depending on the circumstances of the removal, we recommend that you obtain the following types of evidence to meet the conditions for zero-rating:


If the goods are… then commercial evidence should include…
removed by road by an independent carrier a copy of the carrier’s invoice or consignment note, supported by evidence that the goods have been delivered to a destination in the Republic of Ireland (eg a receipted copy of the consignment note).
removed by rail the consignor’s copy of the consignment note signed by the railway official accepting the goods for delivery to your customer.
removed in your own transport a copy of the delivery note showing your customer’s name, address, EC VAT number and actual delivery address in the Republic of Ireland if different, and a signature of your customer, or their authorised representative, confirming receipt of the goods.
collected by your customer or their authorised representative a written order completed by your customer, which shows their name, address, EC VAT number, the name of the authorised representative collecting the goods, the address in the Republic of Ireland where the goods are to be delivered, the vehicle registration number of the transport used, and a signature of your customer, or their authorised representative, confirming receipt of the goods.


What if I deliver the goods to my customer in another EC Member State?


In addition to the examples of acceptable documents relating to the sale listed in paragraph 5.1, travel tickets can also be used to demonstrate that an intra-EC journey took place for the purpose of removing the goods from the UK.


What if my customer collects the goods or arranges for their collection and removal from the UK?


If your VAT registered EC customer is arranging removal of the goods from the UK it can be difficult for you as the supplier to obtain adequate proof of removal as the carrier is contracted to your EC customer. For this type of transaction the standard of evidence required to substantiate VAT zero-rating is high.


Before zero-rating the supply you must ascertain what evidence of removal of the goods from the UK will be provided. You should consider taking a deposit equivalent to the amount of VAT you would have to account for if you do not hold satisfactory evidence of the removal of the goods from the UK. The deposit can be refunded when you obtain evidence that proves the goods were removed within the appropriate time limits.


Evidence must show that the goods you supplied have left the UK. Copies of transport documents alone will not be sufficient. Information held must identify the date and route of the movement of goods and the mode of transport involved. It should include the following:


Item Description
1 Written order from your customer which shows their name, address and EC VAT number and the address where the goods are to be delivered.
2 Copy sales invoice showing customer’s name, EC VAT number, a description of the goods and an invoice number.
3 Date of departure of goods from your premises and from the UK.
4 Name and address of the haulier collecting the goods.
5 Registration number of the vehicle collecting the goods and the name and signature of the driver and, where the goods are to be taken out of the UK by a different haulier or vehicle, the name and address of that haulier, that vehicle registration number and a signature for the goods.
6 Route, for example, Channel Tunnel, port of exit.
7 Copy of travel tickets.
8 Name of ferry or shipping company and date of sailing or airway number and airport.
9 Trailer number (if applicable).
10 Full container number (if applicable).
11 Name and address for consolidation, groupage, or processing (if applicable).