UK VAT registration requirements
If an overseas online retailer sells goods which are already located in the UK at the time the goods are sold then they must register for VAT in the UK and pay UK VAT to HMRC.
HMRC have informed online marketplace providers running shopping websites for their online sellers that they could be held jointly and severally liable for the online sellers’ VAT if the seller amongst other things:
• does not register for UK VAT, or
• inaccurately completes VAT returns for sales in the UK, or
• does not pay their full liability to HMRC
As a result, online marketplace providers such as Amazon and eBay have been contacting their overseas online sellers to inform them that HMRC will require them to remove overseas sellers from the online marketplace if the seller does not comply with the UK VAT rules.
This requirement does not apply to overseas businesses which send their goods directly to the customer from abroad.
If you are the UK VAT representative of an overseas seller failing to meet their UK VAT requirements, HMRC can hold you jointly and severally liable for the VAT they owe from the date you become their representative.
Don’t forget that the VAT registration threshold in the UK for overseas sellers is nil.
For more information on this topic see gov.uk/guidance