EC Sales List

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With effect from 1 January 2010 it is a requirement for any UK VAT-registered business supplying services to EU businesses (so where that supply is outside the scope of UK VAT), to complete an EC Sales List (ESL) for each calendar quarter and submit these within 14 days for paper returns and 21 days for electronic returns. ESL’s will not be required for:

  • Supplies which are exempt from VAT according to the rules in the customer’s EU Member State
  • B2B (Business to Business) supplies where the recipient is not VAT registered
  • B2C (Business to Consumers) supplies

The ESL reporting period for taxable supplies of services will be a calendar quarter, although businesses may instead choose a reporting period of a calendar month. The changes to the EU legislation require ESL’s to be submitted for strict calendar months/quarters and as a result the historic facility for submission of ESL’s, using non-standard accounting periods, has been withdrawn. The new provisions took effect from 1 January 2010.

It is not necessary to submit ‘nil’ ESL returns.

The date on which a transaction should be included on the ESL is dependant on the time of supply rules in the customer’s Member State. On the basis that other Member States rules are, similar to the UK’s, consistent with the adopted EU legislation, the time of supply will be either the date of payment or performance (completion), whichever is the earlier. For continuous supplies of services, the time of supply will be linked to the end of each billing or payment period, but where no invoice or other accounting document is issued or payment made during the year, the time of supply will be the end of each calendar year. These changes will determine not only when the customer has to account for VAT under the reverse charge when the service is received from a supplier in another Member State, but also when a supplier is required to include the transaction on an ESL.

If a business fails to submit an ESL by the due date it may be liable to a penalty of £5, £10 or £15 per day that it is late. Where a submitted ESL contains a material inaccuracy and the business fails to notify HMRC, that business may be liable to a penalty of £100.


6 January 2010


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About Throgmorton: Throgmorton is one of the leading companies specialising in the provision of financial and administrative outsourcing in the UK SME financial services sector.

The information in this notice is intended for general guidance only. Throgmorton does not accept any responsibility for losses incurred to any person acting or refraining to act as a result of the information in this notice. Advice should be taken in the context of specific circumstances.