The EC Sales List (also known as ESL) returns will be updated in various EU countries as a result of the Quick Fixes tax reform. Those reports, more or less all EU sellers need to submit, are crucial for proper taxation and control in Europe. In this article we give insights about the ESL in general and about recent changes.
Maximilian GamplLast Updated on
What is an EC Sales List?
European online sellers who do business in the EU need to file various reports on a regular basis to support the VAT returns, most commonly known is the EC Sales List (ESL).
This document gives further insights on sales and especially on movements of goods and services from one EU country (and one VAT registered company) to another one.
This shall make sure the VAT returns are correct on the one hand and that all VAT is declared properly.
Note: Make sure the relevant VAT IDs are registered with the VIES System!
Why will the EC Sales List be changed?
As you know, the Quick Fixes 2020 (an EU-wide tax reform) were introduced with the beginning of this year. Part of the changes concerned call-off stock:
If a business is moving stock from one EU country to another one in order to place it in a consignment warehouse for the final client’s disposal, the business doesn’t have to get a VAT number in the country of arrival.
New is that the supplier who is moving the stock has to enter the client’s VAT number in the ESL return. Checking the validity of a VAT number (e.g. with the VIES service of the European Commission) becomes once again more important.
Due to this EU countries will need to update their ESL forms to allow a proper reporting of stock movements.
What does this mean for me?
The first changes concern the new forms you need to submit but these will be changed by the authorities and you will get the updated versions – so there is no real need for action here.
BUT make sure to check your VAT status and duties if the Quick Fixes do affect your business. There are many aspects and constant changes that will be introduced in the next few months and years and as all European countries seem to have set the deadlines for the implementation of certain rules themselves, the current status has to be checked for each country individually.
Slovakia and Belgium have already published their new ESL forms and other countries are very likely to follow this example soon.
As all forms, documents, duties and regulations can be quite confusion sometimes, here is our EC Sales List Guide (ESL) in which all terms, deadlines and more is explained.
What does the EC Sales List have to contain?
When it comes to administrative paperwork, it’s better to get it done sooner than later and filling in the ESL document is rather simple. Just make sure it contains the following pieces of information:
- Customer’s country code (2 letters)
- Customer’s VAT ID
- Details of the EU Customer
- Value of the goods/services (use national currency!)
- Indicator Column: Shortcode to specify order (goods, services, etc.)
For all your transactions with other EU businesses that have a valid VAT number, you will need to fill in the required information.
Who needs to submit an EC Sales List?
Basically, all sellers who are delivering goods or services to other EU businesses have to complete the EC Sales List and submit it to the respective authorities. That means that all intra-EC turnovers need to be reported.
As this report is all about goods movements, sellers can be affected who are not selling goods to other companies directly, but who are moving goods to their VAT-registered company branch in another country.
When suppliers in other EU countries take care of the shipping, e.g. Amazon with its warehousing and fulfilment network, this also has to be reported in the ESL.
Briefly speaking, an EC Sales List is required if:
- Goods are supplied to VAT-registered companies in other EU countries
- Credit notes for goods are provided to VAT-registered companies in other EU countries
- Services are supplied to a VAT-registered company which account for the VAT
- Goods are moved to own VAT-registered branches or subsidiaries in other EU countries.
How to submit the ECL?
There are two ways in which you can submit your report: either electronically or by post. Sending your EC Sales List electronically.
Either way, you get the template form directly from the tax authorities. Please note that there have been some adjustments in several countries lately, so “old” form might not be up-to-date anymore.
Either way, in most countries call-of-stock information can exclusively be filed electronically. If that should not be possible for some reason, please contact us or get directly in touch with the respective tax authorities.
Note: Providing the ECL online or via paper form also has an impact on the deadlines for submission. More about that later.
When should I send an EC Sales List?
The deadlines vary from country to country, as you will see in the next chapter. In the UK for example, the EC Sales List needs to be sent to the HMRC (the British tax authorities) and it needs to be provided at the end of each calendar quarter when sales have been made to a EU country during that calendar quarter.
If there were no services provided within that period of time, an EC Sales List is also not required. Following the rule above, the deadlines for the UK look like this:
|Quarter||Paper form (date of receipt)||Electronic form|
|1 January – 31 March||14 April||21 April|
|1 April – 30 June||14 July||21 July|
|1 July – 30 September||14 October||21 October|
|1 October – 31 December||14 January||21 January|
EC Sales List Deadlines for submission
The EC Sales List has a different name in almost every European country and as different as the names are, as different are the deadlines for submission. You can submit EC Sales List on a monthly or quarterly basis – usually monthly.
For the 7 countries with Amazon warehouses, those deadlines are:
|Country||Deadline for submission|
|Czech Republic||25th day of the following month|
|France||10th working day of the following month|
|Germany||25th day of the following month|
|Italy||25th day of the following month|
Submission online: 25th day of the
Submission by paper: 15th day of the following month
|Spain||20th day of the following month|
|United Kingdom||21st of the following month|
In some countries, e.g. in Italy, the Intrastat and the ESL/ESPL have to be submitted together. For the rest of EU member states, the following dates of submission have to be kept in mind.
|Country||Deadline for submission|
|Austria||Last working day of the following month|
|Belgium||20th day of the following month|
|Bulgaria||14th day of the following month|
|Croatia||20th day of the following month|
|Cyprus||15th day of the following month|
|Denmark||25th day of the following month|
|Estonia||20th day of the following month|
|Finland||20th day of the following month|
|Greece||26th day of the following month|
|Hungary||20th day of the following month|
|Ireland||19th day of the following month|
|Latvia||20th day of the following month|
|Lithuania||25th day of the following month|
|Luxembourg||25th day of the following month|
|Malta||15th day of the following month|
|Netherlands||Last working day of the following month; for non-established companies it’s the last working day of the second month|
|Portugal||20th day of the following month|
|Romania||25th day of the following month|
|Slovakia||25th day of the following month|
|Slovenia||20th day of the following month|
online: 25th day of the following month|
Submission by paper: 20th day of the following month
Note: If due dates fall on a weekend or public holiday, the date gets delayed to the next working day.
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Under certain conditions, businesses can submit simplified ECLs. This is the case when a business does not have many cross-border transactions in Europe and is mainly active within a specific country.
When providing this simplified version, the actual value of supplies to each customer doesn’t need to be entered and it only needs to be completed once a year.
Businesses need to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the simplified ESL. This includes certain limits for revenues and the annual turnover and has to be checked for each EU member state individually.
Let’s continue with the example of the UK, here the following criteria has to be kept in mind if you want to apply for a simplified ESL:
- supplies to other member states do not exceed a certain threshold limit, in the UK it is £11,000,
- no new means of transportation are used
- and if the total taxable turnover within a calendar year does exceed the respective VAT registration threshold plus £25,500, again this is for UK and varies from country to country.