EC Sales List in Europe (ESL)

What is an EC Sales List in Europe (ESL)? What should be included in EC Sales List? How often do you submit an EC Sales List? Do you charge VAT on EC sales? What is the difference between Intrastat and EC sales list?

19 October, 2020

What is an EC Sales List in Europe (ESL)?

The EC Sales List or ESL return is an informative reporting obligation that must be submitted when a transfer goods or supply of services takes place from one EU country to another EU country, ie, when you perform Intra-Community Supplies.

In most countries, you only need to report your sales to other EU countries. But in some cases, you should also include your purchases from the EU. In these countries, the EC sales list return is also due when making Intra-Community Acquisitions of goods and services – for example, in Spain, Poland or Hungary. In such cases, we refer to EC Sales and Purchases List (ESPL).

You do not have to make a payment when submitting your EC Sales list (as you often do with your VAT return)

What should be included in EC Sales List?

The EC Sales list declaration shall include always the following information about each sale to another EU country:

  1. The customer’s name
  2. The customer’s EU VAT numbers
  3. Their country codes
  4. The value amount of the transactions reported

The VAT numbers of both supplier and customer of the transactions included must be registered in the VIES system (VAT Information Exchange System).

 How often do you submit an EC Sales List?

The EC Sales list can be submitted on an annual, quarterly, or monthly basis depending on the thresholds established by each country.

It is important that you calculate your thresholds correctly to avoid penalties for late submission of your ECSL return. The most common rule, as established in the VAT Directive, is that ECSL returns are file monthly unless the total amount of IC-supplies in the current or any of the previous 4 quarters does not exceed 50,000 €. However, the interpretation of this rule is different in each country, so we recommend checking with Marosa what is the right frequency of your ESL returns.

You can find information about the due date to submit your EC Sales Listing in this overview of due dates in Europe.

You can also find information about the frequency on which you should submit your EC Sales Listing (monthly or quarterly) in our country manuals.

Do you charge VAT on EC sales?

Normally, if your customer is registered in VIES you will not charge VAT on your Intra-Community Supply transaction, due to the Reverse Charge mechanism established via EU Directive. In these cases, VAT will be “paid” or reported by the person purchasing the goods or services – ie, the person performing an Intra-Community Acquisition.

It is important that your customer has an EU VAT number registered in VIES in order to be able to correctly apply this exemption.

Because you only report zero-rated intra-Community supplies in your EC Sales Listing (or ESL) return, you should not charge VAT on the EC Sales Listing.

What is the difference between Intrastat and EC sales list (ESL)?

Intrastat is a different reporting obligation which provides the EU authorities and governments further and more detailed information on the movements of goods within the European Union than the EC sales list, for statistical purposes.

Intrastat is a statistical return and EC Sales list is a tax return. Intrastat is sent to customs and statistical authorities whereas EC Sales is submitted in the portal of your usual tax returns. They both cover intra-Community transactions, but the scope of the information included is different in Intrastat and EC Sale Listings.

These are the main differences between Intrastat and EC sales list:

  • The information reported: Intrastat returns require more detailed and extensive ¡ information on the transactions to be reported than the EC sales list. The additional information required on Intrastat includes quantity, commodity code, Incoterm, way of transport and regions of departure and arrival.
  • Services: Intrastat does not include the supplies of services to other EU countries, while the EC sales list does.
  • Thresholds: Intrastat is due only when the applicable thresholds of exemption are exceeded; in the case of EC sales list, usually there is no exemption threshold for the supplies to other EU countries. This means that you have to submit an ECSL from the first IC-supply made in an EU country, irrespective of the value of such IC-supply. However, you do not have to submit an Intrastat return until you reach the relevant threshold in the relevant country.
  • Flows: the EC sales list is normally due only on the departures flow (although some exceptions apply in certain countries as explained above), while Intrastat has a relevant threshold applicable for both flows of arrivals and departures.
  • Frequency of filing: Intrastat is always submitted on a monthly basis, but the EC sales list can be submitted on a monthly, quarterly or even annual basis – depending on the thresholds and rules established by each country.


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