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When do I need a French VAT number?

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When do I need a French VAT number?

As a general rule, a foreign non-established business must register for VAT in France as soon as a taxable supply is made. The following are some usual examples of taxable transactions:

  • Domestic supply of goods not reverse charged: A supply of goods located in France to a French customer where the supply is not subject to reverse charge requires a VAT registration of the supplier.
  • Supply of services not reverse charged: Foreign non-established businesses supplying services on which French VAT is due must register for VAT. These services are rather exceptional, as the general B2B rule would apply.
  • Import: Importing goods into France requires a VAT number before importation.
  • Export: Exporting goods to a non-EU country requires a VAT number before the export is made.
  • Intra-Community acquisition: Acquiring goods from another Member State where all conditions for intra-Community movements are met requires the customer to register for VAT. 
  • Intra-Community supply: Supplying goods another Member State is also a taxable transaction that obliges the supplier to register for VAT. 
  • Distance sales above the threshold also require a VAT number. See French distance sales rules  for more information. 

A voluntary registration is not possible in France. This is, companies cannot register if they have not made a taxable transaction.

A backdated registration is possible. See below backdated registrations  and regularizations for more information.

There is no registration threshold for non-established companies in France. Any company without a PE that performs taxable transactions should register for VAT.