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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

VAT exemption of intra-EU supplies : Belgian VAT authorities simplify the proof required.

On 1 July 2016, the Belgian VAT authorities published an important decision that should simplify the burden of proof requirements for the VAT exemption concerning intra-EU supplies.

In principle, the VAT exemption for intra-EU supplies requires the fulfillment of two conditions: (i) proving the customer’s VAT taxable status through a correct VAT-identification number; and (ii) sufficient evidence that the goods have been transported from Belgium to another EU member state. Under the current Belgian VAT law, such transportation can be proved by any of a number of the required documents (including: contracts, purchase orders, transport documents and payment documents). The VAT authorities have required a set of documents proving the transportation, without any one document being more decisive or important than any other.

In practice, the proof of transportation is an issue when the customer is responsible for transporting the goods (incoterm EXW). In combination with the VAT authorities’ strict approach, a 100% acceptable proof of transportation in such a situation has nearly always been impossible.

Therefore, it was decided to simplify the current practice. The VAT authorities have now introduced a new “destination document” as an alternative piece of evidence proving the transportation. This document is issued by the supplier and must be confirmed by the customer. This document should provide a rebuttable presumption of transportation outside Belgium but only in combination with: (i) a compliant sales invoice, proof of payment and copy of the transportation invoice if the supplier is responsible for the transportation; (ii) all the supplies are included in the EU sales listing; and (iii) the supplier must undertake to do all that is reasonably necessary to avoid these supplies being linked with VAT fraud. Even if all these conditions are fullfilled, the tax authorities still reserve the right to ask for additional documentation.

This document is comparable to Germany’s Gelangensbestätigung or the “Vervoersverklaring” in the Netherlands, but there are some differences. Importantly, this document is not compulsory; it is only an optional alternative for proving the nature of the transportation.

This new destination document should be welcomed as it reduces, in our view, issues concerning the burden of proof for intra-EU supplies and so should increase legal certainty for companies.

Source: Decision E.T.129.460 of 1 July 2016

For more information about this topic, please contact our VAT team:
Stijn Vastmans - Partner (
Stein De Maeijer - Associate (
Gert Vranckx - Associate (
Loulou Geboers - Associate (

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