Amazon UK calls for all sellers to provide VAT numbers by March 5th

Eagle-eyed Amazon merchants might have noticed an Amazon UK announcement in Seller Central on Thursday this week. It was a simple and short update but it’s rather significant: It reads:

Action required: your account may be interrupted
The UK Finance Bill 2018 is expected to become law in 2018. The Bill will require Amazon Marketplace to block non-UK sellers who store goods in the UK from selling through if the seller doesn’t not comply with its UK VAT registration requirements.

We recommend that you upload your UK VAT number in Seller Central before March 5th 2018 to ensure smooth functioning of your account. To learn more about VAT, please visit our VAT resources page. More details about the legislation can be found on the HMRC website.
– Amazon UK Seller Central update

It’s good to see that Amazon UK is being so clear and proactive, after all this time, about the need for sellers to provide valid VAT numbers to them. The UK government has passed several new laws to help HMRC get to grips with the problem of overseas sellers, very often from China, not paying their fair share of VAT when they are selling in the UK. We’ve written about this before.

This is a proactive and creditable step from Amazon. eBay announced some measures too last month, and said, with immediate effect, that they would automatically display your VAT number, if you have provided it, in all of your listings. Up until now sellers could manually choose whether to display their VAT number by specifying it in their Business Seller Information in their eBay Site Preferences. But now it’s compulsory.

Both eBay and Amazon are finding their way towards means of ensuring that companies outside of the EU are not dodging their VAT obligations. And the reason is obvious: if they don’t then HMRC could well get the companies to collect VAT from sellers on their behalf and they surely don’t want that responsibility.

British VAT compliant marketplace merchants have nothing to fear.

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Chinese speaking accountants may have just hit the jackpot...

Sam • 2nd March 2018 •

All sellers to enter a VAT number would ensure their site only had legitimate businesses and stop those who are evading tax as well.

Julia • 2nd March 2018 •

The problem is, like many people, I have a totally legitimate small business, but have not yet reached the VAT threshold.

Ian • 2nd March 2018 •

Same goes for me... I am a registered micro business with a small turnover and pay any tax when it is due. I don't need to register for VAT. Insisting on a VAT number will push out all small businesses like me.

Chris • 2nd March 2018 •

Why???, they will just register for VAT then pay a penitence every month.

Thomas Shearing • 2nd March 2018 •

surely this only applies to overseas sellers with FBA stock in the UK centres or similar - but does not stop the 1000's of sellers from overseas as long as they say they are overseas ? or have I missed something

chris • 2nd March 2018 •

the statement said "does not comply with its UK VAT registration requirements." From that i'm reading you can be under the amount without a vat number. It does not say you have to be vat registered, but says you need to comply with the tax law. It also states "block non-UK sellers " so uk sellers would not have a problem.

simon • 2nd March 2018 •

People please read the notice properly if uk registered business no need to be vat registered unless you hit the threshold of£83000 turnover. However this will change drastically in 2019/20 when vat threshold will comedown to maybe as low £24000 because of brexit

Paul • 2nd March 2018 •

@ Paul, do you also read tea leaves? Will I be handsome, will I be rich?

Alan Paterson • 3rd March 2018 •

"because of brexit" was not in the media coverage - that was your own little addition. But reducing the threshold is another hit for small business. Makes it even harder to be self employed at a time when automatisation, globalisation and AI have (and will) shed vast numbers of "regular" jobs.

Mark • 3rd March 2018 •

Amazing Paul that you know government policy before they've made it up themselves.

Patrick • 3rd March 2018 •

I searched for pauls figures and could not find them. All I found was that anything could happen from reducing it to increasing it. As vat registered we lose out so lowering it would help me as other would then increas their prices to make the same amount of profit which might help us. The best thing to make it fair would be to make it the same for everyone. either make everyone join or get rid of it altogether.

simon • 3rd March 2018 •

Most chinese will just ignore hmrc and start up as a new company and get the old one struck off. While some action is better than nothing, vat dodgers are now dominating amazon and ebay and there are now so many, its hard to believe anyone from the UK is still in business. The tax burden on UK sellers is pretty huge and saving it for just a couple years could increase buying power by 2 at least. Some chinese seller have been at it over 10.

ifellow • 3rd March 2018 •

Just be prepared for about 100 thousand sole traders appear called mr_jonny_uk12345, mr_jonny_uk12346, mr_jonny_uk12347 etc etc etc. All under the tax threshold by £100 ?

Karl Jacobs • 16th March 2018 •