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Tips for eCommerce VAT compliance

In eCommerce, seizing opportunities for business optimization is key to staying competitive. eCommerce fulfillment, an outsourced logistics approach, presents one such opportunity, offering streamlined operations and enhanced customer experiences. However, for companies venturing into this realm, understanding VAT compliance is paramount, especially when storing goods abroad.

Why stay compliant?

Ensuring compliance with international VAT regulations is essential when serving a global customer base. Non-compliance not only invites hefty fines and legal consequences but also jeopardizes your brand’s reputation.

Navigating the intricate landscape of international VAT regulations is complex, especially considering that many countries require foreign businesses to register for VAT upon reaching specific sales thresholds. Understanding these diverse compliance requirements becomes increasingly crucial as your eCommerce business expands globally.

By prioritizing compliance, you not only shield your business from potential penalties but also enhance your brand’s standing in the global market.

The difference between VAT and sales taxes


Value-Added Tax is prevalent in numerous global economies, albeit absent in the United States. Unlike Sales Taxes, VAT is applied at various stages of the supply chain, reflecting the value added at each step. Notably, VAT regulations may vary for B2C (Business-to-Consumer) and B2B (Business-to-Business) transactions. In B2C models, prices typically include VAT, while B2B transactions reveal prices sans VAT, with the tax calculated atop the base price. Moreover, businesses may leverage tax benefits to offset VAT liabilities, offering potential cost savings along the supply chain.

Sales Tax

In contrast, Sales Tax is assessed solely at the point of sale, directly impacting retail customers. Unlike VAT, Sales Tax is not distributed across the supply chain but is determined based on the applicable tax rate in the local jurisdiction. This tax is calculated and added to the final purchase price during checkout, ensuring compliance with regional tax regulations.

VAT compliance – step by step

Step 1: Local VAT registration 

Becoming a registered local VAT taxpayer is the initial step towards compliance. This process varies across EU member states, necessitating thorough understanding and adherence to national regulations.

Step 2: Obtaining the EU VAT number 

The EU VAT number is indispensable for entities engaged in intra-community transactions. This includes acquisitions, supplies, and cross-border services within the EU. Obtaining this number sets the stage for VAT compliance across borders.

Step 3: Registering for VAT in the country of storage 

Storing goods abroad mandates VAT registration in the respective country. Whether utilizing e-commerce fulfillment services or establishing a foreign warehouse, compliance hinges on proper registration and adherence to local VAT laws.

Pro tips from Prime

Multi-warehousing: A VAT-control option 

For businesses seeking VAT control and optimization, multi-warehousing emerges as a strategic choice. Distributing inventory across multiple locations enables VAT-efficient order fulfillment and facilitates VAT compliance tailored to diverse market landscapes. Speak to us at Prime Penguin – we know VAT-pro’s all over the world that are ready to assist!

Assistance in navigating the VAT landscape

Given the intricacies of VAT regulations and registration procedures, partnering with VAT compliance specialists like AVASK is a smart option. From registrations to VAT settlements and returns, expert guidance ensures adherence to regulations and minimizes compliance risks.


Embarking on eCommerce fulfillment holds immense promise for businesses, offering operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. However, VAT compliance is non-negotiable, particularly when storing goods abroad. By following the outlined steps, taking advantage of local expertise, and seeking expert assistance, businesses can navigate the VAT landscape with confidence, ensuring seamless cross-border operations and sustained growth.

Want to explore how Prime Penguin can help? Let’s have a quick chat!

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Max Ericsson

Technical Account Manager