How to check the VAT number of a European service provider or customer?

The Value Added Tax is one of the main taxes of the states of the European Union. It is collected by companies which must ensure the proper processing of their transactions, particularly intra-Community transactions and the self-settlement mechanism for VAT. For this, European companies have a free VIES tool made available by the European Commission.

What is the link to the VAT number control tool?

The Commission of the European Union provides companies with a tool for checking VAT numbers: VIES an automated VAT information system (or in English: VAT Information Exchange System). This tool is free and freely accessible via the European Union website. It is essential in the context of invoice checks and in particular during transactions within the European Union, also called intra-Community transactions involving self-settlement (or "reverse charge" in English).

VIES, the VAT number validation tool!

Information to be completed:

To verify the validity of a Value Added Tax (VAT) number of a company established in a country of the European Union you must have:● Member State: The Member State of the European Union in which the company has a valid VAT number;● VAT number: The VAT number of the company that you must validate (without the two letters representing the country already entered in the first field.● Look at the image, in the second field, the country code is already filled.● You do not have to fill in the following two fields: Member State of the applicant and VAT number.

Checking a VAT number, the European Commission VIES tool

Information to be checked for VAT autorities:

By validating the duly completed form, you will obtain the following information concerning the entity:The result of the check:● When the VAT number is valid: "Yes, valid VAT number" or● When the VAT number is not valid: "VAT number not valid for cross-border transactions in the EU (see FAQ, questions 7, 11, 12, 13 and 20 for more information). holder of the VAT number can contact the competent authorities for a correction or clarification: link to the competent administrative authority ".You must also check the different fields:● Member State: information that you had entered● VAT number: information that you had entered● Date of receipt of the request: this check is valid on a given date● Name: The name of the registered entity. Check that the name indicated corresponds to that indicated on the documents checked● Address: The address indicated must correspond to that which you have on the controlled document and to that which the third party communicated to you● Identification number: a code is communicated when you fill in the fields in the second part of the form.
To document your check, it is important to keep proof of PDF or paper print type and of the various checks carried out.

What to do in case of an invalid VAT number after VIES check?

If the VAT number communicated on the document is invalid or the linked information is incorrect compared to that communicated, it is preferable to refuse the invoice or the document by asking the third party to carry out the necessary checks and modifications. It can also be an indication of fraud in some cases. It is therefore advisable to address your usual contact by means of known and controlled communication channels.It is also possible that the VAT registration procedures have just been undertaken by the third party. Under these conditions, it is possible but these updates are quickly carried out by the authorities of the countries of the European Union. It is preferable to directly report these inconsistencies to the third party and suspend transactions.It is preferable to carry out these checks a priori when signing contracts or purchase orders.