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Who may be required to register as a VAT payer?

Obtaining an EU VAT certificate and VAT registration applies to businesses that:

  • conduct sales of goods from the territory of France to other member states of the European Union
  • conduct distance sales directly to consumers
  • import goods into the European Union through France
  • export goods from French territory outside the European Union
  • make purchases and sales of goods to other European Union member states (so-called intra-Community transactions: intra-community acquisition of goods and intra-community delivery of goods)
  • organize live events, exhibitions, conferences, etc. in France.

In order to register and obtain a French VAT number, foreign companies should submit an application to the French tax office within two weeks of starting operations in France, enclosing the following documents:

  • confirmation of VAT registration in the country of origin
  • contract or articles of association
  • copy of the national commercial register

If there is a delay in registration, a penalty of statutory interest on the amount of VAT due may be imposed.

VAT returns can be filed in France on a monthly or quarterly basis. However, companies starting out in the French market are required to file their returns on a monthly basis. Entities whose VAT liability does not exceed the EUR 4,000 threshold on an annual basis may apply for quarterly VAT returns. The VAT return must be filed by the 19th of the month following the end of the accounting period. At the same time, the liability to the French tax authority must be paid. In case of erroneous settlement, a penalty of 0.2% of the VAT liability may be imposed. Default in the payment of VAT due is subject to a penalty of a minimum of 5% and can reach 80% of the VAT to be paid.

Both input VAT and output VAT are included in the accounts. No deduction can be made for input tax on the purchase of business gifts worth less than EUR 60, food and lodging for employees, goods for resale. VAT on capital expenditures and advertising costs is also not deductible. If the input VAT is higher than the output VAT, you can apply for a refund of the overpaid amount.

Foreign entities doing business in France must also comply with local regulations on, among other things: invoicing and archiving receipts and records for 10 years.

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