France is one of the biggest e-commerce markets in Europe. Not only Amazon sellers often decide to sell there as there are millions of potential customers, many warehouses and logistics centers and a solid economy. When reaching the annual delivery threshold or when storing in a country, VAT registrations and regular filings are due in a country. The advance VAT return in France is only one of the tax duties that come along when registering for VAT there. But one thing after another.
Antonia KlattLast Updated on 29 October 2020
When is an advance return for VAT in France necessary?
The first requirement for an advance VAT return to be done is being registered for VAT in France. However, you do not have to do this directly with your first sale from Germany to France for example. In order to keep the effort for dealers for one-time or few sales abroad low, so-called delivery thresholds must be observed in the EU. In France this delivery threshold is 35,000 EUR.
Example: If your turnover from sales from Germany to France is less than 35.000,- EUR per year, you can easily tax these sales according to German law. Only if you generate more than 35.000,- EUR with sales to France, you have to register for tax purposes in France and apply for a tax number.
If you are already registered for VAT in France, advance VAT returns are part of your “daily tax tasks” anyways.
The delivery threshold is irrelevant if you store your goods in France. In this case, a VAT identification number is required anways, regardless of your annual turnover and then advance VAT returns are again mandatory anways. Amazon sellers, for example, like to use the Amazon warehouses in France, e.g. when selling with Amazon Pan-EU, and then – surprise – VAT registrations and advance VAT returns are required!
VAT procedure depends on turnover
If your turnover with sales to France does not exceed 81.500,- EUR per year, you have the possibility to be exempted from VAT. This is comparable to the small business regulation in Germany. The reference value for this is the turnover from the previous year or the expected turnover for the current fiscal year. If you are exempted from paying VAT, you do not have to charge VAT and are not allowed to deduct input tax. Once you have decided on this rule, you are bound to this decision for two years.
If your turnover from commercial activities is between 81,500 EUR and 777,000 EUR per year, you can calculate the VAT using the simplified RSI procedure. The previous year’s turnover is used as the basis for this calculation and corresponding monthly or annual advance payments must be made. This procedure is the rule, but does not have to be applied. Instead, the real values can be transmitted directly.
More about the Advance VAT Return in Europe
How to apply for a VAT number in France?
If you are now subject to VAT in France, you must register this with the responsible tax office. The registration is free of charge. The following tax office is responsible for the corresponding allocation of VAT identification numbers to foreign businesses:
Service des Impôts des Entreprises (SIE)
10, rue du Centre TSA 20011
F – 93465 NOISY LE GRAND Cedex
Phone: 0033 1 57 33 85 00
Fax: 0033 1 57 33 84 04
Submit application for VAT registration
However, VAT registration is not quite as simple as that: although the form to be filled out is available in German and English, it must be filled out in French. Those who do not speak the language will understandably feel quickly overwhelmed here. The common legal forms are to be indicated under point 1 of the IMP form in French as follows:
- Ltd.: SARL
- Single Entrepreneurs: entreprise individuelle
- Cvili Law Partnerships: société de droit civil
Furthermore, the following documents must be enclosed with the application:
- for natural persons: copy of the identity card(s)
- for legal entities: Copy of the memorandum of association with translation of the essential points into French (legal form, partners, directors, share capital and object of the company)
- Copy of an excerpt from the commercial register or a corresponding certificate of registration
- Proof of a currently valid VAT identification number
- Proof of business activity in France (contracts, offers, invoices, etc.)
- if the application is submitted by an authorized representative, the original of a power of attorney (Désignation d’un mandataire) must be attached to the application
If the application is submitted completely and correctly, it usually takes between two and four weeks before a corresponding tax number is allocated. Those who cannot wait for it have the option of issuing provisional invoices. These must be marked accordingly: “Numéro TVA: immatriculation en cours”. Once you have received your tax number, however, you will have to send a new and correct invoice with the corresponding number to the respective customers in order to complete the sale for tax purposes.
Our Tax Letter Inbox is the solution for automating the communication with the (French) tax authorities. It processes, scans and translated all of your letters and extracts all relevant information such as charges, deadlines or payments. Simply check it in out software and always keep an eye on it.
Assignment of the VAT identification number
If the application was successful and accepted by the French tax authorities, you will now be assigned a VAT identification number. From now on, this number must appear on all your invoices where the French VAT is shown. You will also receive a SIRET number that will make your company clearly identifiable to the French tax authorities.
With the receipt of these two numbers you are now successfully registered for tax purposes in France and can start your trade or close the sales already made with new, correct invoices for tax purposes.
Submission of advance VAT returns
How often advance VAT returns must be submitted after the successful registration depends entirely on the case. As a rule, they must be submitted monthly or quarterly. Exceptions are made for so-called “seasonners”, who only occasionally appear in France for tax purposes and make sales or provide services.
VAT Registrations & Returns
You can find out how often you have to submit your advance registrations from the letter from the French tax office. They must be submitted by the 19th of the month following the month in which you registered. If you did not generate any turnover in France during your registration period, you are still obliged to submit a zero declaration. If you submit your VAT return too late or do not pay the tax on time, you will be fined and charged interest on late payments by the French tax authorities.
Submission of the VAT return
In France, the VAT return is submitted electronically. Payment transactions are also made purely electronically by means of a SEPA Direct Debit Mandate, provided your bank allows this. If you want to access your tax return online on your own, you must first register on www.impots.gouv.fr (“espace abonné”) and apply there for authorization for the procedure.
Once the approval is granted, theoretically other people like your tax advisor can be added to the procedure. The following information sheets, which can be obtained on the website, provide more detailed information on this:
- for the registration: Fiche EA2: Créer un espace abonné (mode expert)
- for the approval: Fiche SL2: Demander une adhésion aux services en ligne (mode expert)
- for adding additional people: Fiche SL6: Désigner un Administrateur Suppléant & Fiche SL7: Désigner des délégataires et consulter les délégations
Form 3310-CA 3 must be used for the submission of the VAT return. You will receive this form from the French tax office in good time before the deadline.
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At first glance, the effort involved in VAT registration and pre-registration in France may seem considerable, especially due to the fact that the French tax authorities require communication in their national language.
However, there are good aids for filling out the forms and the purely electronic processes make a sale to France much easier. Once you have dealt with the topic in detail, you can look forward to a large new target group of buyers with high purchasing power. Our tax experts in France are happy to assist you!