VAT REGISTRATION IN ESTONIA
When do you have to register for VAT?
It is mandatory for your company to apply for VAT registration with Estonian authorities before starting your activities. Financial penalties may apply if the application for registration is submitted late.
What documents do I need to provide when I register?
If your company wishes to register for VAT in Estonia, it is essential to contact the Estonian tax authorities. There is no need to contact the tax authorities in your country of establishment.
In particular, your company will need to submit the following documents:
- The VAT registration form(s) completed in the language of the country
- A copy of the articles of association
- An extract from the trade register
- A certificate of VAT liability
- Power of attorney (if using a fiscal agent)
- Proof of activity on the territory of the country concerned: a contract, an order form, etc.
The Estonian tax authorities may require some of these documents to be translated into Estonian.
How long does it take to get a VAT number?
If your file is complete, it generally takes one month to obtain the VAT number from the competent Estonian tax office.
Is a fiscal representative necessary?
Estonian VAT authorities may require non-European companies to appoint a fiscal representative. This is a local company that will represent you to the local VAT authorities. He is responsible for the respect of all your VAT obligations, including those of which he was not aware. For this reason, he may require a deposit (e.g. a bank guarantee) from you before accepting the representation assignment.
European companies are not obliged to appoint a tax representative. However, to facilitate their relations with the local tax authorities, they may appoint a proxyholder to carry out the tax formalities on their behalf. In this case, it is not necessary to issue a bank guarantee. The company remains solely responsible for paying its VAT debts.
VAT OBLIGATIONS IN ESTONIA
Is it necessary to keep VAT accounting ledgers?
Your company must keep ledgers sufficiently detailed to enable the application of VAT and its control by the Estonian tax authorities.
When do you have to file a VAT return?
Your company has to report its VAT position by filing periodical VAT returns on a monthly basis [standard tax period - art. 27 of the Estonian VAT Act].
The VAT return must be filed electronically before the 20th day of the month [20 of N+1] following the tax period [month] to which it relates.
The VAT expert's eye
Member States set the duration of the taxable period at one, two or three months. However, they may set different periods provided they do not exceed one year. The VAT return must be submitted within a period to be determined by the Member States. This deadline may not be more than two months after the end of each taxable period (Art. 250 of the VAT Directive).
Do I have to submit an annual return?
Your company is not required to file an annual recapitulative VAT return.
The VAT expert's eye
Member States may require the taxable person to file a return containing all the data referred to in Articles 250 and 251 and concerning all transactions carried out during the previous year. This return shall include all the information necessary for any adjustments. They authorize, and may require, the return to be made by electronic means under conditions which they determine (Art. 261 of the VAT Directive).
What is the deadline for paying Estonian VAT?
The company must pay the VAT due no later than the deadline for the VAT return to which it relates
Interim payments are not required.
The VAT expert's eye
Every taxable person who is liable for the tax must pay the net amount of VAT when filing the VAT return. Every taxable person who is liable for the tax must pay the net amount of VAT when submitting the VAT return. However, Member States may set a different deadline for the payment of this amount or collect instalments (Art. 206 of the VAT Directive).
When should the intra-EU statement be filed?
The recapitulative statement [ESL] must be drawn up for each calendar month and submitted to local VAT authorities by the 20th of the month following the reporting period [month].
Filing the statement on a quarterly basis is not possible.
The eye of the VAT expert
A recapitulative statement is drawn up for each calendar quarter within a period and according to procedures to be determined by the Member States. However, Member States may provide for recapitulative statements to be submitted on a monthly basis. Member States may allow, and may require, recapitulative statements to be submitted electronically under the conditions they determine (Art. 263 of the VAT Directive).
INVOICING RULES IN ESTONIA
Does the invoice have to include VAT? Reverse Charge?
As a supplier of goods or services, your company is normally obliged to issue an invoice with VAT to its customer. This is the general rule. However, there are many derogatory situations which transfer this obligation to pay tax to the customer himself. These situations are known as "reverse charge" situations.
The special reverse charge rules have been introduced in Estonia for foreign companies:
For supplies of goods:
Reverse charge mechanism is applicable to all domestic supplies of goods made by a business not established and not VAT registered in Estonia, provided that the customer is VAT registered in Estonia [regardless of whether or not he is established in Estonia].
For supplies of services:
Reverse charge mechanism is applicable to all domestic supplies of services made by a business not established and not VAT registered in Estonia, provided that the customer is VAT registered in Estonia [regardless of whether or not he is established in Estonia].
What are the mandatory mentions on an invoice?
The VAT Directive lays down the minimum information that you must include on your invoice. In some cases, countries may add additional compulsory information. Particular attention should be paid to the conversion rates when the currency used on the invoice is not that of the country in which the transaction takes place, and to the specific statements justifying the legal reason why VAT is not charged.
What VAT rate should be mentioned on an invoice?
Estonia has 2 different VAT rates :
- Standard rate : 20%
- Reduced rate : 9%
VAT REFUNDS IN ESTONIA
How can I recover VAT in Estonia?
There are several methods to obtain refunds of Estonian VAT. The practical formalities for reclaiming foreign VAT will differ depending on whether or not your company is established in Europe and/or is identified for VAT in Estonia:
- If your company has a VAT number in Estonia, it will have to submit a refund application in the form and within the timeframe required by local regulations. A VAT credit is in principle automatically carried forward to the next period, unless a tax refund has been applied for. A VAT credit is in principle granted within 60 calendar days from the date on which the VAT return was due. However, Estonian VAT authorities may in exceptional cases (e.g. in case of a tax audit) extend the term of a refund up to 120 calendar days.
- If your company is established in a European country and does not have a VAT number in Estonia, it will have to apply for a VAT refund electronically from its country of residence, in the form and within the time limits required by Directive 2008/9.
- If your company is established outside Europe and does not have a VAT number in Estonia, it may have to appoint a tax representative to submit its refund application in the form and within the time limits required by the 13th Directive.
Is Estonian VAT recoverable on all expenses?
VAT incurred on purchases, imports or intra-Community acquisitions of goods and services can be reclaimed by a foreign company provided that these expenses are for taxable activities and provided that the appropriate documentation is available.