Knowledge Base: E-commerce Accounting and VAT Compliance

VAT Registration in Spain - key steps and information for the e-commerce sector

VAT registration in Spain for the e-commerce sector – key steps and information

Date19 Mar 2024

The expansion of e-commerce opens up global markets for entrepreneurs, facilitating the expansion into new territories and reaching a wide range of customers. However, one of the key aspects of expanding business is understanding and adhering to local tax regulations. In the context of this dynamic e-commerce environment, Spain represents an attractive market, and VAT registration for e-commerce entrepreneurs in this country becomes a crucial step towards achieving success on the Iberian Peninsula.

VAT in Spain – obligation to register for VAT

For e-commerce entrepreneurs with their company headquarters located outside of Spain but within the European Union, there is an opportunity to apply for a Spanish VAT number without the need to establish a company in the country. This provides the chance to enjoy virtually identical privileges to those of local businesses operating within Spain. Online sellers have complete freedom to engage in taxable transactions, encompassing both sales and purchases in the local market. Furthermore, they can take advantage of storing their goods in Spanish warehouses and conducting the import and export of goods beyond the borders of the European Union. This flexibility opens up new business prospects and facilitates efficient operations in the dynamic e-commerce market in Spain.

VAT registration – the most important information

It is crucial for entrepreneurs, especially those in the e-commerce industry, to register for VAT before commencing operations in Spain. To achieve this, it is necessary to submit registration documents at one of the branches of the Administración de la Agencia Estatál de Administración Tributaria (AEAT). This crucial step enables a seamless integration into the local market, providing access to taxable transactions and the benefits offered by the Spanish tax system. Registering VAT in advance is essential for a smooth entry into the Spanish market and ensures compliance with local tax regulations.

VAT registration process for e-commerce entrepreneurs effective in 2024

In accordance with regulations effective from July 1, 2021, in Spain, as in other European Union countries, the distance selling threshold is set at 10,000 euros. This threshold is uniform, meaning that the total value of goods and services sold is not calculated separately for each EU country but is the sum of all distance sales from all European Union countries.

Obligation to register for VAT ES
Situations in which entrepreneurs are obliged to register for VAT in Spain include, among others:

  • import of goods into Spain (even if immediate onward delivery to another European Union country occurs),
  • purchase and sale of goods in Spain (if the supplier and clients are not Spanish companies with VAT registration – reverse charge applies),
  • sale of goods to Spanish consumers through online channels (subject to the Spanish distance VAT registration threshold),
  • warehousing of goods in a warehouse in Spain,
  • collection of entrance fees for events or exhibitions in Spain,
  • crossing Intrastat thresholds.

Collection of necessary documents by e-commerce entrepreneurs
Before commencing the registration process, e-commerce entrepreneurs should gather all necessary documents, including:

  • company identification number,
  • copy of the founding deed or company agreement,
  • an apostilled, notary-certified, and previously authenticated copy of the personal identification document,
  • confirmation of registration for EU VAT and entry into the business registry.

Completing the registration form for VAT in Spain
The Spanish Tax Agency (Agencia Tributaria) facilitates online completion of the registration form.

Submission of Additional Documents for VAT Registration Process
Upon submitting the application, there is a possibility that the Spanish Tax Agency may request additional documents to confirm the information provided in the form.

Obtaining a NIF-IVA tax identification number
Upon a positive review of the e-commerce entrepreneur’s application, they will receive the Tax Identification Number (NIF-IVA), essential for the proper handling of VAT tax obligations in Spain.

Spanish VAT number for online sellers: NIF-IVA

The Spanish VAT number, also known as the Número de Identificación Fiscal de IVA (NIF-IVA), is a crucial element for e-commerce entrepreneurs operating within Spain. It consists of a total of 11 characters, including the prefix ES and 9 digits. It is worth noting that the first and last digits may also be letters.

Based on the experience of e-commerce entrepreneurs, obtaining a VAT number in Spain typically takes two to three months. However, during periods of high demand or holiday seasons, this process may extend to four to five months. Therefore, initiating the registration procedure well in advance is particularly crucial.

Furthermore, it is important to be aware that although territories such as Andorra, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, and the Balearic Islands fall under the jurisdiction of Spain, they are subject to slightly different tax regulations. This can further complicate matters related to the export and import of goods to and from these regions. Therefore, e-commerce entrepreneurs should thoroughly understand these differences and tailor their tax practices to the specific requirements of each area.

Reporting period for e-commerce entrepreneurs in Spain

After obtaining the Spanish VAT Number (NIF-IVA), e-commerce entrepreneurs must adhere to specific reporting periods to effectively manage their tax obligations in Spain.

VAT declarations can be filed on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Monthly VAT declarations are required if the previous year’s goods sales exceeded 6 million euros. If sales were less than 6 million euros, quarterly declarations must be submitted. Annual declarations, on the other hand, are mandatory for all companies registered for VAT in Spain.

It is important to note that the initial settlement may involve submitting declarations for a shorter or longer period, depending on the commencement of business operations.

Declarations must be filed by the 30th day of the month following the reporting period. For instance, the declaration for the first quarter must be submitted by April 30. It is crucial to recognize that the same deadline applies for the payment of VAT.

Additionally, any taxpayer involved in intra-Community movements of goods between Spain and another European Union country or engaged in intra-Community acquisitions or supplies of goods must submit a Union declaration, equivalent to the Polish VAT-UE.

However, responsibilities don’t end there. After the fiscal year concludes, all e-commerce entrepreneurs registered for VAT in Spain must submit annual declarations summarizing the year by January 31 of the following year. This declaration provides a comprehensive overview of the entire tax year.

Operators of online stores should regularly review their VAT declarations to ensure alignment with actual transactions. In case of errors or the need for corrections, it is possible to file an amended declaration.

Neglecting VAT declaration deadlines may result in financial penalties. Therefore, online sellers should exercise particular vigilance and track deadlines to avoid unpleasant legal and financial consequences.

VAT payment methods in Spain

In Spain, payment of VAT requires payment from a bank account in that country. A common solution is to use a tax attorney in Spain who can make the payment to the tax office on behalf of the payer.

Specific transactions for the e-commerce sector subject to taxation

Key transactions that are significant from a taxation perspective in the e-commerce sector in Spain include:

  • importation of goods into Spain,
  • sale of goods from Spain,
  • intra-community transactions, which involve the sale of goods between European Union countries,
  • warehousing of goods in Spain followed by resale,
  • local sales, which entail purchasing goods and then reselling them within Spain,
  • digital services, digital content, software, or access to streaming platforms,
  • dropshipping, which involves direct delivery of goods from the supplier to the end customer,
  • subscriptions and subscription services,
  • crossing INTRASTAT thresholds (imports – 400,000 EUR, exports – 400,000 EUR).

VAT rates applicable in Spain in 2024

Standard Rate (21%)

This rate applies to the majority of standard goods and services, including electronics, furniture, clothing, luxury items, telecommunications services, data processing, repairs, and maintenance.

Reduced Rate (10%)

Applicable to certain food items, books, magazines, educational materials, hotel, restaurant, tourist, and recreational services, as well as home repairs.

Reduced Rate (4%)

Covers basic food products, medical supplies, personal hygiene items, as well as services related to public transportation, healthcare, and the delivery of hygiene products.

Zero Rate

Applies to the export of goods outside the European Union, intra-Community deliveries of goods, certain international transactions, as well as international transport services, real estate-related services outside Spain, and certain financial and insurance services.

Special Rates

Encompass art, antiques, investment gold, and specific real estate-related services such as construction.

Tax on plastic packaging applicable in Spain from 2023

As of January 1, 2023, a special plastic tax has been introduced in Spain, significantly impacting e-commerce entrepreneurs. The new regulations primarily focus on single-use packaging used for delivering products to Spain.

Companies introducing single-use packaging into the Spanish market, made from non-recycled materials, are obligated to appoint a tax representative. Failure to appoint such an individual carries the risk of a penalty of 1000 EUR.

In light of these provisions, every e-commerce entrepreneur conducting sales of products to Spain in single-use packaging weighing more than 5 kilograms per month is required to register with the Territorial Registry within 30 days of the tax coming into effect. The tax rate for each kilogram of introduced single-use packaging is 0.45 EUR.

The subsequent step involves regularly filing tax declarations, typically on a quarterly basis, wherein the e-commerce entrepreneur must provide information regarding the quantity of introduced plastic and the corresponding tax amount. After submitting the declaration, settling the tax liabilities becomes necessary.

If you have any questions about VAT registration in Spain or other issues, feel free to contact our experts: contact – amavat®.

amavat® team

Dominika Lech

Social Media & Marketing Assistant at getsix®, amavat®, HLB Polska. In the company since May 2023. Interested in Social Media, content marketing, and the e-commerce industry.

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