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The end of the transitional period for departure from the United Kingdom from the European Union requires information on the criteria, for VAT purposes, applicable to travelers resident in that country, as of January 1, 2021.

From January 1, 2021, residents of the United Kingdom will cease to be citizens resident in the European Union when they leave the United Kingdom.


Therefore, from that date, British travellers will be entitled to a VAT refund under the travellers' scheme except for those resident in Northern Ireland, where European Union VAT rules will continue to apply

The requirements demanded by the tax regulations to be able to enjoy this tax benefit must be fulfilled at the moment of the accrual of the tax (moment of the provision of the goods to those travellers).

This means that purchases made by UK residents before the end of the transitional period provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement do not give rise to a right to a refund of the tax because they do not comply with the requirement of habitual residence outside the European Union at the time of accrual.

Therefore, only purchases made by UK residents from 1 January 2021 are eligible for a VAT refund.
Residents of Northern Ireland are not entitled to a refund of VAT on travellers as provided for in Article 8 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

In accordance with the provisions of Article 105 of Law 58/2003, General Taxation:

"In proceedings for the application of taxes, whoever asserts his right must prove the facts constituting that right".

Therefore, it is the British traveler who must prove by any means of evidence valid in law, that he is actually resident in one of the territories of the United Kingdom that attribute a right of reimbursement (and not in Northern Ireland).




Sales of goods to that territory will no longer be regarded as intra-Community supplies. They will become exempt exports. They will no longer have to be declared in Intrastat or 349.

The distance sales regime will no longer apply. Therefore, Spanish companies will no longer have to charge VAT on sales to private individuals. When purchasing the products, British buyers will be making an import.

Likewise, purchases of goods from that country will become imports. This will require VAT to be paid at customs. And, depending on which products, to pay customs duties.

It should be noted that EU regulations will be applicable to goods shipped or transported from the territory of the United Kingdom to the territory of a Member State, and vice versa, when the shipment or transport has begun up to 31 December 2020, even if it ends after 1 January 2021.




...sell goods or provide services to the United Kingdom, or
...buys goods or receives services from the UK, or
...transports goods through the UK, or
...uses UK materials and goods to trade under preferential regimes with EU partner countries.


This means, for example, that:


You must file customs declarations when you import goods from or export them to the UK, or transport your goods through the UK.

In addition to the customs declaration, you may have to provide security and safety data.

You will need a special licence to import or export certain goods (e.g. waste, certain hazardous chemicals or GMOs).

You will need to make additional arrangements to import or export excise goods (alcohol, tobacco or fuel) to or from the UK.

You will normally have to account for VAT in the EU country where you import the goods from the UK. You will be exempt from paying VAT in the EU in respect of any goods you export to the UK but you will then have to comply with the VAT rules applicable to imports into the UK.

When you do business with the UK, you will have to comply with different VAT rules and procedures to those applicable to transactions within the EU.


Josep Navarro's picture
Josep Navarro es Licenciado en Económicas por la UB, especializado en Inspecciones Tributarias, con más de 25 años de experiencia en asesoría fiscal para empresas y particulares en España.