VIES- VAT Information Exchange System
What is VIES?
VIES (VAT Information Exchange System) is a search engine owned by the European Commission. The data is retrieved from national VAT databases when a search is made from the VIES tool.
The search result that is displayed within the VIES tool can be in one of two ways; EU VAT information exists (valid) or it doesn't exist (invalid).
If a valid response is received the EU VAT information will be displayed in the VIES tool.
If the system returns an invalid status it means that the VAT number you are trying to validate is not registered in the relevant national database. This is due to one of the following reasons:
- the VAT number does not exist
- the VAT number has not been activated for intra-EU transactions
- the registration is not yet finalised (some EU countries require a separate registration for intra-EU transactions).
These changes are not always reflected immediately in the national databases and consequently in VIES. For urgent matters, you are advised to contact your local tax administration.
What if an existing number isn't verified?
If your customer claims that they are registered for VAT — but the verification through VIES does not confirm this — they can request verification with the tax office in their country. They may be required to make an additional registration for EU cross-border transactions. This procedure varies between EU countries.
Requesting additional information
If you cannot find the information on VIES you should request more information at national level with your national authorities. You should then be able to confirm:
- if the VAT number is valid or not;
- if the VAT number is 'associated with' a certain name and address.