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The VAT rules for services are different depending on whether we are providing them to a business (B2B) or to an individual (B2C)

If providing digital services, the rules are complex.  Please contact the University’s Tax Team.

On this page:

For an overview of the services VAT rules, see our ROW services flowchart.

Download: the Briefing Notes 1 Dec 20 - AR Guidelines

Sales of services to overseas businesses (B2B)

Overseas B2B supplies of services are normally zero-rated unless they are one of the exceptions in the table below. Quoting the buyer’s VAT number is the best way to evidence that the customer is in business so please continue to do this as best practice.   When raising an invoice on CUFS please use the tax code 'RS - Services to ROW'.

Exceptions to the general rule for services to businesses
  • Accomodation
  • Catering
  • Passenger transport
  • Services relating to land
  • Right of admission to cultural events inc.confereces, seminars and course fees

Will be treated as taking place where the activity is located and, assuming in most cases the activity will take place in the UK, the normal UK VAT rules will apply - see Sales/Income in the UK.

     Where located - as above.

  • Hire of goods

  • Electronically supplied services

If the items/services are used in the UK they will be subject to UK VAT rules (this is called ‘use & enjoyment’).

  • Education

Should be entered on CUFS as EX- Exempt irrespective of the location of your customer.

Sales of services to overseas individuals (B2C)

Generally, sales of services to non-UK individuals will be treated as if they were supplied in the UK, and the normal UK VAT rules will apply – they will often be SR20% or exempt education.

There are exceptions to this.  The following type of sales will be VAT-free, and the VAT code 'RS - Services to ROW' should be used when raising an invoice on CUFS:

  • Transfers and assignments of copyrights, patents, licenses, trademarks and similar rights
  • Hire of goods where they are used and enjoyed outside the UK
There are complex rules for digital services – please contact the University Tax team.

Miscellaneous receipts

For income receipted into CUFS (not driven by invoices) from overseas customers, Departments should continue to consider whether there is a supply for VAT purposes and what the nature of this is (goods or services) and then follow the guidance above.


Other considerations and further information from HMRC

In addition to the tax treatment of any sales departments may also need to consider a number of other items if they intend to travel for businessor and provide services. The rules may be different in each country and include:

  • trade and services regulations
  • business travel and entry requirements
  • recognition of professional qualifications
  • data transfer and GDPR

Providing services and travelling for business to the EU, Switzerland , Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein: country guides

last updated 1 Dec 20

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