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From 1 Jan 2021
Following the end of the Brexit Transition Period purchases from suppliers in the EC are treated in a similar manner to those from the rest of the world. Whilst these guidelines are being updated please see the Purchasing Guidelines on the Brexit Transition pages for more information.


If goods are purchased from another EC member state (see Appendix A for a list of EC members) and are brought into the UK then the supplier should not charge VAT provided that the supplier is advised of the University's VAT number (823 8476 09). However, this is not as beneficial as it might seem at first, because if the goods would have been VATable if purchased in this country then the University is required by law to charge itself VAT at the UK rate of 20%. This tax is called acquisition tax.

To enter an EC invoice on CUFS you will need to enter the amount of the invoice, specify £0 in the tax amount box and attribute the invoice to the tax code of EC20%."

So if you have an invoice for £100

Select EC20% as the VAT rate

  • Enter £100 in the invoice amount box. Enter £0 in the tax amount box.
  • The system will automatically then charge acquisition tax in the distributions.

This VAT charge will only apply to purchases from Europe if the goods that are being bought are VATable in the UK.

Examples of common purchases of goods from the EC and the VAT rate to choose.

A book bought from France:
No self VAT charge applies because books are zero-rated in the UK. On CUFS you should select the VAT rate 'No UK VAT'.

A purchase of goods qualifying for medical exemption:
No self VAT charge is necessary because items purchased using the medical exemption are zero-rated and no Vat is charged in the UK. You should select the tax rate ME0% on CUFS.

Tissue for medical research:
No self VAT charge applies because this is an exempt supply if made in the UK. On CUFS you should select the VAT rate 'No UK VAT'.

You will need to provide the University's VAT number (GB 823 8476 09) or the supplier will charge you VAT at the rate applicable in their country.

Goods not physically brought into the UK

If goods are purchased which will not be physically brought into the UK, then the supplier should charge VAT in their country. This VAT must not be separately identified when the invoice is coded to UFS.

Copy invoices to VAT section

The University has to make a special statistical return to Customs for all goods purchased from other member states which are brought into the UK. It is called an Intrastat return. In order to complete the necessary details on this form information which is normally shown on an invoice but which is not held in CUFS needs to be recorded. Departments should therefore send copy invoices for any of these goods to the Finance Division, addressed to:

The Intrastat Assistant
The Tax Section, Finance Division
Greenwich House
Madingley Rise, Madingley Road
Cambridge CB3 0TX


Please see our CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 Assistance pages for help with areas of Finance during the current situation.

UFS issued communications and the University website also contain information on this topic

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