The VAT registration number in France: What is it?

French VAT number explained

If your company has any sort of relationship with European partners, then it must have a VAT registration number. But what is it?

How is it determined?

It basically functions as an identification number for every European company that has to pay the VAT. Generally, the country’s tax administration will give it to you as soon as you register your company.
This number’s structure changes depending on the country, but in France, it’s made up of 11 digits: a key of 2 digits followed by the 9 digits of the SIREN number.

What’s the point of the VAT registration number?

Basically, it makes it easier for European companies to trade with each other. For example, it makes it easy for authorities to identify companies, thus making it easier for companies to pass through customs, and it even allows for the deductible VAT to be reimbursed between countries.

As such, it must appear on all invoices, goods trade documentation and, of course, business VAT returns.

What transactions are concerned by the VAT number?

Both acquisitions across the EU and deliveries across the EU are concerned. Keep in mind that in the case of acquisitions, if a new product is being introduced on French territory, then it’s going to be subject to the French VAT. In the case of deliveries from France to another European country, in principle, the product will be subject to the French VAT.

More on the differences in VAT rates between countries

However, it can be exempt from the French VAT if the transaction has a commercial goal, both the vendor and the buyer are subject to the VAT, and you have the buyer’s VAT number and supporting documents for transporting goods out of France.

As such, it’s always a good idea to have your VAT number available to you!