Richard Cornelisse

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Basic legal framework

EU VAT legislation is based mainly on directives. A directive is binding upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but leaves the choice of form and methods to the national authorities who transpose it into national legislation.

The main piece of legislation is the VAT Directive (2006/112/EC).

Other legislation includes:

  1. Directive 2008/9/EC (VAT Refund – EU business)
  2. Directive 86/560/EEC (VAT Refund – non-EU business)
  3. Directive 2009/132/EC (VAT-free importation)
  4. Directive 2006/79/EC (private consignments)
  5. Directive 2007/74/EC (travellers' allowances)

Binding implementing measures to ensure uniform application of the VAT Directive can be found in the VAT Implementing Regulation (Council Regulation (EU) No 282/2011). Those measures are directly applicable without transposition into national law.

In addition Member States, to prevent fraud or simplify procedures for collecting VAT, may be authorised to derogate  from the VAT Directive (see the list of derogations).


Each Member State is responsible for the transposition of these provisions into national legislation and their correct application within its territory although it is bound by implementing measures adopted at EU level. The primary responsibility for informing about the interpretation and application of these provisions rests with Member States.

Member States are in their application of EU provisions on VAT guided by discussions in the VAT Committee.

Relevant links

28 EU Member States

EU MS 28 1