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EU Addresses, Postal Codes and VAT

Setting up to sell from the UK to the EU

6:52 pm on Nov 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm setting up my e-commerce site to accept orders from other EU countries - currently I just sell to the UK.

Just wondering, with the exception of Ireland, do all other EU countries have postal codes?

Also I currently collect 'county' as part of the customer address at the moment - should I make this optional?

I am VAT registered in the UK. I know if the EU customer is VAT registered in their own country, I don't have to charge them VAT. If they aren't VAT registered, do I charge VAT as I would a normal UK customer?



12:13 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I cannot remember any order without a postal code from any EU country except of Ireland, and I think we have delieverd in pretty much every country there is in Europe. (Except some of the new members in Eastern Europe)

And county should definetly be optional. In most of Europe an address looks simply like this:

John Miller
Examplestreet 23
45666 City

The VAT registriation is only of importance if you are doing Business to Business. If the other company provides you with their VAT ID you can then put it on the Invoice and don't have to charge VAT.

For private indivduals and businesses without VAT ID it depends. Normally you charge the UK VAT. However if you exceed certain thresholds in sales to a specific country you have to register in that country and charge the local VAT.


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10:47 pm on Nov 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ireland is the only country that I can think of without a postal code system. There is a site called "Franks Compulsive Guide to Postal Addresses" which will tell you far more than you ever wanted to know about postcodes and address formats.
6:45 pm on Dec 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Re "Also I currently collect 'county' as part of the customer address at the moment - should I make this optional?". Why not just Google your competitors based in each EU (or other country) and see how they set up their address fields?

Also - don't forget peculiarities like the Spanish having two seperate surnames called apellidos. Apellido-1 and Apellido-2 (Your first surname is the first apellido of your father; your second is your mother's first (ie maiden) apellido / surname). It's a pain, but if you dont cater for it it knocks percenatges of conversion rates.

And best of luck with euros v. pounds v. Danish krona - a total PITA!

9:35 am on Dec 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Guys,

Thanks for the replies.

Yes, I've made county optional - actually in some ways it makes sense to do it this way for UK addresses too. Before it was quite normal to see Town: London, County: London!

I've still got postcode as mandatory, though of course I took an order from Ireland the other day! The guy entered 0000 instead - I'll look at making this optional depending on the country they've selected.

Spanish having two seperate surnames called apellidos

Wouldn't they just enter all this in my lastname field?

At the moment, I'm just charging VAT on everything as I'm only posting to EU countries. But then I had a guy from Norway wanting to order - Norway deliberately wasn't on my country list because of this. So now I'm trying to think of the best way to handle this, and then how to account for VAT exempt orders in my accounting. At the moment, in my accounting, I just assume that everything is charged at standard rate VAT.

Anyone got any suggestions how to best to handle this? I'm thinking about extracting a report from my database at the end of each month, and entering an adjustment for the VAT exempt orders.