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E-Commerce VAT Compliance Outside the EU – Low Value Goods

Russell Hughes
April 29, 2022

E-businesses have recently been dealing with the change of rules within the EU with the introduction of the E-Commerce VAT Package but it’s also important to ensure compliance requirements are being met globally. In this blog we look at some of the low value goods regimes that have been introduced over the last few years together with those on the horizon.

Switzerland

Switzerland was one of the first countries outside the EU to introduce a low value goods regime when it revised the Swiss VAT law with effect from 1 January 2018. Previously, import of goods below CHF 62.50 were exempt from Swiss customs duty and import VAT. However, from 1 January 2018 any overseas sellers importing low value goods below CHF62.50 (standard-rated goods) or CHF 200 (reduced rated goods) that breach the CHF 100,000 threshold are required to register for and charge Swiss VAT on the sales of those goods.

Norway

On 1 April 2020, Norway introduced the VAT on E-Commerce (VOEC) scheme for foreign sellers and online marketplaces selling low value goods. These low value goods include those with a value below NOK 3,000 exclusive of shipping and insurance costs. The threshold applies per item and not per invoice, although doesn’t include sales of foodstuffs, alcohol and tobacco as these goods continue to be subject to border collection of VAT, excise duties and customs duties. Any foreign seller that exceeds the threshold of NOK 50,000 has an obligation to register for Norwegian VAT and apply this at the point of sale if they’re registered under the VOEC scheme.

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand introduced very similar schemes to collect GST on low value goods being sold by overseas sellers. Australia introduced its scheme on 1 July 2018 for all goods with a customs value of less than AUD 1,000 and a turnover threshold of AUD 75,000 which once breached means the overseas seller must register for Australian GST and charge this at the point of sale.

New Zealand introduced a low value goods scheme on 1 October 2019 and applied this to low value goods valued at less than NZD 1,000. The turnover threshold in New Zealand is NZD 60,000 which once breached requires the overseas seller to register and charge New Zealand GST.

United Kingdom

Following Brexit, the UK abolished the low value goods consignment relief of GBP 15 and introduced a new regime on 1 January 2021 covering imports of goods from outside the UK in consignments not exceeding GBP 135 in value (which aligns with the threshold for customs duty liability). Under these new rules, the point at which VAT is collected moves from the point of importation to the point of sale. This has meant that UK supply VAT, rather than import VAT, will be due on these consignments. Making these supplies requires registration for VAT in the UK from the first sale.

Singapore

Singapore is the latest country to announce it will introduce new rules for low value goods. Effective 1 January 2023, private consumers in Singapore will be required to pay 7% GST on goods valued at SGD 400 or below that are imported into Singapore via air or post (the GST rate will rise to 9% sometime between 2022 to 2025).

  • The Inland Revenue of Singapore released some guidance on the new rules which defined low value goods as follows:
  • Not dutiable goods, or are dutiable goods but payment of customs duty or excise duty on the goods is waived under section 11 of the Customs Act
  • Not exempt from GST
  • Located outside Singapore and are to be delivered to Singapore via air or post
  • Have a value not exceeding the import relief threshold of SGD 400.

An overseas vendor (i.e., supplier, electronic marketplace operator or re-deliverer) will be liable for GST registration where their global turnover and value of B2C supplies of low value goods made to non-GST-registered customers in Singapore exceeds SGD 1 million at the end of any calendar year. It may also be possible to register voluntarily if required.

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Want to ensure compliance with the latest e-commerce VAT requirements across the globe? Get in touch with Sovos’ team of experts today or download Trends Edition 13 to learn about global VAT trends.

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Author

Russell Hughes

At Sovos, Russell works within the Consulting team providing UK and cross-border supply advice, detailed reviews on existing and new business activities and practical solutions to clients’ businesses. Prior to joining Sovos, Russell was the VAT manager of an award-winning tax team based in a firm of Chartered Accountants in the South East of England. Having initially begun his career in audit and accounts, he specialized in VAT in 2011, where he gained significant experience in cross-border issues, imports and exports, land and property, group registrations, partial exemption, HMRC enquiries and other complex VAT transactions. From June 2015, Russell was the sole VAT specialist in his previous company, where he led the firm’s VAT compliance and consultancy projects including all day-to-day VAT queries. Russell is also a member of the VAT Practitioners Group (VPG).
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