Intrastat is an obligation created in 1993 that applies to certain businesses that trade internationally in the European Union. Specifically, it relates to the movement of goods – arrivals and dispatches – across EU Member States.
The requirements of Intrastat remain similar across the EU, though certain Member States have implemented rules differently. As a result, it can be confusing when trading cross-border in the region.
From reports and returns to thresholds and specific codes, knowing what applies to your business and how to comply is important. Consider this your go-to guide to understand Intrastat rules, requirements, reporting and terminology.
Intrastat reporting largely involves statistics but does occasionally require fiscal data. The information needed depends on the threshold of the EU Member State that your business is established within.
The mandatory data in Intrastat reports were originally regulated by Article 9 of Regulation (EC) No 638/2004, which is no longer in force, though it also lists optional elements for reporting consistency across the EU. Typical data requirements included:
- The nature of transaction (NoTC)
- The value and quantity of the goods
- The VAT number of the reporting party
- The reference period (in MM/YY format)
- The Member State goods are dispatched to or from
- Intrastat code (also known as commodity code or Combined Nomenclature)
- The trade flow (dispatch/arrival)
In 2022, a project for the modernisation of Intrastat was introduced, Regulation (EC) No 638/2004 was abolished, and a new Regulation 2019/2152 entered into force. In addition to the data mentioned above, it made the following information mandatory in all Member States:
- The country of origin of the goods
- The EU VAT number identification of the partner operator in the country of arrival
Optionally, Member States can also opt to ask for:
- Mode of transport
- Delivery terms
An Intrastat return, also known as an Intrastat declaration, replaced customs declarations in 1993 to serve as the source of trade statistics within the European Union.
These returns provide the European Commission, as well as EU National Customs Authorities, with detailed insights into the goods being traded in the European Union. Due to the information required in the declarations, authorities can identify the kinds of goods that are circulating, as well as the volume of such goods.
If a company does not submit Intrastat returns when qualifying to do so it might be liable to hefty fines.
It’s important to understand how Intrastat works with other compliance obligations in general, such as submitting VAT returns, recapitulative statements (EC Sales Lists) and, notably for e-commerce sellers in the EU, schemes like Union OSS.
Do I need to submit an Intrastat return?
Intrastat returns are required when your business dispatches goods to or acquires goods from another EU Member State when the value exceeds the country’s threshold. Each Member State sets the deadline for the submission of declarations to its respective national tax authority.
In Germany, for example, applicable businesses must report every month, with each declaration required within 10 days after the end of the reporting period ending. This can be done online or through the Germany statistics authority portal.
Your business should check the value of goods traded within EU Member States for the past year to see whether they exceed national thresholds.
Qualifying thresholds dictate whether a business must register for Intrastat or not. These thresholds must be calculated each year, with each EU Member State having its own figure that changes annually.
When a threshold is exceeded in a country, businesses should continue to file Intrastat returns until the applicable January-December period is complete.
Read our blog for a comprehensive Intrastat threshold table containing each country’s qualifying figure.
Otherwise known as commodity codes or Combined Nomenclature (CN), Intrastat numbers are part of a system allowing authorities to identify the types of goods traded across the European Union. The requirements for Intrastat numbers are largely the same across EU Member States, with just a few exceptions.
These numbers, or codes, are part of an eight-digit system that is comprised of Harmonized System (HS) codes and EU subdivisions. They contain complete nomenclature for the description of goods and are subject to annual revisions, ensuring they are up to date with technology and trading patterns.
The European Commission published the Intrastat numbers for 2023 in October 2022.
How Sovos can help
Sovos’ SAP Framework for periodic reports including Intrastat takes care of the extraction of data required to generate periodic reporting for businesses. Sovos’ solution generates compliant Intrastat reports by extracting data from required SAP modules. Using SAP with this add-on provides a framework for periodic returns including Intrastat, EC Sales Lists and SAF-T.
In turn, this increases the ease of compliance and reduces the risk of penalties from incorrect filings – producing cost and time savings for your business.
Speak to our team about how we can help with Intrastat compliance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Intrastat still required after Brexit?
Intrastat returns are still required by businesses registered for VAT in the UK, even after Brexit, with respect to supplies of goods from the EU into Northern Ireland and vice-versa.
Who needs to file Intrastat?
Businesses in the EU that trade goods with other EU countries – whether they’re dispatched or received – need to file Intrastat returns if the annual trade value exceeds the applicable country’s threshold.
What is Intrastat reporting in Europe?
Intrastat is a system which allows the European Union to track traded goods between its Member States. It was devised to replace customs reporting on the movement of goods within the EU, which stopped in 1993.
What is an Intrastat code?
Intrastat divides goods into categories that are identified by eight-digit codes. These categories are typically referred to as Intrastat codes, commodity codes or Combined Nomenclature (CN).
Want to learn about EU VAT compliance? Our Introduction to EU VAT is a great place to start. We also have specific guides to help you understand important EU tax requirements, including the EU VAT e-commerce package and VAT between European countries.