Do I need to charge VAT as an ecommerce merchant?

John Jago on | 3 min read

As an ecommerce merchant, understanding your tax obligations is crucial to running a successful business. Value Added Tax (VAT) is a common tax system implemented by many countries worldwide. In this article, we will delve into the topic of VAT and explore whether ecommerce merchants need to charge VAT. We will also discuss popular payment platforms like Stripe and PayPal, and how they can assist in handling VAT and tax-related matters.

What is VAT?

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a consumption tax levied on the value added to goods and services at each stage of the supply chain. Unlike traditional sales tax, VAT is imposed at multiple stages of production and distribution, ensuring that the tax burden is ultimately borne by the end consumer. VAT rates vary from country to country, and it is important to be aware of the regulations in the jurisdictions where you operate.

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When do I need to charge VAT?

If your ecommerce business exceeds the VAT threshold in a particular country, you will generally be required to register for VAT and charge it on your sales. It is essential to consult with a tax professional or local authorities to determine the specific regulations for each jurisdiction you operate in.

VAT thresholds

One of the primary considerations for ecommerce merchants regarding VAT is whether they exceed the VAT threshold in their target market(s). VAT thresholds refer to the annual revenue or sales volume at which a business becomes liable to register and charge VAT. These thresholds differ across countries, and failure to comply with the regulations may result in penalties or legal consequences.

VAT rates

VAT rates can vary depending on the country and the type of goods or services being sold. In some countries, there are reduced VAT rates for certain items such as food and books. It is important to check the applicable VAT rates for each country and item you are selling.

How to set up VAT

VAT registration

It is important to note that if you are required to charge VAT, you will also need to register for VAT with the relevant tax authority. This involves completing VAT registration forms and providing information about your business.

VAT invoicing

When you charge VAT, you are required to issue VAT invoices to your customers. These invoices must include certain information such as your VAT registration number, the VAT rate charged, and the total amount of VAT charged.

VAT and marketplace selling

If you sell on a marketplace, such as Amazon or eBay, the marketplace may be responsible for collecting and remitting VAT on your behalf. However, it is important to check the marketplace's policies to ensure that you are complying with all relevant regulations.

Stripe and VAT

Stripe is a popular payment platform used by ecommerce merchants to process online payments. When it comes to VAT compliance, Stripe offers various tools and features to simplify the process. For example, Stripe allows you to add VAT identification numbers for your customers, making it easier to track and report VAT-related transactions. Moreover, Stripe provides detailed reporting capabilities, enabling you to generate VAT-compliant reports for accounting and tax purposes.

PayPal and VAT

PayPal is another widely used payment platform that offers support for VAT compliance. PayPal provides options to add VAT rates to your products or services, ensuring that the appropriate VAT amount is automatically calculated and charged to customers at checkout. Additionally, PayPal generates transaction reports that can assist you in managing VAT obligations and staying compliant.


As an ecommerce merchant, it is crucial to stay informed about your VAT obligations in the jurisdictions you operate. Exceeding the VAT threshold in a country typically requires you to register for VAT and charge it on your sales. However, specific regulations may vary, and it is recommended to seek guidance from tax professionals or local authorities. Payment platforms like Stripe and PayPal offer valuable tools and features to simplify VAT compliance, helping you streamline your checkout and payment processes while ensuring adherence to tax regulations. By understanding and fulfilling your VAT obligations, you can run your ecommerce business smoothly and avoid any legal or financial complications.

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