After the UK withdrawal from the common EU VAT regime, UK companies need to understand the impact of Brexit on their current business model. Specifically, companies need to evaluate whether their current supply chain is sufficiently flexible to continue to deliver to EU in a post-Brexit environment. There are issues to consider and analyze that may have an impact across all business functions.
In many cases a UK company can supply goods or provide services to EU recipients, without being obliged to create a tax permanent establishment for income tax purposes in the EU member state of the recipients (in accordance with the applicable DTT). However, in such cases, the UK company may have VAT obligations (e.g. filing of VAT returns, payment of VAT, etc.) in the member state of its customers, if the VAT reverse charge mechanism is not applicable by the recipient.
In such occasions Greece requires from the non-EU companies (as UK companies) to acquire a Greek VAT registration number and appoint a VAT fiscal representative before the performance of such transactions, so that the latter fulfills their VAT obligations in Greece on their behalf.
UK companies cannot be self-registered in Greece and fulfil their VAT obligations from abroad since the appointment of a VAT representative is mandatory for all non-EU companies.
Examples of business activities which are often performed in Greece by non-EU companies and have VAT obligations may be the following:
- Maintenance of stock of goods within the Greek territory in a 3PL’s premises
- Importation of goods in Greece for further supply within Greece or delivery to other EU member states (B2B transactions)
- Acquisition of goods in Greece on behalf of UK companies
- Exportation of goods from Greece on behalf of UK companies
- Triangular transactions involving supply of good from one EU member state to another EU member state
- Distance Sales (B2C transactions)
- Telecommunications, broadcasting, and electronic services provided by UK companies to Greek individuals.
- Construction projects taking place in Greece (in the case where they do not give rise to a permanent establishment according to the Greece-UK DTT)
- Installation or assembly of goods in Greece by a UK supplier
- Services related to immovable property - real estate located in Greece
- Services in respect of cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, educational, entertainment or similar events, such as fairs and exhibitions.
It is pointed out that obtaining a VAT number and appointing a VAT representative in Greece does not mean that the UK company has set up a branch or any other form of legal entity in Greece; it merely implies that the UK firm has local VAT obligations, which need to be fulfilled. In the event where the business activities of a UK company in Greece give rise to a permanent establishment issue, according to the provisions of the DTT between Greece and the UK, the UK firm would be required to establish a branch (or another tax presence) in Greece, to comply with its income and other tax and accounting obligations in Greece. Further, it has to be noted that the VAT representative of a foreign company in Greece is jointly liable for the tax obligations of the represented company.