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When You Need A VAT Number To Open An Online Shop

Do you need a VAT number for e-commerce? What is the correct bureaucratic procedure to open the VAT number? If you want to sell online, you must have one. There are a few cases in which this is not required, and they all have to do with the occasional nature of the sale (and there is also an annual revenue limit). Find out in this article the procedure for opening a VAT number to be in good standing and start selling online.

In Which Tax Situation Is It Necessary To Have A VAT Number For Selling Online?

If you want to open e-commerce to sell online, you must know a very precise bureaucratic process to follow. It is not enough to create a store with a platform and upload the products in the catalog: first, you must follow the procedures that allow the invoicing of what you will collect. Consequently, if you open your e-commerce, you will be subject to tax rules.

Having A Company To Sell Online

Establishing a company is mandatory if you want to sell online continuously and without quantity restrictions. Furthermore, you must be of legal age and possess moral and professional requirements. The former concern the owner’s integrity and VAT number, i.e., those who have been declared habitual or professional delinquents or those who have received a sentence for which a prison sentence of not less than three years is envisaged.

On the other hand, the latter provides for the possession of particular qualifications in certain cases, such as for the sale of food products. Finally, anyone who opens a VAT number to sell online must remember that if there is an exchange of goods and services purchased and paid for online but with delivery to the buyer through physical delivery, they operate with an “indirect” and e-commerce. In this case, the legislation provides for electronic invoice issuance when requested by the customer.

Open A VAT Number: Bureaucratic Process

To correctly follow the bureaucratic process to open a VAT number, you must contact an accountant or the Revenue Agency. Alternatively, it is possible to do it online by filling in the start-up form (model AA9 / 12, model AA7 / 10) and registering with Fisconline to electronically send the form to open the VAT number. In fact, like a physical store, e-commerce must also refer to a company previously established when the website is put online. This allows you to invoice via electronic invoicing. Opening the VAT number has no costs, except for the administrative fees (35.50 euros) and the stamp duty.

If the online sales activity becomes regular and continuous – as it is assumed it should be that of e-commerce – then the obligation to open a VAT number is triggered to comply with the tax authorities. To do this, you must fill in the form AA7 / 10 or AA9 / 12 within 30 days from the actual start of the activity, by electronic Entratel sent directly or by authorized persons or through Single Communication (ComUnica). To open the VAT number, it is necessary to identify the right ATECO code, and in the case of e-commerce, the most suitable is “Retail sale of any type of product via the Internet” (ATECO 47.91.10).

Also Read: Thee Innovate Hacks To Double Up Your E-Commerce Revenue

Flat-Rate Tax Regime To Open E-Commerce

Once the ATECO code has been identified, it is necessary to choose the tax regime. The flat rate at this time is certainly the most advantageous, indicated for not very high business volumes (therefore, to start e-commerce is more than enough) as it allows you to join it to those who do not exceed the maximum income threshold of 65,000 euros per year. It provides for various tax concessions, namely:

  • 5% taxation for the first 5 years (a percentage which then becomes 15%) on taxable income (equal to 40% of turnover);
  • VAT exemption (this allows you to lower the sales prices to the end customer and have a competitive advantage over the others);
  • Exemption from esterometer, sector studies, etc.;
  • Exemption from electronic invoicing

In any case, a holder of a flat-rate VAT number is obliged to send the Intrastat form for sales to customers in EU countries.

Occasional Sale: When Possible

If you start e-commerce, you must open a VAT number because you will become a full-fledged business. There is only one exception to the obligation to register for VAT, namely the occasional sale. If you only sell a few products online with varying frequencies, you could use withholding tax. Those whose revenues do not exceed 5,000 euros per year net of expenses (in the case of services) are exempted from opening the VAT number, while for those who sell products, there is no quantity limit and 30 working days.

Furthermore, you must not have collaborators or subordinate workers but carry out the production yourself. In any case, you will have to issue generic receipts, which you will need at the time of the tax return because they must be declared with form 730 or the Unico form in which the following data must be reported:

  • Name and surname of buyer and seller;
  • Description and price of the product sold;
  • Date, place, and signature of the seller;
  • Clarification that this is an occasional sale;
  • Affixing a € 2 revenue stamp if the amount of the receipt exceeds € 77.47.

Be careful because you cannot open e-commerce without a VAT number, but you must sell through other channels. We are talking about a very particular situation. An online store would make no sense to exist if not to sell continuously and frequently at higher volumes than the threshold useful for occasional sales. However, suppose you have a different project with a deadline (for example, organizing a one-off event or training course). In that case, you can take advantage of this possibility, creating an e-commerce or a landing page active for no more than 30 days.

Selling On Marketplaces Without A VAT Number

No matter the marketplace, the determining factor for selling without a VAT number is always the occasional or not. However, you must remember that you must always demonstrate that yours is an occasional activity: it is not the number of goods and services sold that makes an occasional activity, but the subject’s propensity to offer himself on the market. If you want to sell on a marketplace without a VAT number, you must do so by adjusting your presence throughout the year.

If your brand is always present, even if you sell twice a year, you will have to face a possible check that considers the fact that the marketplace is active 365 days a year, so it is certainly not something occasional. Even if you only use them at certain times of the year, you need to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that yours is a one-time sale. The correct way to sell on ad sites such as eBay or Subito instead is to place an ad or product sporadically during the year because it is not a commercial activity but the sporadic sale of some property, which does not require a receipt.


The online shop is a commercial activity that requires the opening of a VAT number. You must promptly communicate to the Revenue Agency the web address of the e-commerce site, the data of the Internet Service Provider, the e-mail address, and finally, the telephone and fax numbers. There are a series of bureaucratic aspects to be considered to operate in the utmost legality, starting at the opening of the VAT number with the choice of the ATECO code.

If you want to do it without a VAT number, the only solution is the occasional sale, but you have to do your web presence, and you will not be able to use an online e-commerce site all year round. Otherwise, it is necessary to open it, register with the Chamber of Commerce, and proceed with all the required bureaucratic steps.

Also Read: AI In E-commerce: What Is Already Working Today?

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