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All European Union (EU) states have a VAT refund procedure for foreign businesses.

United States (US) companies that are not established in the EU may make VAT recovery claims under the EU’s scheme for external claimants, the 13th Directive.

13th Council Directive 86/560/EEC of 17 November 1986 on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover tax arrangements for the refund of value-added tax to taxable persons not established in Community territory [Official Journal L 326 of 21.11.1986].


This Directive concerns all companies outside the European Union which undertake expenses within the Union, such as :

  • Trade fair costs
  • Liaison office costs
  • After-sales service
  • Intra-group invoicing

This directive can recover the VAT they suffered in accordance with the legislation proper to each country.

Some European countries will not allow the recovery of VAT through this Directive for non-EU companies unless there is a reciprocal agreement in place between your government and the country you wish to make a claim in.

For 13th directive the claim period in all states is a calendar year, with a deadline of 30 June of the following year. So, claims for 2007 are due by 30. But this is not applicable in United Kingdom, where the13th Directive claim year is 1 July to 30 June and the claim deadline is 31 December. So, in the UK, 13th Directive claims for the year 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008 are due by 31 December 2008. Most states enforce these time limits strictly, but a few will allow older claims, for instance Belgium and the Netherlands.

Most states enforce these time limits strictly, but a few will allow older claims, for instance Belgium and the Netherlands.

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