I have completed some translation work for a language agency in Spain. I am registered as self-employed in the UK. I invoiced the agency, only for them to request an 'intracomunitary number'. I sent my UTR number along with a Certificate of UK Tax Residence which I requested from HMRC. I have explained to the client that I am self-employed and well below the VAT threshold. The client is not accepting this. My guess is they want a VAT number. Is it worth registering for VAT in the UK at this stage? My income as a freelancer is minimal and I am at my wits' end. Thank you.

  • Not knowing the law there (why this is a comment and not an answer), I'd refer to the contract you had written up for them, and threaten to take them to court if they don't pay for the services they received from you. I don't know how it would work though, since they're outside your country though.
    – Canadian Luke
    Aug 26, 2015 at 16:55
  • Note this comes up every so often, it is not necessary to be registered for VAT. They just need a number, send them your UTR and say "this is the required reference", or add text saying your exempt as per British tax law. You can get a VAT number apparently, phone up the HMRC and explain the situation with the Spanish bureaucrats.
    – gbjbaanb
    Sep 15, 2015 at 13:24
  • Thanks gbjaanb. I gave the agency my UTR which they ran past the tax office there; it is not the right one, and you shouldn't give your UTR number as this is between you and HMRC. I'd also said I was exempt and showed them my tax resident certificate. Back in July I rang HMRC and they didn't know what I was talking about.
    – Ana
    Sep 16, 2015 at 18:12

3 Answers 3


It may be a bit late, but I've just found a piece of info about this. The info is from the APTIC: "Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters of Catalonia".

Here is their FAQ on VAT and translations, from APTIC

It states that there are some translations exempt of VAT and some not. Ensure you change your language to English.

One thing to consider: Although Catalonia and Spain have some differences, I believe this text abides to Spanish law, so wherever your client was from, I guess it applies to them.

PS: Excuse my awful English : )


Read also FAQ#15, in particular this:

"A client can require this certificate (Suppliers Certificate) from its suppliers if two conditions occur:

· The invoiced item must constitute provision of services (not goods).

· The relationship between the client and supplier must be necessary; this means that the professional provides a service related to the client's main economic activity. For example, a translation agency or publishing house can require this certificate from its translators, but a company that manufactures shoes and has requested a one-off translation cannot do so."


although late, maybe useful for other readers. In Spain there is the possibility to provide with services as an individual (not even registered as a freelancer, nor having a proper VAT number), under some particular circumstances (annual income threshold and non regular activity). Still, you can invoice applying the required VAT, while being identified just with your ID number (that is the same number than your fiscal identification number in most cases, called NIF).

Probably your client just didn't know other way to do it, and they kept insisting because that is the only way they are used to, instead of making a consultation to the tax authorities to have the full and correct information on how to proceed.


It may depend on your contract, do they mention you need to be a Ltd company?

This could be a simple miscommunication issue, try explaining to them that you are self employed not a Ltd company therefore unable to register for VAT

  • 1
    Thank you for your answers. The agency confirmed that my certificate was genuine, but still needs a VAT number. I have since found out that Spanish companies can only legally deal with VAT-registered companies including other EU service providers. Anyone smaller like myself is going to sail into hot water. This was not made clear at any stage. A learning process indeed. It's worth broadcasting to any UK/EU freelancers that the only way you can provide an EU-wide service is by registering for VAT in your own country.One person said the choice is stark: 1) Register for VAT 2) Lose your client.
    – Ana
    Aug 29, 2015 at 10:44
  • 2
    @Ana it may be worth self-answering your own question here
    – Amelia
    Oct 1, 2015 at 8:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.