What is an EC Sales List (ESL)?

Definition of EC Sales List (ESL)

An EC Sales List (ESL) is a report that you have to send to HMRC if you run a business in Northern Ireland that is registered for VAT and that sells goods and related services to businesses in the European Union (EU).

A completed EC Sales List tells HMRC: 

  • details of each of a business’s EU customers
  • the value of the supplies a business has made to each of its EU customers 
  • the country code of each of a business’s EU customers

Important: After 1st January 2021, businesses based in England, Scotland and Wales no longer have to send EC Sales Lists to HMRC.

When filling in an EC Sales List, you need to add up how much your business has sold to each customer within a given time period (usually a quarter), then add that to the EC Sales List with a line for each customer. You should also include the customer’s local VAT number and a designatory number to show whether goods or services were sold. This designatory number is ‘0’ for goods and ‘3’ for services. You only have to report services on an EC Sales List if they are related to the supply of goods - for example, the installation of a piece of machinery.

When to complete an EC Sales List

You need to complete an EC Sales List if your business trades from Northern Ireland and has undertaken any of the following:

  • Supplied any goods from Northern Ireland to a VAT-registered customer in an EU country.
  • Filled in box 8 of its VAT return (this box relates to supplies to EU member states)
  • Moved any of its goods from Northern Ireland to a VAT-registered branch, office or subsidiary company that the business owns in an EU country
  • Given a credit note to a VAT-registered customer in an EU country for goods the business supplied from Northern Ireland, even if the business did not supply the customer with any goods in this period
  • Sold goods to a VAT-registered customer in an EU country and arranged for a supplier located in an EU country to send the goods directly to the customer (HMRC sometimes refers to this as triangulation)

HMRC provides more information about when to complete an EC Sales List on its website.

Disclaimer: The content included in this glossary is based on our understanding of tax law at the time of publication. It may be subject to change and may not be applicable to your circumstances, so should not be relied upon. You are responsible for complying with tax law and should seek independent advice if you require further information about the content included in this glossary. If you don't have an accountant, take a look at our directory to find a FreeAgent Practice Partner based in your local area.

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