What must be considered in accounting with foreign business partners?

Globalization continues to grow and contacts with foreign customers and business partners are not excluded. But lurking here, especially in the invoice, each lot of pitfalls.

The most important facts about the accounting to foreign customers and business partners, we would like to introduce briefly below:

Principle of accounting for goods and services abroad

First, a distinction must be where a service is provided. A simple basic rule here is:

a. If a payment was made by a German contractor for a contractor domiciled abroad, the delivery is performed abroad. The key here is always the location of the service receiver. This is also the case when the service has been performed in Germany, such as the office of the service provider from.

b. Provides the same company the same performance again by its German office for a private person domiciled abroad, the power than in Germany is provided and must in this country be taxed by the entrepreneur.

Special invoice information required

For those invoices to foreign business partner specific details on the invoice are required. Within the EU and in third countries must be distinguished here again. The following basic rules apply here:

Reporting in the EU

For the calculation the following data are required in addition to the other mandatory information:

→ tax identification number (VAT ID) of the service provider (biller)

→ Tax ID of the recipient (Debtor)

→ Note on reverse charge (reverse charge mechanism).

As of 2013, it is considered a mandatory text stating that reads "tax liability of the recipient".

Accounting in third countries

If the seat of the company is not in the EU, but in a so-called third country apply different rules. The accounting orients itself on the basis of force in the third country tax rules which are to be inquired. In any case, a note on the bill to include that it is a non-taxable benefit, such as: "Do not controllable in the domestic power". Sales tax must be shown on bills in third countries neither business nor to individuals.

Business status shall be verified

Also the German biller is required if he wants to waive the reporting of sales tax to prove the business status of the invoice recipient. This is done using the Tax ID of the recipient. You must be checked with the Federal Central Tax Office. The testing can be done by fax, e-mail, phone or online. To test foreign tax ID numbers every business in Germany is entitled is able to present its own Tax ID number. These specify accordingly for each query.

After entry of the Tax ID of the customer, as well as its address data is immediately checked that all items are the same. If this is the case, everything is in order. If no match is present is to be expected that the performance is not accomplished for the company but for the entrepreneur as an individual. In this case, the German sales tax must be reported.

Although the verification and confirmation can be done online, German entrepreneurs, however, are obliged to send the qualified confirmation in writing and to take them to their documents in order to prove at any time.

For companies in the third country other rules apply. This feature generally does not have a Tax ID number, but only on a business certificate from the tax authorities. And this is because be submitted to the health care provider.

Specify International Bank Account

Important for bills abroad is the fact that the international bank account is specified. That is, the →

a. International Bank Account Number (IBAN) and the

b. BIC / SWIFT code

must be specified. The IBAN is in this case from 22 points which are divided as follows:

→ country code - double digits and alphabetic (for Germany: DE)

→ Check digit for IBAN - two digits

→ Bank Code - an eight-digit

→ Account Number - ten digits - with shorter account numbers will be padded with leading zeros to ten digits

The BIC or SWIFT code, however, is the international bank code. Most banks provide this information known to the bank statements. Since the information is but its in the context of migration to the SEPA process compulsory in future also in Germany, it is advisable to switch letterheads and Co. now.

Fill in the VAT return

If invoices are provided to companies abroad, so specific disclosures must also be considered in the VAT return. The following rule applies:

a. Services / goods within the EU are in line 41, enter code 21.

b. Services / supplies in third countries are indicated in line 42, code 45.


Whoever has intercourse with foreign business partners, also the EC Sales List (ZM) must complete. This is regularly submit quarterly, but may be voluntarily submitted monthly. Date is always the 25th of the following month in which the services are rendered. The ZM is to create exclusively for services and deliveries made within the EU. Background is that the counterparty has to pay tax on the services / goods in his country. To check whether this is effected taxation, it is necessary that the CM is made. The following designations apply:

 Intra-Community supply ( supply of goods ) No classification / 0

 Intra-Community service (services) identification 1

 triangular trade mark 2

Supplies and services to individuals, to companies or persons in third countries, as well as other exceptions to the general rule, are not specified in the ZM.

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