Purchase of goods between two member countries of the European Union

What is an intra-community acquisition ?

An intra-community acquisition (ICA) is a purchase of goods between companies liable to VAT located in different countries within the European Union (EU).

It is the opposite of an intra-community supply which consists, for a professional, of selling and shipping goods to a country located in another country of the European Union.

The characteristics of an intra-community acquisition

  • Like an intra-community supply, an intra-community acquisition is subject to Value Added Tax (VAT).
  • In accordance with the European rules shared by all the member states of the EU, an intra-community acquisition is subject to VAT according to the rules of the country where the goods are acquired.
  • This rule applies regardless of the EU countries in question. Therefore, goods purchased by a French company in a third country which is member of the European Union is subject to VAT applied in France.

Examples and application

The intra-community acquisition process

Specifically, goods purchased as part of an intra-community acquisition are invoiced net of tax by the sending company.

After receiving the goods, it is the recipient company that declares and pays the VAT in its own country. For a purchase of goods made by a company in France, the VAT rate applied follows French rules.

How do you declare VAT for an intra-community acquisition ?

In France, the VAT due for an intra-community acquisition is declared by the company at the same time as the VAT collected for its activities. This is done using the standard CA3 declaration form.

We talk about reverse charging when the company buying the goods is able to deduct the tax due for intra-community acquisitions from the amount of VAT collected. VAT on acquired goods is then due on the 15th of the month following the delivery date.

The conditions for reclaiming VAT for an intra-community acquisition

To deduct the amount of VAT due for an intra-community acquisition, the company making the purchase and the seller must have an intra-community VAT number.

This unique reference must be acquired before any trading takes place between two companies. The intra-community VAT number of the seller and that of the buyer must appear on the invoice and the VAT declaration completed by the acquiring company.

Those without an intra-community VAT number include people benefitting from an advantageous tax regime such as micro-entrepreneurs or farmers with flat-rate reimbursement of their goods at the VAT rate applicable in the country of departure of the goods.


Focus on the intra-community VAT number

The intra-community VAT number is a unique identifier. In France, it is allocated by the Directorate General for Taxes. This reference comprises a prefix indicating the country (FR for France), a two-digit access key and the company's SIREN number.


In addition to the payment of VAT, a trade of goods declaration is to be filed by companies having carried out more than 460 000 euros of intra-community acquisitions or intra-community deliveries during the previous calendar year.

Intra-Community acquisitions in figures

Intra-community acquisition concerns the 27 member countries of the European Union: Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden.

Regulatory framework

  • Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax
  • French General Tax Code: articles 258-259 D
  • French General Tax Code: articles 298 bis F-298 bis H

French General Tax Code, annex 3: article 95 D