This page aims to guide suppliers/providers subject to VAT as to the different VAT schemes applicable to purchases made by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.
The purchase of goods and services made by the External Offices of the Council of Europe or in another country are considered on a case by case basis.
Suppliers/providers who are not subject to VAT and who will present an invoice exclusive of VAT are not concerned by this page.
The Council of Europe is an international organisation whose headquarters are in Strasbourg, France. It was set up by the Statute of the Council of Europe signed on 5 May 1949 in London, United Kingdom. It is governed by this Statute and various agreements, statutory resolutions and other texts pertaining thereto, which provide, inter alia, for the Organisation’s privileges and immunities. It is registered in France under the SIRET number 778 860 080 00010 APE990Z.
As an international organisation, the Council of Europe does not possess an intra community VAT number.
It must be considered as a final consumer who bears VAT. It does not operate as an entity subject to VAT which collects VAT or to the reverse charge. Transactions with the Council of Europe are considered as “B” to “C”, Business to Consumer.
In submitting their offer, candidates/bidders should always consider the exemption status of their client (the Council of Europe) and the nature of the sale, and identify the place of taxation (territoriality).
In general, the Council of Europe:
- pays the VAT on goods and services bought in France or taxable in France - on presentation of an invoice prepared in line with EU rules (see “Compulsory elements to indicate on the invoice”)
- does not pay the VAT but provides in its place a VAT exemption certificate (Article 151 – Directive 2006/112/CE) for goods and services purchased or taxable in the European Union (Excluding France and Online Purchases).
This certificate must be requested by the Organisation from the French Administration before the final signature of the contract, on presentation of a pro forma invoice exclusive of tax (if in doubt as to the conformity of this pro forma invoice the supplier/provider should contact the Organisation). The Council of Europe cannot however guarantee the awarding of the certificate because the certificate is issued by the French Administration at the request of the Council. If the certificate is not awarded, the goods or services will have to be invoiced tax inclusive.
The certificate should be retained by the accounting service of the supplier/provider and presented to the fiscal authorities to justify the tax exclusive invoicing.
Note: For suppliers/providers from the European Union other than France: certain purchases/services aimed at the collective or individual satisfaction of personal needs cannot benefit from an exemption certificate and must be invoiced tax inclusive. In such case the supplier/provider should contact the Organisation.
The general principle of the place of taxation is that of the establishment of the provider who will invoice the VAT for which he is liable. Several exceptions exist however. In particular for online services and sales of goods, it is necessary to clearly define the offer in order to decide if a particular provision is applicable (see useful links).
For the purchase of goods and services taxable in France, the supplier/provider should clearly indicate his French intra community VAT number on his offer and on the invoice.
For non-French candidates/bidders that do not have such a number, it can be obtained by registering at the Directorate for non-resident tax (DINR), 10, rue du Centre, TSA 2011, 93465 Noisy-le Grand CEDEX France - or to opt for the alternative system called "One Shop Stop" (OSS) (see link).
In the case of the procurement of services or goods provided by electronic means (online services), as well as for services of telecommunication, and radio and television broadcasting, the candidates/bidders should clearly indicate their French intra community VAT number on their offer and on the invoice, or, if they do not have one, they should register with the VAT “one-stop-shop” (OSS) of their choice (see Useful links).
Candidates/bidders established in countries other than France should include in their selling price all costs (insurance, transport etc.) incurred up to place of delivery according to the incoterm 2020 “DAP – Strasbourg Council of Europe”. They should clearly indicate the customs reference code (HS code) of the merchandise and whether it is subject to a veterinary, environmental or other control.
Apart from certain exception, the merchandise will be shipped to our doors under the T1 transit document.
Apart from certain exception, the Council of Europe will itself deal with the importation formalities into France on the basis of a diplomatic exemption.
This diplomatic exemption must be requested by the Organisation from the French Administration before final signature of the contract and on presentation of a pro forma invoice exclusive of tax.
IMPORTANT: The following examples, for which the invoicing of VAT varies according to the place of taxation, are given for information purposes only. In all cases it is necessary to confirm with the Organisation which rule should be applied.
In general, invoices drawn-up tax inclusive (French VAT) concern the following purchases/services:
- Purchase of physical goods delivered from France;
- Distance sales of goods (online purchases)
- Services linked to the buildings of the Organisation in France, such as architectural works;
- Works and expertise on tangible property physically carried out in France, such as repairs;
- Services linked to cultural, scientific and educational activities undertaken in France, such as training;
- Telecommunications, radio and television broadcasting, or services provided by electronic means etc.
In general, invoices drawn up without tax concern the following purchases/services:
- Purchase of physical goods such as furniture, paper, books and publications, pharmaceutical products, IT equipment etc., delivered from a country of the European Union other than France and distance sales;
- The rental of tangible property other than means of transport, such as the rental of rooms and technical equipment;
- Services of publicity and promotion such as publicity campaigns and announcements;
- Advisory services and studies such as consultancy and expertise;
- Services of data processing such as translations etc.
Compulsory elements to indicate on invoices
- For taxation in France: in addition to other compulsory information, invoices must show the amount before tax, the rate and amount of the VAT and the amount after tax.
- For taxation in France for goods and services provided by electronic means (distance sales): in addition to other compulsory information, invoices must show the amount before tax, the rate and amount of tax followed by the phrase “French VAT”, and the amount after tax and the phrase “French VAT received and paid over to the one-stop-shop from [country]”.
- For taxation in an EU country other than France: invoices must show the amount before tax and the phrase “Intra community purchase/service to an exempted organisation: Articles 143 and 151 of Directive 2006/112/CE”. If VAT is mentioned, the VAT rate and amount of the VAT should be shown as “0” (See useful links).
It is strongly recommended to consult the additional information on the following internet sites:
- General Agreement on privileges and immunities of the Council of Europe (Paris, 2.IX.1949) - Article 7 (Treaty n° 2)
- Council Directive 2006/112/CE of the Council of 28 November 2006 concerning the common system of Value Added Tax (article 151)
- Council Directive 2008/118/EC of 16 December 2008 concerning the general arrangements for excise duty
- Taxation and Customs Union for businesses (site of the European Commission)
- VAT Helpdesk (site of the European Commission)
- Modernising VAT for cross-border e-commerce and the new OSS Schemes (site of the European Commission)
- Guide to the Mini one-stop-shop for VAT (MOSS)
- Information for foreign businesses on the site of the Directorate for non-resident tax (DINR – former DRESG)
- EU Rules on VAT invoicing