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Can I invoice a client without having a VAT number?

You want to send an invoice but you don't have a VAT number

There can be several reasons why you ask this question.

You have requested a VAT number but it hasn't been granted yet

After you started your business you registered with the tax authorities and requested a VAT number. Now it seems you have completed your work before you have received the VAT number. You can only send an invoice if it contains a valid VAT number. This is one of the invoice requirements . A client who receives an invoice on which VAT is calculated while it doesn't contain a VAT number can't claim back the VAT from the tax authorities and will therefore not be willing to pay your invoice.

You have the following options:

  1. You wait with your invoice till you have a VAT number.
  2. If you have a one man business you can derive your VAT number from your BSN. The VAT number starts with the country code NL, followed by your BSN and ending with the code B01. For example: NL111122333B01. Be aware though that if your client verifies the number the verification system will state that the number is not valid. 
  3. You agree with your client that you receive an advance payment for the invoice amount without VAT. This totally depends on the cooperation of your client, he is not obliged to cooperate since there is no valid invoice.

You only provide a service incidentally as a freelancer
Incidental or once only services do not lead to entrepreneurship (in principle). There should be a lasting participation in the economic environment. If you provice a service only once, you don't need a VAT number and you can invoice without VAT. However, if you start to provide the service more often you will have to register with the tax authorities. Where you will find the line is not always clear. But if you provide a service more than once, to different clients, you will normally have to register.
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Comments (2)
Comment by Maria W. on Wed, Mar 8th, 2017 at 1:02 PM
Good day, I have a related question - I provided a once-only research assistance service in February. Now I want to invoice the professor/institute, but I am having trouble finding the regulations on this issue! Do I need to charge VAT? Does research assistance fall under the education tax exemption? Hoping to find some answers here, calling the belastingsdienst was not really helpful. Kind regards, Maria
Comment by Arjan Enneman on Tue, Sep 26th, 2017 at 1:57 PM
If it was a once only service then it is not necessary to charge VAT in my opinion, assuming that you didn‘t offer other or similar services to other clients. I don‘t expect that research assistance falls under the education exemption.
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