This week: construction work in France.
Question: Our company is active in the construction sector and was requested to carry out construction work in France. Does our company need to apply for a French VAT number and submit periodic VAT returns in France for this work?
Answer: In principle, French VAT is payable on construction work performed on French territory. After all, the place of service is where the real estate or construction site is located, in this case France.
VAT liability, however, depends on the status of the customer for whom the construction work is delivered.
If the customer is a private individual, the foreign company will need to register for VAT purposes in France, charge its own French VAT and subsequently transfer this to the French tax authorities.
If the customer is a company that is not registered for VAT purposes in France, the VAT will also remain payable by the foreign service provider who must apply for a French VAT number.
However, if the customer is a French company that submits periodic returns (B2B), the foreign company need not apply for a French VAT number. In this case, the VAT can be transferred to the French VAT-liable customer and the French contracting party must transfer the French VAT to the VAT administration.
We base our advice on current legislation, interpretations and legal doctrine. This does not prevent the administration from being able to challenge it or to change existing interpretations.