• Service: Tax, Global Indirect Tax, Global Compliance Management Services
  • Type: Regulatory update
  • Date: 9/26/2013

Spain - Travel agent-related VAT includes sales to any customer 

September 26: The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued a judgment concluding that provisions of the special value added tax (VAT) program for travel agents are not limited to sales of travel services to travelers, but extend to sales to any customer.

The judgment is issued in multiple “combined cases”—C-189/11 Commission v. Spain, C-193/11 Commission v. Poland, C-236/11 Commission v. Italy, C-269/11 Commission v. Czech Republic, C-293/11 Commission v. Greece, C-296/11 Commission v. France, C-309/11 Commission v. Finland, and C-450/11 Commission v. Portugal


According to a CJEU release [PDF 212 KB], the European Commission (EC) brought a series of infringement proceedings against eight EU Member States* for their failure to comply with their obligations under the directive on the common VAT system. The actions relate to the special scheme for travel agents.

*Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain

The EC interpreted the provisions under the special VAT program for travel agents as applicable only to sales of travel services to travelers, and complained that all eight EU Member States authorized the application of those provisions to sales of travel services to any type of customer.

CJEU judgment

In its judgment, the CJEU found that provisions of the special VAT program for travel agents are not limited to sales of travel services to travelers and extend to sales to any customer.

Concerning Spanish VAT law, the CJEU concluded:

  • The Spanish law is incompatible with EU law, in so far as it excludes from the special regime sales of travel services organized by wholesale agents but carried out by retail agents.
  • The Spanish law is incompatible with the method of calculating VAT and with the rules in the directive relating to the right of deduction.
  • In the travel agency sector, the taxable amount must be determined by reference to each single service supplied by the travel agent, not on an overall basis.

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