• Service: Tax, Global Indirect Tax
  • Type: Regulatory update
  • Date: 6/1/2013

Luxembourg: VAT essentials 

Essential information regarding VAT as it applies in Luxembourg.

Scope and Rates

What supplies are liable to VAT?

Value-added tax (VAT) is due on any supply of goods or services made in Luxembourg, where it is a taxable supply made by a taxable person in the course or furtherance of an economic activity. Supply includes all forms of supply. It is not restricted to the provision of goods and services by way of sale but can apply equally to other forms of transaction, including the leasing or hire of goods, the grant, assignment, or surrender of a right, an agreement not to carry out a business, or perform services.

Supply does not include anything done otherwise than for a consideration. However, certain actions carried out for no consideration are deemed to be supplies; for example private use of business assets and free gifts.

The following supplies are usually also subject to VAT:

  • Acquisition of goods in Luxembourg from a taxable person established in another EU Member State for consideration by a taxable person in the course of its economic activity or by a non-taxable legal person;
  • Importation of goods in Luxembourg.

What is the standard rate of VAT?

The Luxembourg standard rate of VAT is 15 percent.

Are there any reduced rates, zero rates, or exemptions?

Yes (please note that the lists set out below are non-exhaustive). There is an intermediary rate of 12 percent for certain goods and services, including:

  • certain wines
  • fuel other than gas and electricity (solid mineral fuels, mineral oils, and wood intended for use as fuel)
  • commercial printings, sales catalogues, tourist advertising brochures
  • custody services
  • heat, refrigeration, and steam excluding heat furnished by a heating system
  • management of credits and credit guarantees by a person or an institution other than those who are granting the credits.

In addition, there is a reduced rate of 6 percent for certain goods and services, including:

  • electricity
  • gas
  • heat furnished by a heating system
  • wood for heating
  • plants
  • repairs on items such as bikes, shoes, leather articles, etc
  • hairdressing
    • alterations to clothes and household linen cleaning of private housing

There is a super-reduced rate of 3 percent for certain goods and services, including:

  • human and animal food excluding alcohol drinks
  • (e-)Books (excluding advertising and pornographic content), newspapers, and periodicals; application of super-reduced rate to e-Books is currently granted but subject to discussion
  • children's shoes and clothing
  • passenger transport
  • hotel accommodation
  • certain sporting and cultural services
  • burial and cremation
  • therapeutic instruments and medical equipments for disabled persons
  • certain pharmaceutical products
  • restaurant operations consisting in supply of foods and drinks to be consumed on the spot
  • collection and processing of domestic waste
  • copyrights
  • construction and renovation costs for personal dwellings (under certain conditions)
  • distribution of water
  • reception of radio and television broadcasting services other than those whose content is exclusively addressed to adults regardless of the electronic communication network used (since 1 January 2008).

The list of zero-rate supplies includes:

  • export of goods
  • intra-community supplies of goods
  • supplies of goods and services used by airlines operating for reward chiefly on international routes
  • services supplied for the needs of seagoing vessels
  • goods and services supplied under diplomatic and consular arrangements, and to recognized international organizations
  • international passenger transport.

The list of exemptions includes:

  • certain banking and financial services
  • management of investments funds, SICAR, some pension funds, alternative investment funds (as of July 2013) and securitization vehicles under specific conditions
  • insurance and reinsurance services
  • supply and letting of immovable property (there is an option to tax under certain conditions)
  • postal services
  • betting, games of chance, and lotteries
  • education
  • certain medical supplies.

It is in principle not possible to recover VAT incurred in making exempt supplies. However, in some particular circumstances, a recovery right might exist despite the existence of a Luxembourg VAT exemption.

What are the other local indirect taxes beside VAT?

Excise duties, stamp duties, customs duties.



Who is required to register for Luxembourg VAT?

Luxembourg Entities

Any person established in Luxembourg who independently carries out any economic activity is deemed to be a taxable person for VAT purposes and, in principle, should be registered for VAT purposes in Luxembourg within 15 days of the effective start of the activity. A person only performing VAT exempt activities may be relieved from the required VAT registration in Luxembourg, unless it is liable to self-account for, declare and pay (without VAT recovery) Luxembourg VAT on services received from abroad falling within the scope of the reverse charge mechanism and/or performs intra-Community acquisitions of goods above the threshold of EUR 10,000 per year.

Non-Luxembourg Entities

The registration rules that apply to Luxembourg entities also apply to non-Luxembourg entities which are making taxable supplies in Luxembourg. However, there is no minimum VAT registration threshold for businesses not established in Luxembourg.

If a business sells and delivers goods from another European Union (EU) Member State to customers in Luxembourg who are not VAT registered (distance sales), where the value of those sales exceeds a threshold of EUR 100,000, it is required to register and account for VAT in Luxembourg.

If a business is established outside the EU and renders electronically supplied services to customers in Luxembourg who are not VAT registered, then the place of supply is in principle Luxembourg as the place where the effective use and enjoyment takes place. Business will then have to register for Luxembourg VAT. If, however, it supplies the same services to customers in other EU Member States as well, it can opt to register for VAT in one Member State rather than all of them. In this case, the business must still account for VAT on supplies at the rate prevailing in the country of its customer, but it must only deal with one Member State for filing and payment purposes (so called “One Stop Shop”).

The above list is not exhaustive. VAT registration is required also in several other situations.

Access the VAT registration forms (“formulaires”) on the Luxembourg tax authority’s web site:

Are there penalties for not registering or late registration?

Failure to register for VAT promptly (in principle within 15 days of the beginning of the taxable activity) may result in a penalty of between EUR 50 – EUR 5,000. Please note that this penalty shall apply not only to failures to register but to any other infringement of Luxembourg VAT requirements. Besides, absence or late payment of the VAT due may give rise to an additional penalty amounting to 10 percent of the entire VAT due.

Moreover, notwithstanding penal sanctions, any person who has fraudulently tried to avoid the payment of VAT or has illegitimately recovered VAT is punishable by a penalty of 10 percent of the sum of the evaded VAT.

Is voluntary VAT registration possible for an overseas company?


Are there any simplifications that could avoid the need for an overseas company to register for VAT?

A VAT registration is not required in the case of certain supplies.

In the following examples the obligation to account for the VAT due can be shifted to the customer provided that the latter is registered for Luxembourg VAT.


If a business is an intermediate supplier to a Luxembourg buyer of goods which it purchases from a business registered for VAT in another EU Member State and the goods are delivered directly from there to Luxembourg, VAT due can be accounted for by Luxembourg customer (see also section “What rules must be complied with in order for triangulation simplification to be applied?”).


Taxable persons performing imports of goods in Luxembourg and subsequent sales/processing which are neither established nor registered for VAT purposes in Luxembourg can opt to appoint a VAT representative in Luxembourg.

Call-Off Stock

No simplification provisions apply.

Capital Items

The sale of capital items is not included in the calculation of turnover for Luxembourg VAT registration purposes.

Supply and Install

No simplification provisions apply.

Reverse Charge Services

The supply of services by a foreign supplier to a Luxembourg taxable person falls under the reverse charge mechanism which is covered in more detail in the section “International Supplies of Goods and Services”.

Does an overseas company need to appoint a fiscal representative?

See above under “ Imports”.


VAT grouping

Is VAT grouping possible?

No. Luxembourg has not implemented the voluntary provision in Article 11 of the Council Directive 2006/112/EC.

Luxembourg VAT Law does, however, provide for a VAT exemption for cost-sharing associations/independent group of persons (in Luxembourg also known as "associations de fait" or "ARGE") as foreseen in article 132, 1 (f) of the Council Directive 2006/112/EC; article 44, 1 y) VATL. This VAT exemption may apply if various criteria are met. Note that the members of the cost-sharing association do not become a single taxable person, so charges between them may not be disregarded.

Can an overseas company be included in a VAT group?




How frequently are VAT returns submitted?

Most registered businesses are required to submit VAT returns on a monthly basis. However, if the annual turnover is between EUR 112'000.01 and EUR 620'000.00 VAT returns have to be submitted on a quarterly basis. If the annual turnover does not exceed EUR 112'000, the VAT returns must be submitted on an annual basis only.

In addition, all businesses which are required to submit VAT returns on a monthly or quarterly basis, must submit an annual summary VAT return as well.

Failure to submit VAT returns or settle any outstanding VAT debts on time may result in a penalty which ranges between EUR 50 to EUR 5'000. Moreover, late payment or failure to pay VAT due may be subject to late payment interests.

Are there any other returns that need to be submitted?

European Sales Lists (ESL) for goods and/or services

If a business supplies goods which are shipped from Luxembourg to VAT registered businesses in other EU Member States and wants to zero rate the supply (see section International Supplies of Goods and Services) it is required to file ESLs.

In principle, ESL for goods must be submitted on a monthly basis, although quarterly submissions is allowed, if the total amount of intra-Community deliveries of goods does not exceed EUR 50'000 during the quarter concerned or in respect of the four previous quarters. If the EUR 50'000 threshold is exceeded in a single quarter, the taxable person is automatically required to submit listings on a monthly basis for the remaining months of the quarter and for at least the four following quarters.

ESLs are also mandatory for the supply of services which are rendered by Luxembourg taxable persons to VAT registered business customers established in other EU Member States and which are not VAT exempt in those Member States. The taxable person can make submissions on a monthly or quarterly basis (no threshold). The frequency for ESL for services is not linked to the period for filing ESL for goods.

In case of monthly submissions for goods and services, the ESL must be submitted electronically. For quarterly submissions, the ESL can be submitted either on paper format or electronically. The deadline for filing the listings is the 15th day of the month following the reporting period if the listing is submitted in paper format and the 25th day of the month following the reporting period if filed electronically.

Intrastat Declarations

VAT registered businesses with a value of dispatches or arrivals to or from other EU Member States, which exceed a threshold (EUR 150'000 per calendar year for the dispatches, EUR 200'000 per calendar year for the acquisitions) must complete Intrastat declarations each month.

The late submission of Intrastat returns may result in a penalty ranging between EUR 251 and EUR 2'500.

Access Intrastat returns on the Department of Statistics web site.

If a business receives a purchase invoice in foreign currency, which exchange rate should be used for VAT reporting purposes? (e.g. central bank’s exchange rate applicable on the date of the invoice)

Pursuant to article 37 VATL, the exchange rate applicable should be the last exchange rate as admitted by the Luxembourg Central Bank or other accredited banks based on the rates set out by the European Central Bank at the time the VAT is due.


VAT recovery

Can a business recover VAT if it is not registered?

Yes. Businesses established in other EU Member State can make a claim under Directive 2008/9/EEC of 12 February 2008 (8th Directive). Non-EU business should recover the VAT under Directive 86/560/EEC (13th Directive).

Under both of these provisions, there are strict time limits and minimum thresholds for making claims. Under the 8th Directive, the claim period must not be longer than one calendar year but must cover at least three months, unless it relates to the end of a calendar year. Claims for less than a full year but more than 3 months must be for at least EUR 400. Annual claims or claims in respect of the last part of the year must be for at least EUR 50. Under the 13th Directive, the claim period must cover the calendar year and must be for at least EUR 250.

Please note that a 13th Directive reclaim of Luxembourg VAT should be filed in Luxembourg (i.e. irrespective of the non-EU country in which claimant is established). Reclaims of Luxembourg VAT based on the 8th Directive should be filed in the country where the claimant is established.

This request has to be made electronically through Luxembourg VAT authority’s web portal.

The deadline to submit the claims is 30 June of the following year for 13th Directive claims whereas it is 30 September for claims based on the 8th Directive.

Does your country apply reciprocity rules for reclaims submitted by non-established businesses?


Are there any items that businesses cannot recover VAT on?

Yes. There are certain items that businesses cannot recover VAT on. For example:

  • Exempt supplies:where VAT relates to both taxable and exempt supplies without credit, businesses need to make an apportionment.
  • Non-business (including private) activities: where VAT relates to both business and non-business activities, an apportionment is required.
  • Motor cars (excluding commercial vehicles): where cars are used for business and private purposes, related input VAT is in principle recoverable but output VAT is due on private use determined according to effective use, lump-sum computation is also allowed according to current practice.
  • Business entertainment: VAT on expenses that do not strictly qualify as business expenses, such as luxury or entertainment expenses may not be recovered.
  • Purchases falling within the Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme: the VAT on goods and services which fall under this scheme cannot be reclaimed.
  • Goods sold under one of the margin schemes for second hand goods: there are a number of schemes which provide for VAT to be accounted for on the goods’ sales margin, but do not allow VAT recovery on the purchase of those goods.


International Supplies of Goods and Services

How are exports of goods and services treated?


If a business sells goods to a customer who is registered for VAT in another EU Member State and the sale involves the dispatch or transport of those goods from Luxembourg (either by the business or its customer) to that other EU Member State, then the supply is zero rated as an intra-Community supply of goods. Businesses must obtain their customer's VAT number and quote it on the invoice. It should also obtain evidence of the goods' removal from Luxembourg.

If a business sells goods to a customer who is not registered for VAT in another EU Member State, it must charge Luxembourg VAT. If the sales exceed a certain threshold for that Member State it may have to register in the Member State under what is known as the Distance Selling Scheme.

If a business exports goods to a customer (business or private) outside of the EU, the supply is zero-rated. Similarly as for intra-Community supplies, it should make sure in all cases to keep proof of the dispatch/delivery to support the zero rating. It should be noted that the application of zero-rate is subject to conditions


In the case of a Luxembourg established business suppling services to a foreign business customer (B2B), in general the supply of services is taxable in the country of the recipient under the reverse charge mechanism. If the company supplies services to a private consumer (B2C), the services are in general taxable in the country of the supplier and therefore subject to Luxembourg VAT.

The following exceptions apply to the B2B and B2C main rules as described above:

  • services involving real estate: taxable in the country where the real estate is located
  • restaurant and catering services: taxable in the country where these services are performed. Other rules apply if these services are performed on board a ship, aircraft, or train
  • passenger transport: taxable in the country/countries where the transport services are actually performed
  • services with regard to the admission to cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, educational, entertainment and similar activities, along with the ancillary services supplied to a consumer: taxable where those activities are physically carried out
  • short term hiring of transportation vehicles : taxable in the country where the vehicle is actually put at the disposal of the customer

Furthermore, additional exceptions apply to the B2C main rules as described above:

  • intermediary services : taxable in the country where the underlying transaction is taxable
  • intra-Community transport of goods : taxable in the country of departure. For other than intra-Community transport of goods, the place of service is the place where the transportation is actually performed.
  • transportation-related services : taxable in the country where the services are physically carried out
  • services relating to cultural, artistic, sporting, scientific, educational, entertainment and similar activities : taxable at the place where those activities actually take place
  • work on movable tangible goods : taxable in the country where the activities are actually carried out
  • hiring – other than short term hiring of transportation vehicles : taxable in the country where the consumer is established : exception for long-term hiring of a pleasure boat
  • services performed electronically by a VAT entrepreneur not established in the EU to non-taxable customers : taxable in the country where the customer of the service is located
  • the supply of telecommunication, radio and television broadcastings services : taxable where the supplier is established, but subject to the use and enjoyment rules under certain conditions (as of 2015 these services will be taxable where they are effectively used and enjoyed; i.e. where the recipient of the services is located).

The supply of transport of goods as well as the ancillary services to the transport of goods, that would be located in Luxembourg by virtue of the general localization rule, should be deemed to be located outisde EU when the actual use and enjoyment of those services is outside the EU.

The following services performed for non-taxable customers that are established or resident outside the EU are taxable in the country where the customer is established:

  • the transfer of licenses and similar rights
  • advertising services
  • services performed by consultants, as well as data-processing and information-provision
  • services
  • the obligation to refrain, in whole or in part, from pursuing a business activity
  • banking and insurance services
  • supply of staff
  • hiring out of movable property, with the exception of means of transport
  • operating natural gas and electricity-distribution systems
  • telecommunications services
  • radio and television broadcast services and services performed electronically.

How are goods dealt with on importation?

When goods are imported into Luxembourg from outside the EU, import VAT and customs duty may be due.

VAT due on import might be physically paid upon import but in principle should be reported in the VAT return of the period.

How are services which are brought in from abroad treated for VAT purposes?

As of 1 January 2010, the reverse charge mechanism has become the general rule and applies to all services bought in from outside Luxembourg by a taxable person established in Luxembourg, except if an exception applies based on the nature of the services.

Under the reverse charge mechanism, companies are required to self-account for the Luxembourg VAT through the VAT returns, unless a VAT exemption applies.

If the taxpayer is entitled to fully recover input VAT, the reverse charged VAT should not constitute a cost, factor but merely a VAT compliance obligation. However, if the company’s activities are partly VAT exempt, VAT should partly constitute a cost (the amount of recoverable VAT depending on the recovery ratio allowed under the partial exemption method).



Is a business required to issue tax invoices?

Every taxable person shall ensure that, in respect of the following, an invoice is issued, either by himself or by his customer or, in his name and on his behalf, by a third party:

  • supplies of goods or services which he has made to another taxable person or to a non-taxable legal person, and that are not exempt by virtue of article 44 VATL
  • supplies of goods as referred to in Article 33 of Directive 2006/112/EC
  • supplies of goods carried out in accordance with the conditions specified in Article 138 of Directive 2006/112/EC
  • any payment on account made to him before one of the supplies of goods referred to in points (1), (2) and (3) was carried out
  • any payment on account made to him by another taxable person or non-taxable legal person before the provision of services was completed.

Generally, invoices for supplies with the place of supply in Luxembourg should be subject to Luxembourg invoicing requirements. However, there are exceptions to this rule.

What do businesses have to show on a tax invoice?

A tax invoice should contain the following data:

  • date of issue
  • a sequential invoice number. If the invoice adjusts an earlier invoice (such as a credit note), unambiguous reference should be made to the original invoice
  • supplier's VAT identification number
  • where the customer is liable to self-account for and pay the tax on goods supplied or services rendered, its VAT identification number under which these supplies were received (services supplied under the reverse charge mechanism, intra-Community deliveries of goods and triangular sales)
  • supplier's name and address
  • customer's name and address
  • the quantity and nature of the goods/services supplied
  • the date on which the supply of the goods or services was made or completed or the date on which an advance payment was made, insofar as that date can be determined and differs from the date of issue of the invoice
  • the taxable amount per rate or exemption
  • unit price (exclusive of VAT)
  • discounts (if not included in the unit price and if applicable)
  • the VAT rate applicable
  • the amount of VAT payable in Euro, except where a specific regime is applied and for which the VAT law excludes such a detail (examples include margin regime and special regime for small enterprises)
  • where an exemption is applicable, a clear reference to the appropriate provision of the EU VAT Directive, or to the corresponding provision in Luxembourg VAT law, or to any indication that the supply is exempt or subject to the reverse charge procedure
  • where the customer issues the invoice instead of the supplier, the invoice should state “Autofacturation” (reference can be based on another language version of Directive),
  • where the customer is liable to declare VAT, the invoice should state “Autoliquidation” (“reference can be based on another language version of Directive”)
  • where special regime applies, the invoice should contain respective reference; e.g. “Régime particuler – agences de voyages” (reference can be based on another language version of Directive)
  • where the fiscal representative is liable to declare VAT, the VAT identification number of the fiscal representative, his name and address
  • amounts appearing on invoices may be expressed in any currency provided that the amount of VAT payable is expressed in Euro
  • invoices may be drafted in any language. Note that a French or German translation may be required in case of audit.

Can a business issue invoices electronically?

Yes. However, this is conditional upon the customer’s approval.

Irrespective on whether the invoice is in paper form or electronic form, the authenticity of origin, the integrity of content and the legibility of invoice must be ensured from the moment the invoice is issued until the end of archiving period.

Each taxable person should determine the method for ensuring the authenticity of origin, integrity of content and legibility.

Is it possible to operate self-billing?


Can a business issue VAT invoices denominated in a foreign currency?

Yes provided that the VAT amount is also expressed in Euro by using the exchange rate method foreseen in article 37 VATL.


Transfers of Business

Is there a relief from VAT for the sale of a business as a going concern?

Yes. If a company sells its business as a going concern, then VAT may not be due. There are certain conditions to be met, for example the purchaser should intend to use the assets to carry on business.


Options to Tax

Are there any options to tax transactions?

There is an option to tax the supply and letting/leasing of immoveable property.

In order to apply VAT on the transactions, the supplier must meet certain conditions and complete certain formalities according to article 45 of the VAT Law and to the Grand Ducal Decree dated 7 March 1980.


Head Office and Branch transactions

How are transactions between head office and branch treated?

In general, supply of services between head office and a branch is disregarded for VAT purposes.


Bad Debt

Is a business able to claim relief for bad debts?

Businesses are able to claim back VAT on the unpaid element through their VAT return. If the taxpayers subsequently receive payment for the supply, they must pay back the VAT amount to the tax authorities in the same way (i.e. through the VAT return).



Is there a general anti-avoidance provision under VAT law?



Penalty Regime

What is the penalty and interest regime like?

Failures in relation to compliance obligations (such as, filing of VAT returns, issuing of invoices, keeping records, paying VAT, proper bookkeeping, registration, provision of information to the tax authorities, etc.) may result in a penalty of between EUR 50 to EUR 5,000 per infringement.

In cases of fraudulent activity, notwithstanding penal sanctions, a fine which could amount to 10 percent of the tax eluded could be applied.

In addition, late payment or failure to pay VAT due may be subject to a VAT fine for late payment that may not exceed 10 percent per year of the tax due.


Tax authorities

Tax audits

How often do tax audits take place?

The frequency of the VAT audits is not precised in the Luxembourg VAT law. In the past, VAT audits used to be performed by the Luxembourg VAT authorities every 3-4 years. However, based on the current trend, VAT audits become more and more frequent.

Furthermore, it should be noted that if a taxable person is in a VAT credit position in its annual VAT return, it can take up to 5 years for tax authorities to reimburse the input VAT (it is quite common that the tax authorities wait until they can asses 2 or 3 annual VAT returns in a row). Under certain conditions, it is possible to speed up the reimbursement of the input VAT (by asking for a reimbursement of the VAT). However, this approach increases the risk of questions raised by the VAT authorities.

Are there audits done electronically in your country (e-audit)? If so, what system is in use?

As from 2011, the standard electronic file, the “Fichier d'audit informatisé AED” ("FAIA"), was introduced in Luxembourg. FAIA will enable the Luxembourg VAT Authorities to perform faster and more efficient reviews of books and documents during VAT audits.

For the creation of FAIA, the VAT authorities have introduced an adapted version of the standard system proposed by the OECD, the SAF-T (Standard Audit File-Tax). FAIA is a standardized file that contains all information necessary for the performance of the VAT audit and may be processed by standardized VAT audit software.

FAIA is a structured XML format. There are numerous requirements regarding the structure of the file and the minimum of information the file has to contain. Above all, the file must contain general data about the company and about the software used, the general ledger (including a breakdown of transactions), information about the customers and the suppliers of the company as well as a VAT table and source documents (sales and purchase invoices and payment information).

In principle, as from 1 January 2011, the VAT authorities are entitled to request the transfer of electronic accounting data for the purpose of a VAT audit in compliance with the specifications of FAIA, from taxable persons using an electronic bookkeeping system, unless they are not covered by the FAIA obligation.

In a first step, FAIA will be mandatory for all taxable persons subject to the Standard Charts of Accounts (“SCA”) regulation. Taxable persons not subject to the SCA regulation are thus not required to comply with the new requirements.

Moreover, the following taxable persons, albeit subject to the SCA regulation, will be excluded from the obligation to provide "FAIA-compliant" electronic files to the VAT authorities:

  • taxable persons subject to the simplified VAT regime;
  • taxable persons whose annual turnover does not exceed EUR 112,000;
  • taxable persons whose number of accounting transactions is reasonable (+/- 500 transactions) and for whom a manual VAT control is more rational than the transmission of an electronic file.

In a second phase, FAIA will be mandatory for all taxable persons using an electronic bookkeeping system. A starting date for this second phase is yet to be specified by the VAT authorities.

Advance rulings and decisions from the tax authority

Is it possible to apply for formal or informal advance rulings from the (indirect) tax authority?

Taxable persons cannot apply for formal or informal advance rulings from the Luxembourg VAT authorities.

Are rulings and decisions issued by the tax authorities publicly available in your country?

Circulars reflecting the authorities’ approach on some topics are available on the website of the Luxembourg VAT authorities.



In your country, are there unique specific indirect tax rules (regimes) that differ from standard indirect tax rules in other jurisdictions?


Are there indirect tax incentives available in your country (e.g. reduced rates, tax holidays)?

  • since 1 January 2012, reduced rate are also applicable on e-books (3 percent)
  • creation of VAT free zones (provisional VAT exemption for eligible goods under the regime).

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