Keeping international trade records

Published by:
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce Financing Desk, KVK
Netherlands Chamber of Commerce Financing Desk, KVK
Netherlands Tax Administration, Belastingdienst
Netherlands Tax Administration, Belastingdienst

When you do business abroad, you sometimes have to meet additional record keeping requirements. Your invoice is also often built up differently.

Why keep business records for your international trade?

Keeping business records is mandatory, so you can show which goods you have imported and exported, if the Netherlands Tax Administration (Belastingdienst) asks you for this. But you can also use it when applying for a loan, when preparing your tax returns and financial statements, and in reports for shareholders.

Doing business with other EU countries

If you deliver goods or services to another EU country, you must keep the same data as for your domestic sales. But in some cases, your administration must meet other requirements. You must always:

Please note that different rules apply for specific goods and in special situations (in Dutch).

Collect and keep proof

You must be able to prove that your customers are entrepreneurs who file for taxes in another EU country (in Dutch). Always keep:

Mandatory: send data to CBS when it is requested

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) publishes data on international trade in goods. If requested, you must provide CBS with your international trade data. You will receive a letter from CBS if you are obliged to submit data for this purpose.

Learn more about the International Trade in Goods (IHG) report. The page also explains how you can submit your data.

Keep EU and non-EU business separate

Do you do business in and outside the EU? Make a clear distinction between the two in your administration. Because there are different requirements for supplying goods and services inside and outside the EU. When importing from and exporting to countries outside the EU, your records must comply with the general administrative requirements (in Dutch), as well as additional obligations.

Invoicing when doing business with other EU countries

Your invoices must comply with various rules. This means, among other things, that in addition to the legally required data (in Dutch), you must also adhere to the storage period of invoices (in Dutch).

In addition to the normal requirements that your invoice must meet, please note the following:

  • Invoices to customers submitting VAT returns in other EU countries must contain your and your customer's VAT identification numbers. Ask your customer for the VAT identification number and always check it.
  • You usually invoice the delivery of goods with 0% VAT. That is why your invoice must contain an indication that you are applying the 0% rate correctly. State on the invoice (in any desired language): 'table II, part a, item 6, Law OB' 68 'or 'article 138, paragraph 1, Directive 2006/112 '. See the additional invoice requirements (in Dutch) for the delivery of goods.
  • If you provide services, you usually reverse-charge the VAT to your customer. Look at the additional invoice requirements (in Dutch) for the provision of services

Your administration when doing business outside the EU

When importing from and exporting to non-EU countries, your administration must meet the general administrative obligations and additional obligations (in Dutch). But there are also additional administrative obligations, when:

Importing from non-EU countries

When importing from non-EU countries you must keep other supporting documents in your administration, such as:

  • transport documents
  • receipts
  • correspondence
  • customs documents (such as the declaration and any permits)
  • (possibly) the invoice from the customs broker
  • an importer overview; this is an overview of customs that contains all your imports

Exporting to non-EU countries

When exporting to non-EU countries, you must be able to prove that the goods have left the EU. To do so, keep the following documents:

  • all customs documents that you receive from customs at the location where the goods leave the EU
  • a copy of the freight letter
  • invoice from the carrier
  • proof of import provided by the country of destination
  • correspondence with your foreign customer (such as a letter or email)
  • proof of the transport insurance
  • possibly a copy invoice signed by customs for export
  • any other documents relating to the export

Export of a boat or motor vehicle (car)

You need an additional statement when exporting a boat (in Dutch). When you export a motor vehicle (such as a car), you receive an export declaration.

Electronic invoices

EU countries have different requirements for electronic invoices. Are you looking for the national rules of another EU country? A good starting point for this is the Connecting Europe Facility website. When you do business with customers in non-EU countries, ask your business partner if you can send electronic invoices. You usually need to keep the same records as you would with domestic sales. If you apply the 0% VAT rate, you must be able to prove that your customer is an entrepreneur in the EU country where they are located. You can do this, for example, by checking the VAT identification number of your customer on the website of the European Commission. You must keep this information in your administration.

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Tax Administration, Belastingdienst