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How to record the sale of services to businesses based outside the UK

This article explains how UK VAT-registered businesses should record the sale of services to businesses based anywhere outside the UK from 1st January 2021.

To record the sale of services to a business based in an EU country where the sale was dated on or before the end of the Brexit transition period on 31st December 2020, please follow the guidance in this article.

Please note that it’s important to follow HMRC’s guidance when recording the sale of services to businesses based outside the UK in order to prepare your VAT returns correctly. If you’re unsure how to record these, please speak to your accountant.

For information on how to record the sale of goods to businesses based outside the UK from 1st January 2021, please see this article.

Enabling VAT rates for trade outside the UK

Before you can record sales transactions with overseas businesses in FreeAgent, you will need to enable VAT rates for trade outside of the UK.

To do this, select ‘Settings’ from the drop-down menu at the top-right of the screen and select ‘VAT Registration’.

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On the ‘UK VAT Registration’ page, scroll down to the ‘VAT settings’ section and select ‘Yes’ in response to the question ‘Do you need to use VAT rates other than standard UK ones?’. Select ‘Save Changes’ at the bottom of the screen to complete the process.

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Recording the sale of services to businesses outside the UK

If you supply services to businesses outside the UK, record the sale by either explaining a bank transaction as a ‘Sale’ or creating an invoice. Please note that doing both will result in your income being double-counted.

Explaining a bank transaction

If you’re explaining a bank transaction instead of creating an invoice, navigate to the 'Banking' tab at the top of the screen and select 'Bank Accounts' from the drop-down menu.

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Choose the relevant bank account from the list.

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Select the transaction that relates to the sale and select ‘More Options’.

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Businesses based in England, Scotland or Wales

If your business is based in England, Scotland or Wales, select ‘Sales’ from the ‘Type’ drop-down menu. If your business is based in Northern Ireland, please see the section below.

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Select ‘Reverse Charge’ from the ‘VAT Options’ and ‘Out of Scope’ from the ‘VAT’ drop-down menu. This is because your customer will need to account for VAT under the reverse charge process. Please note that you won’t see these options if the bank transaction is dated before 1st January 2021.

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Select ‘Create New Explanation’ at the bottom of the screen to complete the process.

Businesses based in Northern Ireland

If your business is based in Northern Ireland, select ‘Sales’ from the ‘Type’ drop-down menu.

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Select ‘EC Services’ from the ‘EC Status’ options if your customer is in the EU, otherwise select ‘UK/Non-EC’. Then, select the appropriate rate of VAT from the ‘VAT’ drop-down menu. If you’re unsure which VAT option and rate to select, please ask your accountant.

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Select ‘Create New Explanation’ at the bottom of the screen to complete the process.

A record of the bank transaction being explained will appear in your Audit Trail report.

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Creating an invoice

If you’re creating an invoice instead of explaining a bank transaction, you will need to adjust the VAT settings of each of your relevant contacts in FreeAgent before creating the invoice.

Edit contact VAT settings

To do this, navigate to the ‘Contacts’ tab at the top of the screen and select ‘Edit’ next to the relevant contact.

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Make sure that the address of the contact is outside the UK and then choose ‘Never’ from the ‘Charge VAT’ drop-down menu in the ‘Invoicing Options’ area.

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Select ‘Save Changes’ at the bottom of the screen to complete the process. For more information on how to edit a contact’s VAT settings, please see this article.

Create the invoice

Then, navigate to the ‘Work’ tab at the top of the screen and select ‘Invoicing’ from the drop-down menu.

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Select ‘Add New Invoice’.

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Complete the relevant details for the invoice and select 'More Options' to expand the section and choose the relevant VAT option. If your business is based in England, Scotland or Wales, select ‘Reverse Charge’ from the ‘VAT Options’. Please note that you won’t see these options if the invoice is dated before 1st January 2021.

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If your business is based in Northern Ireland, select ‘EC Services’ from the ‘EC Status’ options if your customer is in the EU, you want the reverse charge wording to appear on your invoice, and you want this invoice to appear on your EC Sales List. Otherwise, select ‘UK / Non-EC’ and edit the invoice to add any extra text that you need to include.

If you’re unsure which VAT option to select, please ask your accountant.

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Once you’ve selected the relevant option, select ‘Create New Invoice’ to complete the process. For more information on how to create an invoice, please see this article.

A record of the invoice being created will appear in your Audit Trail report.

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