Where to pay sales tax - UK Store

New Member
3 0 0

Hi all,

I am running my shopify store from the UK, however we ship to the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

I'm currently including VAT in the price of my product as I don't want the customer to be put off by extra fees in checkout.

By doing this, where and how do I need to pay sales taxes? Would it just be in the UK, and how do I calculate that.


Many thanks,

New Member
1 0 0

Hi @plumel ,


I guess you're selling physical products. In that case, you only need to charge UK VAT in your sales in the EU if you've registered for VAT in your country. Only when you surpass a distance-selling threshold in any EU country, you'll have to collect local taxes. You have more information about distance selling in the EU in this article.


So far you don't have to collect any sales tax in US, Canada or Australia if you don't have a permanent establishment (or warehouse) in those countries.


Cheers, Carlos

Community Manager
Community Manager
2412 163 356

Hi @plumel,


Nick here from Shopify. 


Really great question, taxes are often difficult to figure out even on the best of days. The first thing I will always recommend with questions like this is to visit your local tax office or a professional accountant. Someone in your local area would know the tax laws best for you. The main reason I am recommending this is that you need to decide whether you are obligated to charge sales taxes to your customers, to figure out whether your product is taxable, and whether you need to charge sales tax based on an origin basis or destination basis. These tax laws differ for every country and even regions within countries. 


Once you have visited a tax expert/ accountant you can look to apply your tax rates within Shopify. You can do this by going to Store Admin > Settings > Taxes > Tax Rates > Base Taxes. Here you will enter the rates that apply in the country and any regions you want to sell to. Shopify has a helpful guide going through all the steps you need to take for setting up sales taxes for countries based outside of the USA and Canada which you can see here


Something else I thought worth mentioning was tax overrides and exemptions. This enables you to override tax rates and control how much tax you would charge for a particular, product or collection. An example would be a VAT exemption in the UK. You can see more about tax overrides and exemptions from the Shopify help guide about it here


Hope this helps! 


All the best, Nick

Nick | Social Care @ Shopify
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21 0 9

Hi.  The first reply was essentially right.  You charge standard 20% UK VAT for any shipments going to the UK or any other EU country.  The only exception is if your sales to a particular EU country exceed a given threshold (€35,000 for some countries, €100,000 for most), at which point you have to register for VAT in that country and start charging that country’s VAT rate for shipments destined there.  In Shopify you just set tax as 20% for all EU countries.


For non-EU countries no VAT is chargeable, so you set tax as zero for rest of the world.  The only wrinkle is that if you have set your prices to include taxes, then non-EU customers will be charged the same VAT-inclusive price as UK/EU customers, even though VAT isn’t chargeable.  That means you get a higher margin for these sales, but customers in locations that have VAT-type taxes (eg Australia, Canada, Channel Islands) or foreign-based expats expect to have VAT taken off and resent effectively having to pay it as well as the local customs & tax charges on importing the shipment.  We - and many Shopify retailers - get around this by offering heavily subsidised shipping rates to compensate (we charge the same rate for overseas shipments as we do for EU).  It’s not very satisfactory though: we originally were on Magento which handles EU VAT rules properly, and we noticed a big drop-off in non-EU sales when we moved to Shopify. 

Shopify themselves make a big play about a workaround that allows you to charge ex-VAT prices to non-taxable customers. It involves unsetting “my prices include taxes” so that prices are entered ex-VAT and then modifying your theme so that those prices are displayed on the site with VAT included (which, incidentally, is a legal requirement for any consumer-targetted retailing, not just desirable). We have tried that but the problem they don’t mention is you get rounding errors: so, for example, two items at £5 and £11 inc VAT translate to £4.17 and £9.17 respectively ex- VAT, and the checkout then calculates the total inc VAT as £16.01 rather than the £16 the customer expects.  I have raised this with Shopify support, but they just keep pushing their solution. 


Hope this helps