Anything surrounding taxes or fees with international shipping can be intimidating. Knowing all the requirements will take some research. While you can do research on your own, due to the nuances of tax law it is highly advisable to speak with a legal or tax professional. This guide will provide you with some very general advice surrounding Tax Identification Numbers or TINs as well as how to add TINs to your shipping documents.
This Guide is Not Legal Advice
This article is only a guide and not a substitute for legal advice. Please consult a tax expert to determine what is best for your business.
The basic use of a TIN is to quickly identify your business and track its related tax activities. Within the United States, you may be familiar with the Employer Identification Number (EIN) that appear on your tax forms.
If you are shipping to other countries, particularly in Europe, your business will require another type of TIN. Some of the more common ones are Value Added Tax (VAT) , Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) and Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI).
VAT: Value Added Tax Number is required for doing business in several European countries. You may need more than one VAT Number based on the countries in which you do business.
EORI: A unique number used by customs and other authorities to monitor and track shipments coming into and out of the European Union.
IOSS: An online portal to help businesses pay their VAT called the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS). Businesses must register to use this service and they are provided a number for it.
Which TIN should I use?
The appropriate Tax Identification Number for your business is dependent on several factors. The major factors are where your goods ship from, the destination country, and what goods you sell.
You can check the embassy or government website for the destination country to find out which tax numbers they require for imports. Ultimately, this would be a conversation to have with a tax expert.
How do I get one?
Each TIN has a set of requirements to meet before you apply for one. Many countries will list the requirements and methods of application on their government website. In many cases, you will fill out an online form.
If you are not comfortable with doing this on your own, ShipStation partners with several accounting companies that can help set up your business with the appropriate Tax Identification Number. See our Getting Help section at the end of this guide for more information.
How many TINs can I have?
You can have multiple Tax Identification Numbers associated with your business especially if you ship to multiple countries.
Can I ship internationally without a TIN?
Any shipment that is subject to taxes and duties will need one. Failure to include a TIN number on your shipments may result in fines, delays or returns.
However, not all countries require VAT or duties, so the requirements may vary. Consult government websites for the destination country or talk with a tax expert to confirm if you need a specific TIN.
Tax Identification numbers are required on a label or customs form. Before you can add a TIN to your shipments, you’ll need to add it to your ShipStation account.
Once you have added your TIN to your account settings, you can apply them to your customs declarations from the Order Details.
Your Tax IDs will also appear in the Customs Declarations section of your Shipment Details after the label has been created:
Automate Adding TIN to Customs
ShipStation has updated Automation Rules to include the action to add a TIN to an order based on any criteria. This Automation Rule Example demonstrates how to set it up.
ShipStation works with several partners to help our users navigate the nuances of taxes, tariffs and fees associated with international shipping.
Visit the ERP and Accounting section of our Partners Page to partner with tax experts like Avalara and VATglobal for your international tax needs.
Embassy sites, your carrier, and tax experts like Avalara are also good resources for more detailed information about Tax Identification Numbers and what’s best for your business.