Apple Developer Programs and VAT

Recently I have been moaning on Twitter about the way Apple handles VAT on business software & service purchases. Now I have some answers.

First, a little background. If you are a VAT registered company in the UK and you purchase software or services from the EU then you do not have to pay that country’s VAT on the purchase as long as you supply your VAT number. The supplying company can remove the VAT from the purchase. This is great. You do not have to worry about dealing with another country’s VAT system, or pay a higher price for a product just because it is outside of your country’s VAT scope. I believe this is an EU wide system.

Most companies, big or small automatically remove the VAT once you enter your business’ VAT number.

Apple do not.

When you purchase your developer renewal for £60 it includes Irish VAT at 23%. The small print at the bottom of the page tells you this:

The VAT rate for Electronic Software Downloads or other Apple products classified as services under EU VAT law will be 23% as VAT is charged at the rate payable in the country where Apple Distribution International supplies such products, which is the Republic of Ireland.

You have an option to enter your VAT number, however the helpful little question mark by this tells you that it only adds the VAT number to your invoice it does not remove the VAT. Instead if you need to purchase without the VAT you have to ring 0800 048 0408. Ringing this number is pointless. No one has a clue about what you are asking. The voice recognition system is dire and rude, and will dump you in a random department. As an aside, you cannot purchase your developer renewal over the phone or from the business teams at Apple stores. No one has a clue about it.

After a few attempts I got lucky and got bumped up to a super helpful Tech Support manager. It was not his area, but he went out of his way to find a solution, and kept in touch to check that I had resolved my issue. Jason, you are awesome.

Jason’s sleuthing pointed me to the EU VAT department at Apple, who are contactable via email. One email later, I had a reply detailing the process Apple requires for VAT registered businesses not to pay Irish VAT.

And here it is:

When you enter your VAT number into the purchase page this will not automatically remove the VAT for you.

Each order is placed with VAT on the order, you can send in your request to have VAT removed by contacting frontline on 08456001683, email our team at or alternatively pay the net amount by wire transfer and this will put a hold on the order until VAT is removed once request for VAT removal is received.

When an order is placed with credit card we can remove the VAT after the item has shipped and refund the VAT back to the original credit card used if VAT validation has be successful.

So, the solution for Mac & iOS developer renewals is to:

  1. purchase the item with your credit/debit card as this is the only option available.
  2. email with your order number and invoice and ask for a refund.
  3. wait a few days, and you should get a confirmation of your submission, and later an amended invoice and a refund.

This process is far more hassle that is should be (it should be automatic), but now we now know how to claim the VAT back on software and service purchases.

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  1. Marcus
    August 27, 2014 at 13:34 #

    Awesome timing Robert. I am just going through this painful process now… Spent 90 mins on the phone on friday and like you was randomly diverted to 3 different departments, none of whom had the first idea what I was talking about. As you say, if they’re doing a B2B transaction (because I’ve submitted a UK VAT number), then they shouldn’t be charging Irish VAT in the first place rather than us having to jump through hoops.

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