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Errors with VAT number validation

The Easy Digital Downloads EU VAT plugin integrates with the third party VIES database to validate customers' VAT numbers, and the UK's own VAT number database.

These database are not always completely reliable and may occasionally have downtime or timeouts. Unfortunately there's nothing we can do about this because they are the official VAT databases for the European Union and United Kingdom and are necessary for validating customers' VAT numbers.

Most of the errors with these databases that may occur on the Easy Digital Downloads checkout are self-explanatory, so your customers will understand what is happening and that they need to try again later.


This error means that the allowed maximum number of concurrent requests to the VIES database has been reached. The solution is to simply try again at a later time.

If there's an error, can I allow customers to reverse charge their VAT anyway?

People sometimes ask for the plugin to ignore errors connecting with the VAT databases, and allow customers to reverse charge their VAT anyway. While this would be good for customers, unfortunately we cannot add this to the plugin for legal reasons.

EU VAT law states that only businesses with a valid VAT number can have their VAT reverse charged, and connecting with the database is the only way to automatically verify this before the order is placed. Due to the automated nature of Easy Digital Downloads and the way it delivers digital products as soon as an order is completed, it would be not be responsible to allow the reverse charge mechanism to work without proper validation of customers' VAT numbers - even where there is an error which is not the customer's fault.

If a customer contacts you reporting issues with validating their VAT number, then we suggest that you do one of the following:

  • Advise them to try again later.
  • Visit the VIES website and manually validate their VAT number. If it is valid then you can ask them to complete their order (which will involve paying the VAT), and then give them a part-refund of the tax paid in Easy Digital Downloads.

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