The Exporter International Tax ID field is optional
This is where you'll put an IOSS, HMRC, or VOEC number, if you have one. You'll only want to include this Tax ID in your customs form if you're shipping an order to an international customer AND that country's sales taxes or VAT (value added tax) was prepaid when you made the sale. By including the Tax ID, your customer won't have to accidentally pay those same taxes again when they receive the package.
You only have to worry about including a Tax ID when creating a label in Pirate Ship if you made the sale on a marketplace OR if you've chosen to opt into a foreign country's tax system for your own website or sales channels. If neither of those are true, you don't need to include an Exporter International Tax ID when creating your label.
You probably only need to do this if you sell on marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Amazon
Some countries (like all the countries in the European Union) require international online marketplaces like eBay, Etsy, or Amazon to automatically collect and prepay any VAT taxes that your customer owes their country for the sale. Most countries have thresholds for this, so for example in the EU the taxes can only be prepaid if the order is worth €150 Euros or less. Whenever those marketplaces are prepaying those taxes, they'll give you a Tax ID number. For example, for the European Union this is known as an IOSS number. You'll need to enter the number into the Exporter International Tax ID field in Pirate Ship when creating the label.
You don't have to do this if you're selling through your own website
When you sell products through any other sales channel besides a marketplace (like your own website on Shopify, WooCommerce, Squarespace, etc., or over the phone or email) then you're not required to do anything UNLESS you've opted into the foreign country's tax system and you have registered your business in the foreign country to collect and prepay your customer's taxes. You can read about paying the VAT tax for your European customers here. In general, we really don't recommend doing this because it's a huge pain in the peg-leg, and your international customers are probably used to paying their country's import and sales taxes.
How to format your Exporter International Tax ID number
When entering any IOSS number in the Exporter International Tax ID field, be sure to begin with the letters "IM" and follow that with the 10-digit IOSS number. Here's an example of how the proper formatting looks:
Exporter International Tax ID numbers are NOT printed on the label
If you enter a Tax ID number, don't be alarmed if you don't see it on the label! It's usually not printed on the label (though it may have to be, depending on the shipping service and country). If you don't see it, don't worry; the foreign country will pull the Tax ID up electronically using the tracking number and verify the taxes were paid.
What if you don't have a Tax ID, or forget to include it?
If you don't have a Tax ID, don't worry! The recipient will simply have to pay any sales taxes or import duties that their country charges for international trade. This is a normal part of ordering goods from abroad; every country has taxes and tariffs 👍 We do always recommend setting an expectation with your customers that they may have to pay these, just in case they're surprised.
Which countries have systems like this?
The European Union (EU) calls their VAT prepayment system the Import One Stop Shop (IOSS) and is looking for an IOSS number in the Tax ID field. This system only applies to shipments that are worth 150 Euros or less—if your shipment is worth more than that, your customer will have to pay it themselves. You can read more about it here.
The United Kingdom (UK) has a VAT prepayment system where you sign up with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs department to get an HMRC number. Similar to the European union, this system only applies to shipments that are worth £135 or less. You can read more about it here.
Any questions? Let us know, we're here to help!