Communicating transport documents to the tax & customs authority (TCA)

July 1st next will see the coming into force of Decree-Law 198/2012, of 24 August, which sets down the new legal provisions for goods in circulation – which are the subject-matter of transactions between VAT taxable persons – and the main objective of which is to guarantee the integrity of transport documents, thereby affording the Tax Authority more effective control of such documents and preventing their subsequent falsification or concealment.

All transport documents must now be communicated to the TCA prior to the transfer of the goods to which they refer. It is important firstly to note that transport documents are considered the invoice, the dispatch note, the return delivery slip, the waybill or other equivalent documents, such as the consignment note and transfer note, among others. Only simplified invoices, which do not have the details required in the dispatch note, cannot be considered transport documents. The dispatch notes or equivalent documents must contain, at least, the name or trading name of the sender, as well as the address of the registered office and the tax number; the trading name, registered office address and tax number of the addressee or acquirer, and, finally, the commercial description and quantities of the goods.

These documents may be issued electronically (by means of a software programme certified by the TCA, a software programme also certified by the TCA, or software produced internally by the company), directly on the Tax Authority site, or on paper (using consecutive numbered printed forms).

After the transport documents have been issued, the VAT taxable persons must communicate them to the Tax Authority by electronic transfer of data if they are processed electronically or through computer programmes, or by means of a telephone service provided for the purpose, and in such cases, the document must be uploaded to the Tax Authority Site within 5 working days of the telephone communication. This type of communication is reserved for cases where the transport documents are issued on paper or if the IT system is in any way inoperational.

After the communication has been made, the TCA assigns an identification code to the transport document. VAT taxable persons may not begin transporting the goods in question without this code and, once it has been obtained, the goods do not have to be accompanied by the transport document itself. If the transport document is issued on paper, the communication must be made by phone and, in this case too, a code is supplied in order to upload the data to the Tax Authority Site within the above-mentioned time limit.

The failure to issue or communicate transport documents will lead to the imposition of a penalty which may range from a fine to confiscation of the goods. It should be noted that failing to communicate the transport document is equivalent to a failure to issue the transport document.

It is therefore important to reiterate that the transport document must be communicated to the TCA before commencing transport or the sender risks committing an infringement which may be a costly one.

Ana Nobre de Sousa