EU VAT Solutions!

This post will cover four things (none of them actually related to the current wall of crazy in my sewing room in the photo above!):

1. A huge thank you to the people who left such helpful comments on my last post.
2. To let you know that I'm so grateful to everyone who bought one of my patterns in the face of me letting you know my shop may close temporarily due to the EU VAT issue, but that I think there's a workable way around the problems now, so there's no longer a need to rush to buy.
3. To let any others selling PDF patterns know about some solutions to the EU VAT problem.
4. To share Etsy's disappointing stance on the EU VAT issue.


1. Thank you so much for all your incredibly helpful and supportive comments to my last post. I'm so grateful! I was so touched and appreciative.

2. I was overwhelmed (in the best way) by the number of messages of support that I've had, the many people who've bought my patterns this week and the emails from shops offering to stock them for me and deal with the VAT on my behalf (including two of my sponsors - thank you Backstitch and Plush Addict!). I'm so grateful. I'm pleased to say there's no need to rush to buy my patterns now as in the last 24 hours I've become fairly sure there are workable solutions on offer that will allow me to keep selling (as long as I can find the time to implement them when both me and my entire family have flu and it's Christmas time!). 

3. I'm keen to share the solutions that I've found, as I know that many others sell, or are hoping to sell, PDF sewing patterns too. Both of these services deal with all the VAT for you, so you can go on selling just as you always have, without any additional admin or hassle.


Paddle offers the ability to keep everything on your own website or blog, and offers the same kind of Buy it Now buttons that have been available through PayPal. They take 5% of your profits, charge £0.50 per transaction and pay you your earnings on the 15th of every month. Their service emails a link to your customers to enable them to download the PDF file after purchasing. Paddle offer in-depth reporting stats and my emails to them have been answered quickly and with a professional warmth - I feel really enthusiastic about potentially using them. Worrying about implementing the system onto my blog over Christmas, they (unexpectedly) reassured me that someone would be around to troubleshoot over the Christmas period, but that they may just be a little slower to respond than usual. Impressive. They will handle all the VAT on your behalf to allow you to go on trading as though nothing has changed. 

I've written to them to ask if the 5% and £0.50 per transaction charge covers any PayPal fees that might be incurred if the customer chooses to pay via this method and will let you know what they say.  

Thank you so much to one of my readers, AnEnthusiast, for letting me know about this service. She found out about it when she was discussing EU VAT problems with a neighbour and discovered that the neighbour worked at Paddle! What amazing serendipity. 


PayHip have historically provided distribution and checkout services for eBooks, but they're happy for anyone selling digital PDF products to use their service. PayHip allow you to set up product pages that you can link to directly from your blog, Twitter or wherever else, so that customers can complete the transaction on their site. Unlike Etsy, it's not a great big open marketplace where people can go and search for other shops while they're there. Payhip take 5% of your profits and pay you immediately following each sale. I guess you could create a Buy it Now button and place a link behind it, so that it would work in the same way as these on-site buttons have in the past. I've had a few exchanges with PayHip on Twitter and they seem helpful, enthusiastic and are completely set up to handle VAT on behalf of their customers.

Financially, PayHip offer a better deal so this is who I may end up going with, but there are probably pros and cons to each service. Thanks so much to Kerry, who told me about PayHip late last night, shortly after they'd announced their ability to handle VAT. It feels amazing that two viable options have now presented themselves over the weekend.

I'm looking forward to knowing that I can now write up a pattern for this English paper piecing project that I've recently finished in Oakshott and Liberty print fabrics!

4. Finally, I wanted to share Etsy's announcement on EU VAT, which they made on 22nd December, saying that they are not going to take on the responsibility of dealing with EU VAT and that it is up to their sellers to deal with these issues. I believe they may be creating a tool to allow sellers to collect the two pieces of customer location evidence needed in order to deal with the tangle of VAT paperwork vendors will have to work their way through now, but it doesn't sound as though this will be available for January 1st. It is, of course, completely understandable for Etsy not to want to take on this extra administrative burden but, after months of silence in the face of their sellers' increasingly panic-stricken requests to know what was happening, to announce that this is their stance nine days before the changes come into practice, with Christmas in between, feels quite staggering.

I'm not affected by this as I make very few sales via Etsy (less than 80 in two years!) and so have already removed my patterns from sale, but many will be. In the longterm, this will affect all Etsy users when the new EU VAT law applies to physical products, as well as digital, the following year.

I'm imagining the next year may bring new, more boutique, specialised marketplaces who are willing to support their vendors by dealing with the VAT issues and seize upon the gap in the market that Etsy are creating by not doing so.

All that's left, is for me to wish you a really happy Christmas! I'm wishing especially for good health and plans that actually come to fruition to be under the tree, as my children have had flu for over two weeks now and my husband and I are unwell with it too. We've already missed seeing family and friends for Christmassy celebrations and it now looks like even our Christmas day plans may have to be cancelled too, as no one seems to be getting much better.

Yesterday, we ran into the truly exhausting realisation that we still had to wrap all the presents and that we had NO cellotape left in the house and so would actually need to go out into the world and buy some (having already braved going out once to walk Nell). Both of these tasks felt equivalent to suddenly being asked to run a marathon and when my husband finally got home with the cellotape and collapsed into bed, I then spent six hours in a haze of wrapping (I don't believe that I have actually bought six hours worth of presents, just that flu-wrapping takes several times as long as good-health-wrapping). My daughter helped me with quite a lot of the gifts that weren't for her and we put on Christmas music while we wrapped, which made the whole thing feel even more surreal, as there are only actually three Christmas songs which we like…so we had them playing on repeat.

Wishing you a happy Christmas and a plentiful supply of cellotape,
Florence x


  1. Thank you for all this info, Florence. It is so helpful, altho I am not sure, being a complete techie failure that I will still manage to implement the necessary. Wishing you all a speedy recovery in time for a very Merry Christmas

  2. Thank you for writing up all this info, and while not feeling well, too! I hope you all will recover soon, and have a wonderful Christmas!

  3. Oh dear, your flu-bound gift wrapping scene has made me laugh sympathetically, Florence! Today I'm facing the fact that, as usual, my most important present isn't going to be finished in time... Agh.

    Very disappointing (and short-sighted) from Etsy, but I was sure somebody would seize the opportunity to solve the PDF pattern VAT problem - so glad your lovely patterns and many others will remain available!

    Hope you all feel better by Thursday, and manage to have a lovely time. x

  4. Poor form on Etsy's behalf. They deserve to lose business to the other agencies that can handle the VAT. It's all been a bit of a bun fight. I don't think I will have anything sorted before 1st Jan, so I will just switch off selling to the EU to through Bigcartel to buy myself some time. I don't like doing that, but I don't want to be in the wrong with the taxman (even if he isn't my taxman). Merry Christmas to you and yours, Florence, I so hope you are feeling better soonest. We have two cold sufferers in the house here as well (summer colds are so annoying), although they are feeling quite well despite all the sniffles and coughs. The flu is a different beast and I hope you can have a lovely Christmas day regardless x x

  5. I hope Mele Kalikimaka was on your chrimbo tunes list ;) I love it!!

  6. The image of you and your daughter listening to three songs over and over and over made me laugh...only because it's the sort of thing I would do myself :)
    I do hope you and yours are all feeling 100% very soon, and that your Christmas will be a merry one!
    Sending a kiss for Nell :)

  7. Thank you for this information. I sell all my patterns on Etsy and Craftsy and didn't know what I was going to do. I think I will see if I can set up through one of these other sellers.

  8. Thank you so much for these tips. What's hanging on your wall is gorgeous btw...

    ps: paper tape is an amazing alternative to cellophane tape. you can cut it with your fingers. it comes in different colors. the whole sensory experience is differnet.

  9. Hi Flossie

    Here's another option, a digital marketplace for patterns. I don't know the terms they are offering though, but quite a few have joined already (Emmaline Bags, Projects by Jane, Imagine Gnats, Clover & Violet, ChrisWDesigns) so it may be worth checking out.

  10. Florence -- I'm so sorry you've all been SO sick and continue to be so! I can imagine that Bataan-death-march-for-cello-tape and i know it wasn't pleasant. How you then found yourself the energy to wrap for six hours and to research all these possibilities is beyond me and more proof that you are simply super human.

    This complete abeyance of action by Etsy is most disappointing. An entity of their size and importance should REALLY be doing right by its community and supporting its sellers rather than sticking its head in the sand. Harumph to them I say. Rather Grinch-like!!

    I do hope you'll all have a miracle recovery so you can enjoy some of Christmas!!!!

  11. Hi Florence

    I came across this article on another blog recently about the very same subject. Maybe it can give you some other food for thought.

  12. There is also some information on Bigcartel/Pulley and Paypal which may also help here:

  13. Hope you feel better and Merry Christmas!

  14. Glad you have found a solution there's nothing better than Pdfs

  15. Hello Florence, I've just been pointed your way by a kind blog follower who knows I've been agonising over these very problems. Thank you so much for your very concise explanation and suggestions for alternatives. I've been selling downloadable PDF patterns via Etsy and for now I will make them physical items which I will have to email after purchase. I think Etsy have let many many people down with their current stance, and I rather hope it comes back to bite them in the bum! I'm glad to have found your blog, I'll be back. Happy New Year! Penny

  16. Thank you very much for this - and also for your comment regarding physical products. I'm just about to set up a business, and didn't know that there were changes afoot for those too.


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