top of page

Navigating the Nuances of Zero-Rated VAT in Korea: A Comprehensive Guide

*Example of zero-rated VAT invoice


Hey there! Let's dive into the world of Zero-Rated VAT in Korea, a topic that might sound as dry as a bone, but trust me, it's more intriguing than you think! This special VAT rate, set at a cool 0%, is a game-changer for businesses involved in exports and services for non-residents or foreign entities. It's like having a VIP pass in the world of taxation, where the standard VAT rate usually hovers around 10%. So, buckle up as we unravel this fiscal phenomenon!

What is Zero-Rated VAT?

Zero-Rated VAT in Korea is like a tax magician's trick – now you see it, now you don't! It applies to specific transactions, especially those that don't end up being consumed within Korea's borders. Here's a quick rundown of where this magic works:

  • Goods that wave goodbye from Korean ports.

  • Services that find their way overseas.

  • Navigation services that are all about international waters.

  • Business support services that cross borders.

  • Transport services that are buddies with exports.

Why Zero-Rated VAT?

The idea behind this nifty tax rate is simple yet powerful. It's all about encouraging international trade and services by saying "No, thank you!" to taxing goods and services that are enjoyed elsewhere. This approach not only supports global business dynamics but also helps Korean businesses keep their VAT liabilities and cash flows in check.

Understanding the Criteria for Zero-Rated VAT

Zero-Rated VAT isn't a free-for-all. It's like a selective club with its own rules. Let's break down these criteria:

Eligible Transactions

  • Exports Galore: If you're sending goods out of Korea, you're in luck!

  • Overseas Services: Providing services to someone beyond Korea's borders? Bingo!

  • Foreign Currency-Earning Services: Even if it's within Korea, if it earns foreign currency, it's eligible in a certain conditions(ex. domestic L/C).

Issuing Tax Invoices

Here's where it gets a bit tricky. Generally, you don't need to issue a tax invoice for these transactions. But hold your horses! There are exceptions:

  • Goods linked to domestic letters of credit or purchase confirmation documents.

  • Sales to certain organizations like the Korea International Cooperation Agency.

These special cases get what's known as "Zero-Rated Tax Invoices (영세율세금계산서)."

Zero-Rated VAT vs. VAT Exemption: What's the Difference?

It's easy to get these two mixed up, but they're as different as apples and oranges. Here's the lowdown:

  • Zero-Rated VAT: You don't charge VAT on sales, but you can still get a refund on the VAT you paid on purchases. It's like getting a tax holiday while still claiming your tax back on shopping!

  • VAT Exemption: No VAT on sales, and no refund on the VAT paid on purchases. It's more like a tax-free zone with no perks on the purchasing side.

Impact on Businesses and Consumers

Zero-Rated VAT is like a double-edged sword. It's fantastic for businesses engaged in eligible transactions, as it can significantly reduce their tax burden. On the flip side, it's a bit of a bummer for consumers, as they don't see direct benefits like reduced prices.


  1. What types of services are eligible for Zero-Rated VAT in Korea?

  • Services supplied overseas and those earning foreign currency within Korea.

  1. Do I always need to issue a tax invoice for zero-rated transactions?

  • Not always, except for specific cases like goods linked to domestic letters of credit.

  1. How does Zero-Rated VAT affect my business's cash flow?

  • It can improve cash flow by reducing VAT liabilities.


Well, there you have it! Zero-Rated VAT in Korea is a fascinating aspect of the tax world, offering significant benefits to businesses engaged in international trade and services. While it might seem a bit complex at first glance, understanding its nuances can open up opportunities for savvy business owners and financial professionals. So, keep these insights in your back pocket – they might just come in handy!

For more details, please feel free to reach out at or If you would like a free consultation with an English-speaking Consultant/Accountant in Korea, please schedule a call at: Schedule a Call with Jz


bottom of page