UK VAT rates and VAT compliance
UK VAT rates
Whilst the UK is obliged to follow the VAT compliance rules of the European Union, it has more freedom to set its own rates, including the standard (upper) VAT rate. The only proviso is that it is above 15%. Suppliers of goods or services VAT registered in UK must charge the appropriate VAT rate, and collect the tax for onward payment to the UK tax authorities through a VAT filing: see UK VAT returns briefing.
The current rates are:
|Rate||Type||Which goods or services|
|20%||Standard||All other taxable goods and services|
|5%||Reduced||Children’s car seats; certain social housing; some social services; electricity, natural gas and district heating supplies (for domestic use only); some energy-saving domestic installations and goods; LPG and heating oil (for domestic use only); some renovation and repairs of private dwellings; some medical equipment for disabled persons|
|0%||Zero||Some social housing; printed books (excluding e-books); newspapers and periodicals; renovations to private housing (Isle of Man only); collections of domestic refuse; household water supplies (except distilled and mineral water); supplies of food and drink (some exceptions); take away food (if bought on the catering premises); cut flowers and plants for food production; prescribed pharmaceutical products; certain medical supplies for disabled persons; domestic passenger transport; children's clothing and footwear; children’s diapers; live animals destined for human consumption; seed supplies; supply of animal feed; supplies of residential caravans and houseboats; some construction work on new buildings; some supplies of new buildings; sewerage services; motor cycle and bicycle helmets; commercial ship and aircraft stores; intra-community and international passenger transport; some gold ingots, bars and coins|
UK VAT compliance
Once a foreign enterprise has received its UK VAT number, it will be obliged to follow the VAT Act. This includes:
- Preparing invoices with the disclosure details outlined in the UK VAT Act.
- Electronic invoices with proper signature, authenticity and agreement by the recipient.
- Maintenance of accounts and records, which must be held for at least 7 years.
- Correct invoicing of customers for goods or services in accordance with the UK time of supply VAT rules.
- Processing of credit notes and other corrections.
- Use of approved foreign currency rates.
What is the tax point for UK VAT?
The tax point (time of supply) rules in the UK determine when the VAT is due. It is then payable to the tax authorities 30 days after the VAT reporting period end (monthly or quarterly).
For most goods, it is the time of delivery or passage of title. For services, it is the completion of the service.
Need help with your UK VAT compliance?
Researching UK VAT legislation is the first step to understanding your VAT compliance needs. Avalara has a range of solutions that can help your business depending on where and how you trade.
Latest British news
March 5, 2019
HMRC estimates that 245,000 businesses buy and sell goods with other EU27 states. When the UK leaves the Customs Union, 29 March, all movements of goods must be declared for customs, tariffs and VAT. This requires an EORI number (Economic Operator Registration Identification), which is shown on customs declarations etc.
March 1, 2019
HMRC is writing to thousands of UK, US and other international sellers of digital services to warn them to now VAT register in another EU state in readiness for a no-deal Brexit. This covers their sales of e-services, apps, streaming media, online gaming and dating, e-books and software to EU consumers.
February 14, 2019
The UK’s HMRC has opened the registration portal for foreign delivery companies to register post-Brexit VAT on consumer good parcels below £135. This new regime will be triggered under the current default no-transition deal Brexit on 29 March 2019.
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