UK VAT registration

What are the UK VAT registration thresholds?

For foreign businesses trading in UK that are VAT/GST/Tax registered in their home state, the VAT registration threshold is nil. Non-established businesses supplying taxable goods or services in the UK are therefore obliged to register for VAT regardless of turnover.

For EU VAT registered companies selling goods over the internet to consumers in UK, the VAT registration threshold (distance selling) is £70,000 per annum.

What information is required to get a UK VAT number and registration?

Foreign businesses are required to complete Form VAT 1 for supply of taxable goods and/or services to the UK and Form VAT1A for distance selling into the UK. HMRC may contact applicants for supplementary information.

Note that non-resident businesses are required to have a UK bank account. Without a bank account any VAT due must be paid by check and a written explanation provided to HMRC as an attachment to the VAT registration form.

Where are UK VAT registrations submitted?

Foreign businesses not established in the UK should submit their VAT registration application to:

HMRC Non Established Taxable Persons Unit (NETPU)

HM Revenue & Customs
Ruby House
8 Ruby Place
AB10 1ZP

If a non-established business is using an agent to register on their behalf, then they may register online or with any local VAT Registration Unit. Note that non-EU businesses are required to appoint a tax agent or fiscal representative who is jointly and severally liable for any tax, interest or penalties due.

What is the format of a UK VAT number?

Once the registration has been granted, which usually takes four to six weeks from the submission of a VAT registration form, a unique UK VAT number is allocated to the company.  All EU member states have a fixed format for their VAT numbers.  In the UK, it consists of the prefix GB followed by 9 digits.  For example: GB 123456789

British Number Format

Country Code GB
Format 123456789
Characters 9 characters

What next?

Once a business has received its VAT number, it is free to commence trading, and charging UK VAT.  It must comply with the UK VAT compliance rules, and file regular returns (see UK VAT Returns briefing).

Latest British news

UK HMRC wins catering VAT case

February 4, 2019

HMRC has won a tax tribunal ruling which held that the sandwich shop chain, EAT Limited, had to charge 20% VAT on its bacon breakfast muffins and grilled ciabatta bread products. EAT is now obliged to settle a £632,620 VAT bill for failing to levy VAT on these products.

EU VAT and tax veto review

January 25, 2019

The European Commission (EC) has proposed switching from unanimous to majority voting on EU VAT and other tax policies.  The aim is to progress fiscal reforms which face immovable opposition from just a limited number of member states. 

UK MTD pilot open to VAT groups

January 24, 2019

HMRC has extended the Making Tax Digital for VAT pilot to members of VAT Groups. MTD will require over 1 million businesses above the £85,000 VAT registration threshold to record