UK VAT registration

The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. As part of its Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, it will remain inside the EU VAT regime until 31 December 2020. During this time, there will be no changes to UK VAT rules, treatment of transactions or filings. Read Avalara’s free 2020 Brexit guide for details on Brexit VAT and customs issues.

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).

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. 

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