VAT Registration Number in the UK

Get your VAT registration number in the UK for legal compliance and business credibility. Learn the necessity. Verify VAT numbers easily.
VAT Registration Number in the UK

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Ever wondered about the significance of a VAT registration number in the business world? It’s more than just a number; it’s your ticket to legal compliance and financial benefits.

In this blog, we dive into the depth of knowledge about VAT registration numbers in the UK. From its importance to the application process, dive into a concise guide for a clearer understanding of VAT and its role in your business. Stay tuned!

What Is VAT Registration Number?

First and foremost, let’s define the concept of a VAT registration number.

The abbreviation “VAT” stands for value-added tax. The VAT registration number is a distinctive identifier assigned to businesses registered for VAT. This is also known as a VRN or VAT number UK.

When a company’s taxable turnover reaches or exceeds the VAT threshold specified by a country’s tax authorities, the company is legally required to register for VAT. The threshold varies from country to country. Following successful registration, the tax authorities issue a unique VAT registration number to the business.

Take a look below at the brief description of the VAT registration number:

  • The VRN is used for official purposes, including invoicing, tax returns, and other interactions with tax authorities. It is included on invoices to indicate that VAT is being charged on the sale. VAT-registered businesses must include their VRNs on their invoices, allowing customers and tax authorities to verify the transaction’s legitimacy.

  • Moreover, this number is also essential for reclaiming input VAT, denoting the VAT paid on purchases and expenses. Businesses leverage their VRNs to identify themselves when seeking refunds for this input tax.

Businesses with a VAT registration number must submit regular VAT returns to the tax authorities. These returns detail the VAT collected on sales (output VAT) and the VAT paid on purchases (input VAT).

Do I Need a VAT Registration Number in the UK?

In the UK, you need a VAT registration number for several reasons:

  • Legal Requirement: According to the last update from the UK tax authority, HMRC-
    • If your business’s taxable turnover exceeds the VAT threshold of £90,000, it is a legal obligation to register for VAT with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

      Failure to register for VAT on time may result in penalties and fines.

  • Collecting VAT: Once registered, your business must charge VAT on its sales (output tax) and collect this tax from customers. The VAT registration number is used on your invoices, indicating to customers that you are a registered business and are charging VAT.

  • Non-Resident Businesses: Non-resident businesses that supply taxable goods and services in the UK must register for VAT, regardless of turnover. When doing business in the UK as a non-resident, you must charge and collect VAT on their sales to UK customers.

  • Reclaiming Input Tax: VAT-registered businesses can reclaim the VAT they pay on their business expenses (input tax). This can significantly reduce your overall business costs.

  • Compliance: Having a VAT registration number ensures that your business is compliant with tax regulations. It demonstrates that you are accountable for collecting and remitting VAT to HMRC.

  • Business Credibility: A VAT registration number can enhance your business’s credibility. It signifies that your business has reached a certain level of turnover, making it appear more established and trustworthy to customers and partners.

  • International Trade: If your business engages in international trade, a VAT registration number is often necessary for business transactions in other countries. It simplifies cross-border trade and ensures compliance with tax laws.

  • Avoiding Penalties: If your business is eligible for VAT registration and you do not register, you could face penalties and fines if tax authorities discover your non-compliance during audits or inspections.

When to Get a VAT Number in the UK?

You may face difficulty understanding and thinking about when it is time to get a VAT number.

Before you fill out any VAT application, you must be sure when you require a UK VAT number. Depending on where your business is located and how much money it makes, the criteria change. You should apply for a UK VAT number under the following circumstances:

  • Exceeding the Threshold: If your UK business’s taxable turnover exceeds £90,000 within a 12-month period, you must register for VAT. This requirement also applies if you expect your taxable turnover to surpass this threshold in the next 30 days.

  • Voluntary Registration: Even if your turnover is below the threshold, you have the option to register for VAT voluntarily. Voluntary registration enables you to reclaim VAT on your business expenses and enhances your interactions with other VAT-registered businesses.

  • Non-UK Businesses Supplying Goods and Services to the UK: Non-UK businesses must register for UK VAT promptly upon supplying goods and services to the UK or if they anticipate doing so within the next 30 days. There is no specific threshold for non-UK businesses.

Before filling out any VAT application, it’s essential to understand these criteria, as different rules apply based on your business’s location and revenue.

Note: VAT regulations can change, so staying informed through the official HMRC website or consulting with a tax professional is crucial for the most accurate and up-to-date guidance related to VAT registration in the UK.

How to Get a VAT Registration Number as a Non-Resident in the UK?

As a non-resident business in the UK, follow these steps to get a VAT registration number:

  1. Check Eligibility: Determine if your business needs to register for VAT based on turnover or voluntary registration.

  2. Appoint a UK VAT Representative: Non-resident businesses require a UK VAT representative with a UK address.

  3. Create a Government Gateway Account: Register for an account on the HMRC website.

  4. Fill out the Online VAT Registration Form: Provide business details and your UK VAT representative’s information via the HMRC portal.

  5. Submit Application: Electronically submit the form through the HMRC website.

  6. Wait for Confirmation: HMRC will review your application. Upon approval, you’ll receive a VAT registration number and certificate.

For more details, please check our content on “VAT registration for the UK.”

How to Check a VAT Registration Number?

After VAT registration, it’s essential to verify the accuracy of VAT numbers, especially for significant business transactions, and consult the official tax authorities or documentation for official confirmation when necessary.

Using His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) “VAT number validation service,” you can check a VAT number in the UK. Here’s how to do it:

  • Visit the HMRC Website.

  • Look for the “VAT number validation service” or “VAT online services” on the HMRC website.

  • Input the VAT number you want to check in the provided field.

  • Click the “Check” or “Verify” button.

  • View the result. The system will display whether the VAT number UK is valid, along with additional details about the business, if available.

This service allows you to confirm the validity of VAT numbers registered in the UK. For VAT numbers from other EU countries, you can use the “VAT Information Exchange System” (VIES), as mentioned in a previous response.

To check your UK VAT number, visit here.

Responsibilities Once Obtaining a UK VAT Number?

Receiving your UK VAT registration number doesn’t mean you can simply relax. Upon registration, you have several obligations to fulfill, including:

  • Adding VAT to Your Prices: You must include VAT in the prices of your goods or services.

  • Issuing Valid VAT Invoices: Different VAT invoice requirements exist, depending on the type. You can find the complete list of requirements on the HMRC website.

  • Submitting Your VAT Return: Every quarter, you must submit your VAT return online, even if you don’t owe any VAT or need to reclaim any.

  • Maintaining Digital VAT Records and a VAT Account: Keeping accurate digital records and a VAT account is essential.

These obligations ensure that the VAT you charge and pay is balanced. If you overpay, you’ll receive a refund during your return filing. Underpayment, however, is considered fraudulent and can result in legal consequences.

Different VAT Rates in the UK

When you have a UK VAT number, you must do more than you might think. To get things going right, you must ensure your customers pay the right VAT amount.

There are three types of VAT rates depending on the type of goods and services in the UK:

  • Standard Rate: The standard VAT rate in the UK was 20%. This rate applies to most services and goods.

  • Reduced Rate: Some goods and services were subject to a reduced VAT rate of 5%. This included items like children’s car seats and home energy.

  • Zero Rate: Certain goods and services were taxed at 0% VAT. This category included essentials like most food items, children’s clothing, books, and some medications.

It’s important to note that VAT rates and regulations can change, so it’s advisable to check the official HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website or consult a tax professional for the most current and specific information regarding VAT rates in the UK.

Are the VAT Registration Number and UTR the Same?

No, the VAT registration number and UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) in the UK are not the same.

The VAT registration number is issued to businesses for Value Added Tax (VAT) purposes. It typically consists of 9 digits, often including the prefix “GB,” followed by the digits. The format of the UK VAT registration number is GB123 4567 89.

On the other hand, UTR is a unique 10-digit number provided by HMRC for various tax purposes, including income tax and corporation tax. It is used to identify individuals and businesses. For corporation tax, businesses use the UTR when submitting the CT600 Form. The format of a UTR, or Unique Taxpayer Reference, is 12345 67890.


Q1: Is a VAT ID the same as a VAT number in the UK?

Answer: Yes, in the context of the United Kingdom, a VAT ID and a VAT number UK refer to the same thing. A VAT ID, or VAT number, is a unique identifier assigned to businesses registered for value-added tax (VAT) purposes.

Q2: Can I get a tax refund in the UK?

Answer: Yes, you can get a tax refund in the UK if you’ve overpaid taxes or have certain eligible expenses. Contact HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or file a self-assessment tax return to claim your refund.

Q3: Can a business trade without a VAT number?

Answer: If a business’s taxable turnover is below the threshold, it is not required to register for VAT, and it chooses not to register voluntarily. Therefore, the business or company does not need a VAT number to trade.

Q4: Is a VAT number in the UK the same as a UTR number?

Answer: No, a VAT number and a UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) number are different. A VAT number is used for Value Added Tax purposes, while a UTR number is a unique identifier used for income tax and self-assessment by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the UK.

Final Thoughts

In summary, a VAT registration number in the UK is crucial for legal compliance, efficient tax management, financial benefits, and credibility in the business world. It enables your business to operate within the legal framework, participate in international trade, and benefit from VAT reclaims on your expenses.

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