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Where Do I Find My VAT Reference Number?

A VAT number is issued when a business becomes VAT registered, and can be found on the registration certificate issued by HMRC. Once the certificate has been issued, the holder (or their agent) can create a VAT online account.

What do I need to become VAT registered?

Most businesses apply for VAT registration online, although paper forms can be downloaded and sent by post too.

HMRC will ask for confirmation of annual turnover, and other details such as bank account information and what the business does.

What is my VAT effective date?

The ‘VAT effective date’ is the date of registration. It’s possible to reclaim VAT which has been paid (known as input tax) before this date, up to a maximum of:

  • 4 years for goods (as long as you still own them)
  • 6 months for services

After the registration date, VAT should be charged on the sale of any taxable goods or services (known as output tax).

  • If input tax is higher than output tax (which means the VAT you’ve paid on purchases is more than the VAT that has been paid to you by customers), then you can reclaim the VAT from HMRC (and you’ll get a refund).
  • If output tax is higher than input tax (which means more VAT has been paid to you by customers than you’ve paid on purchases), then you’ll have to pay the difference to HMRC.

How do I tell HMRC about VAT I owe or want to reclaim?

Once VAT registered, you’ll need to submit a VAT return every 3 months, either through your VAT online account, or using Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT software.

Our free bookkeeping software is integrated with HMRC so users can send MTD compliant VAT returns directly from Pandle. Because all of the data is stored digitally on Pandle’s cloud it’s highly secure, and does a lot of the heavy-lifting admin of keeping VAT records and calculations.

Do I need my VAT number after registering?

Your VAT number should be included on any documentation you send out, such as invoices. If you need to check if someone else’s VAT number is genuine, you can either:

  • Call HMRC’s VAT helpline on 0300 200 3700
  • Check online using VIES, though newly registered VAT numbers don’t always appear straight away.

Create a free bookkeeping account on Pandle to get started with MTD for VAT compliant software. If you are an accountant or bookkeeper, learn more about using Pandle with your clients. 


Elizabeth Hughes

An SEO Copywriter and Content Creator. After more than ten years of enjoying myself by turning difficult subjects into elegant, simple language, I still can't believe I get paid for this.