Where Do I Find My VAT Reference Number?

Your unique VAT number is shown on the registration certificate which HMRC issue when your business becomes VAT registered. Once you receive your VAT registration certificate, you (or your agent) can create an online VAT account.

What does my VAT reference number look like?

If you have a UK VAT number it will be 9 digits long. Businesses based in England, Scotland and Wales will have a VAT ID with the prefix ‘GB’, and in Northern Ireland with ‘XI’. They’re different because of the special VAT relationship between Northern Ireland and the EU.

What do I need to become VAT registered?

You can register your business for VAT online, by post, or ask an agent to do it for you. Most businesses apply for their VAT reference online, although you can download and post paper forms too.

You’ll need to tell HMRC information about your business, such as details about your annual turnover, and what the business does. This is to make sure that you register for VAT correctly, and use the right VAT accounting scheme.

What is my VAT effective date?

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

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

 
MTD VAT Software

Reclaiming and paying VAT after registration

After the registration date, you should charge VAT on the sale of any taxable goods or services (this is known as output tax) that you sell.

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

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

Once you register for VAT, 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

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible.


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