Where Do I Find My VAT Reference Number?

A VAT number is issued when a business becomes VAT registered, and is shown on the registration certificate which HMRC issue. Once you have your certificate, the holder (or your agent) can create a VAT online account.

What do I need to become VAT registered?

Most businesses apply for VAT registration online, although you can download and post paper forms too.

HMRC will ask for confirmation of annual turnover, and other details such as 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.

Reclaiming and paying VAT

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

  • 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 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

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