UK VAT Registration – hellotax

Register for VAT in the UK. Below we explain when you need to register, how registration works and how to get a VAT number.

When do I need to register for UK VAT?

Businesses and online sellers need to register for UK VAT for a number of reasons. This applies to English sellers as well as foreign and European retailers selling goods in England.

1. Mandatory registration in case of exceeding the VAT threshold within the next 30 days

  • The threshold above which VAT becomes applicable is set at an income of £85,000 in the UK.
  • As soon as you realize that your turnover will exceed this threshold in the next 30 days, you must register within this 30 days.
  • “Registration Effective Date” is the date you realize you need to register. From this date you are liable for VAT.
  • For example: You realize on July 1st that you will be over the limit during the month. You must be registered by July 30th, but your “registration effective date” remains July 1st.

2. Mandatory registration if the VAT threshold has been exceeded in the last 12 months

  • The same applies if you notice that you have exceeded your sales threshold in the last 12 months.
  • In this case, you must register within 30 days of the end of the month in which you exceeded the threshold.
  • “Registration Effective Date” is the 1st day of the month following this month.
  • For example: Your turnover between 10 May 2021 and 9 May 2022 was over £85,000. You now have until June 30th to register and your “Registration Effective Date” is June 1st.

3. Compulsory registration of Northern Ireland traders selling VAT-free goods

  • Usually companies or sellers that only sell VAT-exempt goods and services do not have to register for VAT.
  • However, this does not apply to Northern Ireland sellers who supply goods from EU VAT registered suppliers.
  • Once the value of these goods exceeds £85,000, these Northern Ireland businesses must also register for VAT.

4. Mandatory registration of EU sellers

  • The £85,000 threshold does not apply to foreign traders and companies.
  • EU and other foreign sellers who sell or import goods to UK customers, ie who supply goods and services to the UK in any way, must register for VAT in England.
  • Registration must be made as soon as the goods are expected to be shipped within the next 30 days or as soon as the shipment takes place.

5. Voluntary registration or VAT exemption application

  • UK retailers with a turnover of less than £85,000 can register on a voluntary basis and must then pay VAT. Earlier, voluntary registration can avoid penalties in case of sudden VAT liability.
  • UK traders whose sales exceed or have only briefly exceeded the £85,000 threshold can apply for an exemption. When submitting your VAT1 form, explain why your sales will no longer exceed the threshold for the next 12 months.

If you register late for UK VAT, you still have to pay the VAT that accrued from the date you should have registered. This means: if you registered too late and may not have even charged VAT, you will be paying the VAT debt out of pocket. Penalties and interest may also apply depending on late registration. It is therefore important to take care of your UK VAT registration at an early stage.

How does VAT registration work in England?

You can usually complete your UK VAT registration online. All VAT tasks in England are carried out through the ‘Government Gateway’. You must register for the gateway first. Once registration is complete, you will receive a Government Gateway User ID for your Government Gateway account (also “VAT Online Account”) that you can use to log in at any time.

This account allows you to both register for UK VAT to obtain an English VAT number and to submit VAT returns in advance. You can also authorize a tax advisor to file VAT returns for you.

You can also register for VAT by mail. Form VAT1 can be used to register by post for those who

  • want to take advantage of the exemption
  • want to benefit from the flat rate for farmers
  • who wish to register a division of an already registered business.

There are also several other forms that must be submitted by mail in certain circumstances.

  • VAT Form 1A must be submitted if an EU business sells goods by post to customers in Northern Ireland
  • A VAT1B form must be submitted if a UK company imports goods worth more than £85,000 from the EU into Northern Ireland.
  • A VAT Form 1C must be submitted on the disposal of assets for which a refund has been claimed under regulation 8 or 13.

After 30 working days you will receive a VAT registration certificate from HMRC. The certificate will either be sent to your VAT online account or delivered by post if you are unable to register online. However, you can use the VAT number to create an online account.

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What is the format of a UK VAT number?

United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland) Northern Ireland
Name: VAT Registration Number (VRN) VAT Registration Number (VRN)
Country code GB: XI:
Format: GB + 9 numbers XI + 9 Numbers
For example: GB123456789 XI123456789

To avoid problems and fines with the UK authorities, you should register for UK VAT early. hellotax helps with that. Our VAT automation tool can also automate and simplify the process of filing VAT returns, complying with authorities, monitoring your transactions and much more. Contact us today and learn more.

Book a free consultation

Our VAT experts are happy to help you. Book a free consultation today.


What are the different rates of VAT in the UK?

The standard rate of VAT in England is 20% and applies to most goods and services. A reduced rate of 5% applies to certain products such as child seats and power. Food and children’s clothing are taxed at 0%.

When do I have to file my UK VAT return?

VAT returns are submitted quarterly in the UK. It is also possible to take advantage of the exception rule, according to which only one VAT return must be submitted each year.

What are the VAT registration deadlines in England?

The return must always be submitted within the same deadline. VAT refunds are made one month and seven days after the end of the last reporting period.

How long will it take to get my UK VAT number?

Once registration is complete, it will take approximately 30 working days to receive your UK registration certificate and VAT number.

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