In reality, when you start your business, you may register for a VAT number to comply with any number of tax requirements. However, not all businesses exceed the VAT tax threshold, and there might be situations when you are required to have a VAT number. For example, if you want to claim tax relief on certain exemptions, you may be required to have a VAT number. So how do you go about checking your VAT number and why should you have one in the first place?
A unique registration number will be assigned to each of your VAT-registered partners or suppliers. If your company is VAT-registered, you’ll need your own VAT number to recover any VAT you’ve paid to your vendors. This article will explain what a VAT registration number is, why it’s necessary, and where to look for one.
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What is a VAT registration number?
When a firm registers for VAT, HMRC assigns it a VAT number, which is a unique identifier. VAT numbers in the U.K are nine digits long and always begin with the letter GB. If you’re working with a provider from another EU country, the VAT number will be in a different format, with a different country code. On its website, HMRC provides a list of ID formats from European Union member states.
Why is a VAT number important?
If you try to reclaim VAT without having a valid VAT number from your supplier, HMRC may reject your claim. If this happens, you may be stuck footing the bill or dealing with a lot of paperwork to fix the problem!
If you pay VAT to a supplier but the invoice doesn’t include a registration number, you should contact them right away since you’ll need a legitimate VAT invoice from them to reclaim any VAT they’ve charged you.
Where can I find it?
When you’re looking for the VAT number of another business, your first port of call should be any invoice it has sent to you. If the company is VAT registered, its unique ID should appear on all of its invoices.
Check if a VAT number is valid.
If you’re dealing with a new customer or supplier and want to see if the VAT registration number (VRN) they provided is legitimate, you have three options.
1). Calling the HMRC VAT helpline
HMRC maintains a comprehensive database of VAT-registered firms, so if you have any questions regarding your registration number, call their VAT helpline at 0300 200 3700. This option, however, has two disadvantages. The first disadvantage is that HMRC can only examine the VAT number for businesses that are registered in the United Kingdom.
Secondly, the VAT Helpline’s limited hours of operation are equally a source of concern. Given that you may need to check a VAT number outside of the hotline’s operating hours, and that even when the helpline is open, getting through to a member of staff can take time, this may not be the ideal option.
2). Checking the VIES website
The VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) of the European Union can be used to verify the authenticity of both UK and EU VAT numbers. You can check if a supplier’s VAT number is legitimate by entering the registration numbers and applicable country codes into the fields given.
If VIES indicates that the supplier’s VAT registration is invalid, you should contact them as quickly as possible to obtain the correct VAT number. The second method is to use the VAT Information Exchange System’s online VAT number validation service (VIES).
Simply go to this page of the European Commission’s website to access the VIES for validating a VAT number. Choose the nation where the firm is located from the drop-down menu, and then input the VAT registration number you want to check from the drop-down option. The site will then tell you if the number is ‘Valid’ or ‘Invalid.’
Some nations will additionally offer you the name and address of the firm associated with the VAT number if it is a genuine VAT registration number, depending on the local data protection requirements.
3). Check a UK VAT number via HMRC
Use the HMRC service to check your VAT number or that of a partner or supplier. You may also use this system to check if a UK VAT number is valid as well as the name and address a business is registered to. Not only is HMRC’s platform straightforward, but it is also equally time-saving. This service is limited to UK VAT numbers only but is equally available in Welsh (Cymraeg).
4). You can equally use services such as VAT-Search, but these are quite limited as not very many businesses are registered on such platforms. For example, VAT-SearchUK only has 600 affiliated businesses.
In order to recover what you have paid to vendors, you may need to check a supplier or partners’ VAT number. You may do so by going to the HMRC website or the EU’s VAT Information Exchange System (VIES).
You can change your VAT details in several ways:
For changes in partnership, send the VAT2 form to the VAT registration service.
Be sure to notify HMRC about any changes within 30 days or you may be at risk of huge financial penalties. This information includes things such as your trading name, main address and your accountant or agent’s details.
If you submit a VAT number to the VIES website and it indicates it isn’t a legitimate VRN number, the first thing you should do is contact your client or supplier to double-check. It’s likely that they provided you with the incorrect VAT number by mistake. If the number remains “invalid” after double-checking with the company, you should advise them that the VIES system has flagged it as an invalid VAT number.