VAT Number Check UK
Importance of a VAT Number
A VAT number is a unique identifier assigned to businesses registered for VAT in the UK. It enables businesses to charge VAT on their goods and services, as well as claim input tax credits for VAT paid on business-related expenses. For customers, a VAT number ensures that the business they are dealing with is legitimate and compliant with tax regulations.
How to Obtain a VAT Number in the UK
Businesses in the UK must register for VAT if their taxable turnover exceeds the current threshold of £85,000. Registration can be done online through the HMRC website. Once the registration process is complete, the business will receive a VAT registration certificate containing their unique VAT number.
Checking a VAT Number in the UK
VIES (VAT Information Exchange System)
The most convenient way to verify a UK VAT number is through the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES), a free online service provided by the European Commission. Simply enter the VAT number you wish to check, and the system will return its current status and validity.
HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) Helpline
Another option for verifying a VAT number is to contact the HMRC VAT helpline. This method is particularly useful if you encounter issues or discrepancies when using the VIES system.
Why You Should Verify a VAT Number
Verifying a VAT number is crucial for businesses to ensure compliance with tax regulations, avoid potential penalties, and maintain accurate accounting records. For customers, checking a VAT number can help confirm the legitimacy of the business they are dealing with and provide peace of mind.
When to Check a VAT Number
It’s a good practice to verify a VAT number before entering
into a business transaction with a new supplier or customer. Regularly checking the VAT numbers of your existing partners can also help you stay compliant with tax regulations and maintain accurate records.
Common Issues with Number Verification
When verifying a VAT number, you may encounter some common issues, such as:
- An incorrect or incomplete number
- A recently registered or deregistered VAT number
- Technical issues with the VIES or HMRC systems
In such cases, you may need to seek clarification from the business you are dealing with or consult the HMRC helpline for assistance.
VAT Number Format in the UK
A UK VAT number consists of nine digits, preceded by the letters ‘GB’. For example: GB123456789. When verifying a VAT number, ensure that it follows this format and includes the correct number of digits.
Dealing with Invalid or Inactive Numbers
If you discover that a VAT number is invalid or inactive, it’s essential to address the issue promptly. Contact the business in question to seek clarification and, if necessary, request their updated VAT information. If you suspect any fraudulent activity, report it to HMRC immediately.
VAT Number Lookup for Non-UK Businesses
If you’re dealing with a business outside the UK, verifying their VAT number is essential. The process for checking VAT numbers for EU and non-EU businesses may differ slightly.
How to Check VAT Numbers for EU Businesses
You can use the VIES system to verify VAT numbers for businesses based in other EU countries. The process is similar to checking UK VAT numbers, but you will need to select the appropriate member state and enter the corresponding VAT number.
VAT Number Verification for Non-EU Businesses
For businesses based outside the EU, you may need to consult their local tax authority’s website or contact them directly to verify their VAT number. Be aware that the format and regulations for VAT numbers may vary between countries.
What is the VAT threshold for registration in the UK?
The current VAT registration threshold in the UK is £85,000 in taxable turnover.
Can I check a non-UK VAT number using the VIES system?
Yes, the VIES system allows you to verify VAT numbers for businesses based in other EU countries.
How do I report a suspected fraudulent VAT number?
If you suspect fraudulent activity related to a VAT number, report it to HMRC immediately.
What should I do if I find an invalid or inactive VAT number?
Contact the business in question to seek clarification and, if necessary, request their updated VAT information.
Do I need to check VAT numbers for businesses based outside the UK?
Yes, it’s essential to verify the VAT numbers of businesses you deal with, regardless of their location.