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When do you need a UK VAT number?

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When do you need a UK VAT number?

As a general rule, a foreign business must register for VAT in UK as soon as a taxable supply is made. Registrations thresholds no longer apply to non-established companies. The following are some usual examples of taxable transactions:

  • Domestic supply of goods not reverse charged: A supply of goods located in UK where reverse charge does not apply requires a VAT registration of the supplier.
  • Supply of services not reverse charged: Foreign non-established businesses supplying services on which UK VAT is due must register for VAT. These services are rather exceptional, as the general B2B rule would apply.
  • Import: Importing goods into UK requires a VAT number before importation.
  • Export: Exporting goods to a non-EU country requires a VAT number before the export is made.
  • Intra-Community acquisition: Acquiring goods from another Member State where all conditions for intra-Community movements are met requires the customer to register for VAT. 
  • Intra-Community supply: Supplying goods another Member State is also a taxable transaction that obliges the supplier to register for VAT.  
  • Distance sales above the threshold also require a VAT number. See UK distance sales rules for more information (update link). 

Companies can also register voluntarily in the UK. For example, if they are incurring UK VAT but not making any taxable transaction, it is possible to register for VAT and claim the VAT incurred via the VAT return instead of the 8th or 13th Directive.

The VAT registration threshold for established UK companies is £82,000. As mentioned above, this limit does not apply to non-established businesses.

A backdated registration is possible. See backdated registrations (update link) and regularizations for more information.