VAT returns in UK

Frequency of UK VAT returns

As a general rule, VAT returns are filed quarterly in the UK.

Monthly VAT returns can be requested by the taxpayer in case of regular repayment traders (e.g. Frequent exporters). HMRC may also ask a business to make monthly payments on account. These payments are advanced payments that are deducted from the overall quarterly payment when filing the quarterly VAT return. Payments on Account are mandatory for businesses with a VAT liability exceeding £2.3 million.

In the UK, the quarterly period does not always follow the calendar quarter. Businesses will choose their quarterly period when registering for online VAT services.

Annual VAT returns are allowed when your taxable turnover is below £1.35 million. The Annual VAT Accounting scheme requires advance payments throughout the year. Only one return is submitted for the complete 12-month period, this return may require a payment or a refund depending on the advance payments made during the year.  More information on Annual VAT accounting is available in the online information published by the authorities.

  • Frequency of filing

    • Monthly

      Regular repayment traders (upon request)

      Payments: VAT liability exceeds £2.3 million

    • Quarterly
      Standard reporting period
    • Annual

      Taxable turnover below £1.35 million

      (upon request)

UK VAT return due dates

You should check your VAT return submission and payment deadline in your HMRC online account. As a general rule, the due date to submit and pay VAT returns in the UK is the 7th day of the month following the reporting period.

More information about the applicable deadlines is available here.

Businesses on the Annual VAT accounting scheme have different deadlines. These deadlines are published by the tax authorities.

Also, those businesses on the Payments on Account scheme have different deadlines. You can check them in the online information published by the authorities.

If the due date falls on a Sunday or bank holiday, the date is shifted to the previous working day.

UK VAT payments

VAT payments in UK can be made using different systems. The tax authorities accept BACS, CHAPS, direct debit, credit card or payments through online telephone banking. The bank details change depending on the method used. Taxpayers should also take into account the applicable delays until the payment becomes effective, as there is a risk of late payment due to this delay.

Non-established companies will often make payments from an overseas account. The details to be used for these payments are the following:

IBAN number: GB36BARC20051773152391
Account holder: HMRC VAT
Bank address: Barclays Bank PLC; 1 Churchill Place; London; E14 5HP; United Kingdom.

The reference to be included when making VAT payments from an overseas bank account is the VAT number of companies. You should double check the above information before making a payment to HMRC.

More information in HMRC website.

UK VAT refunds

VAT repayments are automatically refunded by the UK tax authorities into the UK bank account of the company. It is not possible to carry forward a VAT credit to the next reporting period. Normally, it takes 10 to 15 days to get a VAT refund from the day the VAT return is submitted.

A UK bank account is mandatory to get your refunds via bank transfer. In case you do not have a UK account, HMRC will issue a cheque in the name of the company that can be cashed in an overseas bank account. If this check cannot be cashed, the business will need to open a UK bank account to get the VAT refund. It takes a longer time to get your VAT refunds via cheque.

The tax authorities may ask additional questions or carry an audit before accepting a repayment. In these cases, the VAT refund would be delayed.

More information is available in the online guidelines published by the authorities.

UK nil and corrective VAT returns

A nil VAT return needs to be submitted even if there are no transactions to be reported for that period.

Regarding corrections, there are two ways to correct your VAT returns:

  • Method 1: Adjusting the error in your current VAT return. This method can be used if the net value of your error does not exceed £10,000 or the error is between £10,000 and £50,000 but does not exceed 1% of box 6 for the current period.
  • Method 2: Submitting a corrective return with the form VAT652 or sending a Voluntary Disclosure (Error Correction Notice) to the competent tax officer. This method is mandatory if the net value of your error is between £10,000 and £50,000 and exceeds 1% of the box 6 amount for the current period during which the error is discovered or, in any case, if the error is greater than £50,000

More information on how to correct your VAT return is available in the VAT notice published by HMRC on VAT return corrections. 

VAT penalties in UK

The following table summarizes the VAT penalties regime in the UK:

  • Cause
  • Late filing
    In practice, there are no penalties for a late VAT return provided the payment has been made in time.  However, a "Surcharge Liability Notice" may be initiated when missing one return. See below
  • Late payment

    The UK authorities send a "warning" the first time a VAT return or a VAT payment is missed. The warning is called "Surcharge Liability Notice" and gives the taxpayer a 12-month trial period in which, if the error is repeated, a penalty will be charged

    In case the conditions in the Surcharge Liability Notice are not met (e.g. error repeated), a surcharge of 2% of the VAT due will apply. This penalty will increase to 5%, 10% or 15% if the error is repeated again. Also, an extended "Surcharge Liability Notice" will be issued

    More information available in the online guidance published by the tax authorities

  • Late registration

    As such, there is no one-off penalty for a late VAT registration. However, late VAT payment penalties in periods in which you are not VAT registered will be fined as follows:

    - Less than 9 months late: 5% of VAT due

    - 9 to18 months late: 10% of VAT due

    - More than 18 months late: 15% of VAT due

If an intra-Community acquisition or any other purchase under the reverse charge mechanism is missed, the UK authorities will normally not apply any penalty.

Additional penalties may be charged by the authorities, particularly in case of fraud.

For penalties on ECSL, Intrastat and other returns, please see the relevant section.

Reverse Charge Sales Listing (RCSL) in UK

UK authorities require a specific return to be filed by businesses supplying mobile phones or computer chips that are subject to domestic reverse charge on specific goods. This return does not include supplies of other specific goods and services subject to domestic reverse charge. For example, reverse charge supplies on gas and electricity are not included in the Reverse Charge Sales Listing.

Companies making supplies that need to be reported in this return must notify HMRC within 30 days from the day the first reverse charge supply was made. They should also inform the UK authorities in case they stop making such supplies.

If your business only makes purchases of mobile phones and computer chips to which the reverse charge applies, you do not need to submit a RCSL return.

Frequency of filing and due dates

The frequency of filing and due date of RCSL returns follows the VAT return frequency of filing and due dates.

  • Businesses filing monthly VAT returns must file monthly RCSL by the same due date as their VAT return
  • Businesses filing quarterly VAT returns must file monthly RCSL by the same due date as their VAT return
  • Businesses filing annual VAT returns must file monthly RCSL by the same due date as their VAT return
  • Businesses filing VAT returns for non-standard periods must file RCSL for those same periods and due dates

Way of filing

The RCSL return is filed electronically using the online system provided by HMRC. Business should enrol to the online RCSL return from their online portal.

For each customer to which reverse charge of mobile phones and computer chips have been supplied, the following data must be included in the RCSL return:

  • UK VAT registration number of the customer
  • The total net value of reverse charge sales made to that customer in each month. Monthly numbers should be reported even by companies filing quarterly RCSL
  • Contact name and telephone number


A nil RCSL return MUST be submitted in case there are no transactions reported.

Corrective RCSL

In case inaccurate or wrong information is reported in your RCSL, you need to file a corrective return. If a business has submitted the RCSL using the online HMRC service, you can simply add, delete or change lines in the form. If the return has been submitted using a CSV file, you will need to resubmit the complete CSV file with the correct data.

Penalties for late RCSL

In case HMRC finds out that you have included incorrect data in your RCSL, you will be fined with a penalty of £100.

If you file a RCSL late, you will be charged with a penalty calculated on a daily basis. There is a maximum of 100 days computed for your penalty. Also, the amount will increase depending as each further default occurs.

The following rates apply:

  • 1st time a RCSL is filed late: £5 / day up to a maximum of 100 days
  • 2nd time a RCSL is filed late: £10 / day up to a maximum of 100 days
  • 3nd and subsequent times a RCSL is filed late: £15 / day up to a maximum of 100 days


UK Tax authorities contact

UK has a dedicated department for non-established companies. All VAT registrations for these businesses, as well as other VAT matters, are handled by the Non-established Taxable Persons Unit (NETPU).

Ruby House
8 Ruby Place
AB10 1ZP


Teléfono: +44 3000 527458

Established businesses should check in their VAT registration certificate the office that has been allocated to the company."

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