All of your business’s VAT-registered suppliers will have a unique registration number. If your business is also VAT registered, you’ll need your own supplier’s VAT number in order to reclaim any VAT you’ve paid to your suppliers.

This handy guide will help you understand what a VAT registration number is, why it’s important and how to find it.

What is a VAT registration number?

A VAT number is a unique ID that HMRC provides to businesses when they register for VAT. In the UK, VAT numbers are nine digits long and always have the prefix ‘GB’.

If you’re dealing with a supplier in another EU country then its VAT number will follow a different format, with its own unique country code. HMRC provides a list of ID formats from European Union member states on its website.

Why is it important?

If you reclaim VAT without a valid VAT number from your supplier, it could lead to HMRC rejecting your claim. If this happens, you could be left footing the bill or dealing with a severe amount of admin to rectify the situation!

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 supplied to you. If the business is registered for VAT then its unique ID should be listed on all of their invoices.

If you pay VAT to a supplier but there is no registration number on the invoice they provide you should contact them immediately – you'll need to have a valid VAT invoice from them in order to reclaim any VAT they've charged you.

Checking a VAT number is valid

There are a couple of ways to check that a VAT registration number is valid:

Calling the HMRC VAT helpline

HMRC has a complete database of VAT-registered businesses, so if you’re in any doubt about a registration number you should call their VAT helpline on 0300 200 3700.

Checking the VIES website

You can use the European Union’s VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) to check the validity of both UK VAT numbers and VAT numbers from the wider EU. By entering the registration numbers and relevant country codes into the fields provided, you can check if a supplier’s VAT number is valid.

If the supplier’s VAT registration is shown as invalid by VIES, you should contact them to get the right VAT number as soon as you can.

Your business’s VAT number in FreeAgent

If your business is VAT registered, FreeAgent will automatically add your VAT number to any invoices you send from the software. You can also submit MTD-compatible VAT returns directly to HMRC from your account.

Find out more about how FreeAgent tackles the complexities of the UK VAT system to calculate what you owe.

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