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If you buy goods or services for your business in the UK, you may have to pay VAT on them. You may be able to reclaim the VAT you paid in the UK if you're registered as a business in your own country, and bought the goods or services to use in your business.
There's a Refund Scheme that you might be able to use to reclaim this VAT. What you can reclaim depends on the UK's rules for claiming input tax. This guide explains who can use the Refund Scheme, what you can and can't claim under the scheme, how to make a claim and how you'll be paid.
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If you're registered as a business in a non-EU country you can use the Refund Scheme to reclaim VAT paid in the UK as long as all of the following apply:
But if you do make supplies in the UK, you can still use the scheme if the only supplies you make here are either:
You can use the scheme to reclaim VAT on certain goods and services you buy for business use in the UK, including:
You can't use the Refund Scheme to reclaim VAT on goods or services you buy for resale. This might include things like hotel accommodation you buy to resell.
Also you can't reclaim VAT on:
If you bring in goods to use in your business from outside the EU into the UK - these are called imports - you may have to pay VAT on the imports in the UK.
You can use the Refund Scheme to reclaim the VAT you've paid on these imports unless you either:
You need to complete a VAT 65A form to make your claim and send it to the address on the form.
You can make a refund claim yourself or you can use an agent, it's up to you. To be able to act for you and receive money on your behalf, your agent will need a letter of authority.
'We [name and address of business] hereby authorise [name and address of agent] to:
We hereby undertake to repay any amounts wrongfully received.
This letter of authority cancels and replaces any previous letters of authority.
You must claim your refund no later than six months after the end of the 'prescribed year' when you were charged the VAT. The prescribed year runs from 1 July to 30 June, so you must make a claim by 31 December. If you miss the deadline, you won't be able to make a claim for that year.
Your claim can't be for a period of:
There's no limit to the maximum amount you can claim. But the UK has set the following minimum limits:
You can include items missed on earlier claims so long as they related to VAT charged in the calendar year of the claim.
You must send HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) the original invoices for all the VAT you are reclaiming.
When you make a claim for the first time - and every 12 months after that - you must also send HMRC an official certificate that shows you're registered as a business in your country. This certificate – which must be an original, not a photocopy – must show:
Each certificate is valid for 12 months from the date it's issued. It covers all the claims you make during that year. Once the certificate runs out you'll need to send a new one with your next claim.
HMRC will normally pay you within six months of receiving your claim, unless they need you to provide more information. Your invoices will be returned to you once HMRC has authorised your claim. If you have any queries about a claim you have submitted, you should contact the VAT Overseas Repayment Unit on Tel 028 7130 5100 if you're phoning from the UK, or on Tel +44 28 7130 5100 if you're calling from outside the UK.
You can choose to have your refund paid:
Payment by SWIFT is faster, less expensive and more secure, so it is a good method to choose. If you choose this method of payment, you should provide the following information on form VAT 65A, and enclose a copy of a bank credit slip:
HMRC will make all payments in pounds sterling. If you have to pay bank charges on the transfer they may be deducted from the amount of your refund.
You can help to ensure that your claim won't be refused by making sure:
If your claim is refused HMRC will always tell you why. If you don't agree with HMRC's decision, you can either ask HMRC to review the decision, or you can appeal to an independent tribunal.
If HMRC finds your claim isn't correct after the refund has been paid, they'll normally deduct any overpayment from your next refund.
If you've claimed too much, HMRC will get back the amount you've been overpaid by deducting it from the next refund, and you may incur a penalty for sending in an incorrect claim, so you do need to make sure your claim is right.
The UK authorities take a very serious view of false claims. They can recover any refunds obtained by a false claim and can charge you a penalty.