How to register for VAT

To register for VAT, you need to apply to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). If HMRC approves your application, they will send you a VAT registration number and certificate.

Most applications for VAT registration can be completed online.

This guide explains how to apply for VAT registration online and by post, and provides links to the forms that you will need.

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How to register for VAT

To apply for VAT registration, you can either use HMRC's online services or send paper forms through the post. Most applications for VAT registration can be completed online but there are some circumstances where you have to apply by post. These are explained later in this guide. Read the section 'When you must apply by post for VAT registration'.

Applying online for VAT registration is:

  • more secure
  • faster - the form takes less time to fill in and there are no postal delays
  • easier - there is on-screen help which guides you through the process
  • certain - you get an immediate on-screen acknowledgment that HMRC has received your application

If you apply for VAT registration online, HMRC will also:

  • Enrol you automatically for VAT Online so you can submit your VAT Returns online and change your business details.
  • Make your certificate of registration available to you online from the 'Your HMRC services' page.

Please note: if a tax agent or adviser submits the application on your behalf, HMRC won't automatically enroll you for VAT Online. You'll need to do this separately. Also, HMRC will send your certificate of registration to you in the post.

You must have a separate Government Gateway account (User ID and Password) for each business that you want to register with HMRC for VAT purposes.

How to sign up to use VAT online services

Waiting for your VAT registration

It can take some time for your application for registration to be considered.

Find out about waiting for VAT registration and what to do in the meantime

If you don't live in the UK or your place of business isn't in the UK

From 1 December 2012, if you don't have a business or fixed establishment here, the UK VAT registration threshold will no longer apply to you.

Your registration date will be the earliest date that

  • you make taxable supplies here
  • you expect to make taxable supplies here within the next 30 days

You must register as a Non-Established Taxable Person (NETP). If you're doing this by post, you can download the application form VAT 1.

Get form VAT 1 to register as a NETP

If you know that you will have to register for VAT in the UK when the rules change, you may want to register in advance. You do this by applying for registration in the usual way but requesting a later registration date. You will be registered for VAT from your chosen date if HMRC receive your request within three months of that date. For example, if you know you will be liable to register from 1 December 2012, HMRC will register you with effect from that date if they receive your request on or after 2 September.

Find out more about registering for VAT if you don't have a place of business in the UK

Read more about the VAT registration threshold for NETPs in Revenue & Customs Brief 31/12

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How to apply online for VAT registration

To register online for VAT or use other VAT online services, you first need to sign up for HMRC Online Services or the Government Gateway.

Find out how to sign up to use VAT online services

If you have already signed up for HMRC Online Services or the Government Gateway, you can log in to HMRC Online Services now to register for VAT.

Please note: You must have a separate Government Gateway account (User ID and Password) for each business that you want to register with HMRC for VAT purposes. This will allow HMRC to automatically enrol the business for VAT Online once your registration application has been processed. You will then be able to file your VAT returns and change registration details online.

Log in to HMRC Online Services to register for VAT

There are some circumstances when you can't apply online for VAT registration. Read the section 'When you must apply by post for VAT registration' later in this guide

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How to apply by post for VAT registration

If you don't use HMRC's online services to register for VAT, you can download, print and post the form(s). But you will still need to submit your VAT Returns online.

If you are applying for basic registration, you will need to use a form VAT 1.

Get form VAT 1 and guidance to apply for VAT registration

Partnerships

If you have completed a paper VAT 1 and you're registering a partnership, you will also have to complete form VAT 2 to tell HMRC who the partners are.

You should download and attach a completed VAT 2 to your registration application.

Get form VAT 2 to register a partnership for VAT

Groups of companies

If you have completed a paper VAT 1 and you want to register two or more companies, or other corporate bodies, as one entity with one VAT registration number, you will also have to complete forms VAT 50 and VAT 51.

Find out about group, division or joint venture VAT registration

Get form VAT 50 Application for VAT Group Treatment

Get form VAT 51 to register company details for VAT Group Treatment

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When you must apply by post for VAT registration

There are some circumstances when you can't use HMRC's online services to register for VAT and you must send a paper form.

Exception from registration

If you want to ask HMRC if they can make an exception - that is, allow you not to register for VAT - you must send them a letter, telling them why you are applying for an exception. The letter should provide evidence and explain why the value of your taxable supplies will not go over the deregistration threshold in the next 12 months.

Read more about when to register for VAT

Get form VAT 1 Application for Registration

VAT registration application for European Union (EU) businesses 'distance selling' to UK customers

If you distance sell into the UK, you must register for UK VAT if the value of your distance sales is more than £70,000 in a year. You should use form VAT 1A Application for Registration - Distance Selling.

Find out more about distance selling into the UK and registering for VAT

Get form VAT 1A

Application for registration if you acquire goods from other EU countries

If you acquire goods from another EU country and the value of those goods is over the current registration threshold, you must register for UK VAT. You should use form VAT 1B Application for Registration - Acquisitions.

Find out more about registering for VAT if you acquire goods from other EU countries

Get form VAT 1B

Read about international trade and VAT

Disposing of assets on which 8th or 13th Directive refunds have been claimed

In certain circumstances, you must register for VAT if you sell, supply or otherwise dispose of an asset on which someone has claimed, or intends to claim, an 8th or 13th Directive refund. You should use form VAT 1C VAT Registration Notification.

Read about the registration requirements when disposing of 8th or 13th Directive assets

Get form VAT 1C

Agricultural Flat Rate Scheme

If you're a farmer, there is a separate Agricultural Flat Rate Scheme. You can't apply to join it online. If you decide the scheme isn't for you, you can still apply for standard VAT registration online.

Read more about the Agricultural Flat Rate Scheme in VAT notice 700/46

VAT registration for divisions or business units

A body corporate with business units or divisions which are not limited companies may be able to register each of them separately for VAT. You can't do this online.

Find out how to register business units or divisions for VAT

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More useful links

Changes to your business details and your VAT registration

Cancelling your VAT registration

Closing or selling your business and VAT registration

Find out when you must register for VAT and when you may register voluntarily

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