Looking to find or check a UK company’s VAT number? Find out how below:
What is a Company VAT Number and Why is it Important?
In the United Kingdom, a VAT number consists of nine digits and is easily recognisable by its prefix ‘GB’. For businesses operating in Northern Ireland and engaging in trade with the EU, the prefix ‘XI’ is used instead of ‘GB’.
Obtaining the VAT number from a business or supplier you conduct trade with is essential. Failure to possess a valid VAT number while attempting to reclaim VAT may result in the rejection of your tax claim by HMRC. In such a scenario, you may become liable for the tax amount or be required to undertake significant administrative work to resolve this situation.
While most VAT errors are innocent oversights, there can be instances where individuals may fraudulently utilise another business’s VAT number.
It’s important to note that not every UK business will have a VAT number. HMRC exclusively assigns numbers to businesses that are registered for VAT, whether it is mandatory (turnover more than £85,000) or voluntary registration (turnover less than £85,000).
How to Find a Company’s VAT Number
For a business to locate their own VAT number, they can refer to the VAT registration certificate they were issued by HMRC.
You can search for the VAT number of another business through various methods:
- Check invoices: All VAT-registered businesses will have their VAT number displayed on all their invoices.
- Visit the company’s website: Often, you can find the VAT number listed on a company’s website, usually in the footer or on the “Contact Us” page.
- Contact the company directly: If you cannot find the company’s VAT number on an invoice or website, contact them promptly. You’ll need to obtain a valid VAT invoice from the company in order to reclaim any VAT they may have charged you.
It’s important to emphasise that in the UK, all VAT-registered businesses are obligated to possess a VAT number. This should be displayed on all official documents and invoices. Non-VAT-registered companies will not have a VAT number.
How to Check a Company’s VAT Number
Once you’ve found a company’s VAT number, it’s essential that you also check its validity.
Here are a few ways you can go about checking if a company’s VAT number is valid:
Contact the HMRC VAT helpline
HMRC maintains a comprehensive database of all registered businesses, making it a reliable source and first port of call for checking the validity of a business’s VAT number.
You can reach the HMRC VAT helpline by phone at 0300 200 3700 for assistance.
Check the government website
You can also check a UK VAT number of a registered business via the GOV.UK website. This service will confirm whether the number is valid and provide the registered company name and address associated with the number.
UK VAT-registered businesses can also use this service to provide proof of checking a UK VAT number, requiring their own VAT number to do so.
Check the VIES website
Lastly, you can use the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) to verify a UK VAT number, as well as EU VAT numbers. Simply input the registration numbers and corresponding country codes in the specified field and you can check whether a company or supplier’s VAT ID is valid.
If VIES indicates that the supplier’s VAT registration is invalid, it is advisable to promptly contact them and obtain the correct number.
A business’s VAT number plays an important role in reclaiming VAT and conducting business transactions. Checking whether they’re valid is crucial not only for compliance between businesses and suppliers but also to avoid any potential issues with HMRC.
To navigate this process properly, it’s highly recommended to seek the assistance of a professional accountant. An accountant can provide valuable guidance and ensure that you meet all VAT requirements.