Guidance

Complete your VAT Return to account for import VAT

Find out how to account for import VAT on your VAT Return if you're using postponed VAT accounting.

HMRC is aware of the problems some importers are having when trying to access their monthly VAT statements.

If you cannot access your statement or you’re having problems when viewing your statement, you should follow the guidance on how to complete a VAT Return if you’re having problems with your monthly statements.

As long as you take reasonable care to follow the guidance, there will be no penalty for errors.

Overview

If you’re a UK VAT-registered business and account for import VAT on your return, you’ll need:

  • details of any customs entries you’ve made in your own records
  • copies of your monthly postponed import VAT statement (when available)

Unless you’ve delayed your customs declaration, each of your statements will show the total import VAT postponed for the previous month. Find out more about how to get a postponed import VAT statement and how to understand and use your statements.

How to complete your VAT Return

You must account for postponed import VAT on your return, for the accounting period which covers the date you imported the goods.

The normal rules apply for what VAT can be reclaimed as input tax and your monthly statement will contain the information to support your claim.

Box 1

Include the VAT due in this period on imports accounted for through postponed VAT accounting. You’ll be able to get this information from your online monthly statement, or you must estimate the amount if you’ve delayed your customs declaration and do not have a statement.

Box 4

Include the VAT reclaimed in this period on imports accounted for through postponed VAT accounting. You must estimate the amount if you have delayed your customs declaration and do not have a statement.

Box 7

Include the total value of all imports of goods in this period, not including any VAT.

Find more information about how to fill in and submit your VAT Return (VAT Notice 700/12).

If you use a VAT accounting scheme

Flat Rate Scheme for small businesses

If you’re using the Flat Rate Scheme for small businesses and are accounting for import VAT on your VAT Return, you must add the value of the imported goods to the total of all your supplies, before you do the scheme calculation.

Find more information about working out the VAT due on sales in VAT Notice 700/12, section 4.1.

VAT Cash Accounting Scheme

You cannot use the VAT Cash Accounting Scheme for goods you import or remove from a customs warehouse.

If you delay your customs declaration

If you import non-controlled goods into Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) from the EU between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021 and delay your customs declaration, you must account for import VAT on the return, which includes the date you imported the goods.

To complete the boxes on your return, you’ll need to estimate the import VAT due from your records of imported goods.

When you submit your delayed declaration, you must select that you’re accounting for your VAT on your return. Your next online monthly statement will show the amount of import VAT due on that declaration. You’ll then be able to:

  • adjust your estimate
  • account for any difference on your next return

How to estimate import VAT

You should make your estimate as accurate as possible, based on the amount you’ve paid for the goods and any other costs you agreed to cover. For example:

  • packaging
  • transport
  • insurance

Your estimate can include any customs duties due on the goods, but it does not have to do so.

After you submit your declaration, your next monthly statement will reflect the actual import VAT due. This amount will take into account import VAT due on any additional customs duties.

You’ll need to make a final adjustment to reflect the difference from your estimate and account for this on your next return.

If you’re a VAT group representative member

You’ll need to collect copies of each member’s import VAT statements, so you can complete the VAT Return for the whole group.

Transactions or movements of goods on or after the transition period

Goods arriving into Great Britain from an EU member state, on or after the end of the transition period, will be subject to UK customs procedures and import duties (including import VAT), in the same way as goods imported from outside of the EU.

If the movement of your goods started before the end of the transition period, and the goods arrived on or after 1 January 2021, you’ll need to check how the VAT should be accounted for.

How to complete a VAT Return if you’re having problems with your monthly statements

If you cannot access your statements

You can estimate your import VAT figures for the months you cannot access statements for.

Your estimate should be as accurate as possible, based on the amount you’ve paid for the goods and any other costs you agreed to cover. For example:

  • packaging
  • transport
  • insurance

Your estimate can include any customs duties due on the goods, but it does not have to do so.

Once you can access the service and get your statement, you’ll need to make an adjustment to reflect the difference from your estimate, and account for this on your next return.

If you use simplified declarations for imports

If you’re authorised to use simplified declarations for imports, you have a few days at the beginning of each month to submit supplementary declarations for goods imported in the previous month.

HMRC has identified an issue where these entries are not being allocated to the correct monthly statement. We’re actively seeking a solution to this problem and will give an update as soon as possible. In the meantime, you have 2 options:

  • you can use the figures on your import VAT statements to complete your VAT Return
  • if you can identify the affected entries, you can reallocate them to the correct monthly statement and use these figures to complete your VAT Return

Check your previous VAT Returns if you had problems with your monthly statements

If there were errors on your January and February statements, you should check you completed your Quarter 1 returns using the following guidance.

The errors were rectified on the replacement statements produced in April 2021.

If you find you’ve made a mistake or did not follow this guidance, you must follow the VAT corrections guidance.

Quarterly return ending January 2021

When completing your return for April 2021, you should revisit the January 2021 statement. You may see up to 3 statements for that month.

You will need to compare your estimate with the figures in the January 2021 statement with an April 2021 production date on each page. You should make any change on your April 2021 return, if necessary.

Quarterly return ending February 2021

Complete your return using the figures available from the January 2021 and February 2021 statements. The statements for February 2021 are showing as January 2021 in error. However, they will only have February 2021 entries and a March 2021 production date on each page.

Do not include any entries on the January 2021 statement which are duplicated on the February 2021 statement. The total postponed import VAT for the 2 months will be correct once the duplicates have been excluded.

Further versions of both the January 2021 and February 2021 statements will be produced early April 2021. This will remove the duplicate entries and will amend the ‘month’ heading.

You can make a change on your next return, if the figures on these statements are different to those that you included on your VAT return.

Quarterly return ending March 2021

Complete your return using the most recent version of the statements that have been produced for each of the months in this quarter. In most cases there only be one statement headed February 2021. You will see up to 3 statements for January 2021, so should use the one showing an April 2021 production date.

Monthly return ending February 2021

Complete your return using the figures in the statement covering the February 2021 entries. The statement will be shown as January 2021 but will have February 2021 entries, with a March 2021 production date on each page.

Monthly return ending March 2021

Use the most recent statements to review your January 2021 and February 2021 returns. In most cases there should be one statement headed February 2021. For January 2021, you will see up to 3 statements, so you should use the one showing an April 2021 production date.

Published 27 July 2020
Last updated 1 September 2021 + show all updates
  1. Information about how to complete a VAT return if you're having problems with your monthly statements, when you're authorised to use simplified declarations for imports has been added.

  2. Information about problems accessing January 2021 and February 2021 statements and completing your monthly and quarterly VAT Returns has been added.

  3. The end date when you must account for import VAT on your VAT Return if you delay your customs declaration or use a simplified customs declaration has been changed from 30 June 2021 to 31 December 2021.

  4. The information about January and February statements has been updated.

  5. Information about February entries on your January statement has been added.

  6. Information has been added to explain how to complete your return if you cannot download your postponed import VAT statements. In addition, a new section 'If you're a VAT group representative' has been added to the page.

  7. New sections 'If you use a VAT Accounting Scheme' and 'Transactions or movements of goods which span the end of the transition period' have been added to the page.

  8. Information on getting access to your postponed import VAT statement has been added.

  9. Details on how to estimate your import VAT on your VAT return has been added. Additional guidance on your statements and how long they will be available has been added.

  10. Welsh translation added.

  11. First published.