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.

Problems with access to and accuracy of monthly VAT statements

We are still looking into the problems some importers are having when trying to access their statements. In the meantime, if you do not have access to statements but need to complete your VAT Return, you can estimate your import VAT figures for those months.

We are also aware of the issues with January 2021 and February 2021 statements. The cause has been identified and we can now give details on how to complete your VAT returns for the affected accounting periods.

If you take reasonable care to follow the guidance about how to complete your VAT return if you have problems with your monthly statements, but make an error completing your VAT return, there will be no penalty.

Overview

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

  • any customs entries you have made in your own records
  • copies of your monthly postponed import VAT statement, when available

Unless you have delayed your customs declaration, each of your statements will show the total import VAT postponed for the previous month.

How to complete your VAT Return

Due to postponed VAT accounting, there are changes to the way you complete the boxes on your return.

Postponed import VAT must be accounted for on the return for the accounting period which covers the date you imported the goods.

The normal rules about what VAT can be reclaimed as input tax will apply, and your monthly statement will contain the information you’ll need 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 do not have a statement and have delayed your customs declaration.

Box 4

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

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 are 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 calculating 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 goods that are not controlled into Great Britain 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 on your VAT Return

You should make your estimate as accurate as possible, based on the amount you have paid for the goods and any other costs you have 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 are a VAT group representative member

You will need your group members to provide copies of their import VAT statements so that you can complete the VAT Return for the whole group.

Transactions or movements of goods which span the end of the transition period

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

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 your VAT return if you have problems with your monthly statements

What you need to do if you cannot access your statements

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

  • packaging
  • transport
  • insurance

You can also include customs duties due on the goods, but you do not have to.

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.

What you need to do if you can access your statements

If you have already completed your quarterly return ending January 2021

When completing your VAT 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.

Completing your quarterly return ending February 2021

Complete your VAT 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.

Completing your quarterly return ending March 2021

Complete your VAT 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.

Completing your 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.

Completing your 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 31 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. Information about problems accessing January 2021 and February 2021 statements and completing your monthly and quarterly VAT Returns has been added.

  2. 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.

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

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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.

  9. Welsh translation added.

  10. First published.