Dealing with HMRC – guidance

VAT online services for agents

How to register and use VAT for Agents, VAT EU Refunds, EC Sales List and Reverse Charge Sales List online services.

Overview

There are several online services for VAT in the HMRC Online Services tool, these are:

You must be a VAT registered agent to use the ECSL or RCSL services.

To use the VAT for Agents or VAT EU Refunds services you’ll either need to:

To add each service to your HMRC Online Services account, log in, go to ‘Your HMRC services’, then choose ‘Services you can add’.

If you don’t have an HMRC Online Services account you’ll need to register as a new user through the service.

VAT agent reference number

If you’re not VAT-registered you can apply for a VAT agent reference number to use:

You must apply for the reference number, then wait until the day after it shows on your HMRC Online Services account before you add any of these services.

If you’re VAT-registered, you don’t need to apply for a reference number to use VAT online services. When you log in to HMRC Online Services, your company’s VAT number will automatically be shown instead.

VAT for Agents

You can use the VAT for Agents online service to:

  • submit your clients’ VAT Returns and final VAT Return (VAT193)
  • view clients’ VAT Returns submitted online within the last 15 months
  • set up clients’ Direct Debit instruction to pay HMRC - you must be an authorised signatory on a client’s bank account to do this
  • ask for changes to your clients’ registration details, for example business name or contact details
  • cancel a client’s VAT registration or apply for them to be exempt from VAT
  • set up reminders and receive messages from HMRC about your clients’ VAT

How to register for the VAT for Agents service

To sign up for the VAT for Agents service:

  1. Log in to your HMRC Online Services account.
  2. Go to ‘Your HMRC services’ and choose ‘Services you can add’.
  3. Choose ‘VAT for Agents’ from the list.
  4. Enter the identification details asked for during set up.

You’ll be sent an activation code in the post within 10 working days of signing up for the service.

If you lose your activation code you can sign in to the Government Gateway and ask for a replacement by following the ‘activate’ link under ‘action’.

You must activate VAT for Agents within 28 days of the date on the letter, or you’ll have to complete the sign up process again.

Set up authorisation to act for each client

Once you’ve enrolled for the VAT for Agents service, you need to use it to set up your authorisation to act for each client individually.

You won’t be able to submit a client’s VAT Return online unless you’ve set up authorisation through the service.

To set up authorisation you’ll need your client’s:

  • VAT registration number
  • principal place of business postcode
  • effective date of registration for VAT
  • final month of the last VAT Return submitted to HMRC
  • figure from ‘box 5’ on the last VAT Return submitted to HMRC - enter N/A if your client is new to VAT and has no previous return

Use these details to add a client to your VAT for Agents account. HMRC will then post a unique authorisation code to your client. The code will contain the letters ‘VT’.

Enter the code into the service to complete the authorisation. It will expire within 30 days, so make sure your client knows they’ll receive a letter and ask them to give the code to you as soon as possible.

Once you’ve entered the code you should see your client in your VAT for Agents client list within 24 hours.

How to submit clients’ VAT Returns online

Most VAT-registered businesses have to submit VAT Returns online.

Once a client is in your VAT for Agents client list you can submit their VAT Returns online through either:

You can’t correct a client’s VAT return through the VAT for Agents service. You’ll need to follow the guidance on how to correct a VAT return already submitted.

Set up VAT Return email reminders

You can set up email reminders through the VAT for Agents service. The reminders will tell you when clients’ VAT Return are due and will be sent around 6 weeks before returns are due.

To set this up:

  1. Go to ‘Your HMRC services’ and follow the ‘Your account’ link in the left hand menu.
  2. Add your email to the ‘Your contact details’ section and choose to activate email reminders.

ECSL and RCSL online services

You must be a VAT registered agent to use the ECSL and RCSL online services.

You’ll automatically be given access to these services when you enrol for the VAT for Agents service. But you can’t set up your client list in either service.

You client must authorise you to act as their agent for each service. They need to enroll in the service first, then they can appoint you as you as their agent through the Government Gateway. They’ll need to:

  1. Log in to HMRC Online Services and enrol for either ECSL or RCSL - they’ll need to use the VAT registration number for their business to do this.
  2. Log in to their Government Gateway account.
  3. Go to ‘manage services’.
  4. Select ‘Appoint agent’ - your client will need to enter your agent reference number to link their VAT number to your agent online account.

HMRC will then post a unique authorisation code to your client. They’ll need to enter this into the service to complete the authorisation.

Once your client has entered the code you should see them in your ECSL or RCSL client list within 24 hours.

VAT EU Refunds for Agents

Businesses registered for UK VAT must reclaim VAT paid in another EU country online. You can use the VAT EU Refunds for Agents to do this on behalf of your clients.

Use the same process as VAT for Agents to register and set up authorisation to act for individual clients. You’ll be given the option to register for both services at the same time, but you need to set up separate client lists for each service.

When you apply for authorisation to act on behalf of a client through VAT EU Refunds for Agents, your client will be sent an authorisation code that contains the letters ‘VR’. Enter the code into the service to complete the authorisation process.