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HMRC internal manual

VAT Registration

HM Revenue & Customs
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Voluntary registration: how to establish entitlement to register as an intending trader: evidence required to confirm that the applicant is in business

What you are looking for here is evidence that the applicant is either:

  • already in business, or
  • in the process of setting up a new business.

Suggested forms of evidence to fulfil the business test are listed below. Please note that this list is of suggestions only: it is not exhaustive. Some items (for example, planning permission) may not always be relevant. In many cases, a single piece of evidence may suffice. We should ensure that our requests of such traders are kept to a minimum, but we have the legal authority to request further information if necessary.

Examples of the type of evidence that we should accept as meeting the ‘in-business’ test are

  • copies of invoices for expenditure you would expect a person either already in business or in the process of starting up a business to incur, for example, accountancy / consultancy fees in relation to relevant business advice
  • evidence of efforts to raise/ secure finance for a business, for example, correspondence with banks or finance institutions
  • evidence of efforts to enter into contracts for either procurement of stock for resale or for the supply of goods or services
  • a copy of a bid for a competitive tender - but ensure that this is still current at the date of the requested EDR
  • details of actual (or proposed) advertising or marketing campaigns.
  • evidence of efforts to obtain planning permission for a business purpose. Please ensure that that you are satisfied that such applications remain current. If the applicant has been refused planning permission prior to submission of the VAT1 and/ or the date of registration requested, alternative evidence may be required
  • any other evidence demonstrating that a business is in place, or is being set up, for example, accountants’ letters, business plans, minutes of meetings, and so on.