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HMRC internal manual

VAT Traders’ Records Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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VAT invoice: Use of coded descriptions of goods

Details of arrangements for using coded descriptions on a VAT invoice in the wholesale trade are given in VATREC16025.

Coded descriptions may also be accepted in certain other circumstances, for example, where firms whose trade is restricted to a large number of specialised parts or fittings issue illustrated catalogues to their customers (a common practice with builders’ merchants).

These catalogues quote details such as a part number, a size and a name. Normally the customer orders on the basis of the part number and the sales invoice shows only the part numbers as a description of the goods. You may accept such sales invoices as giving an adequate description of the goods sold provided that the trade outlets are supplied with an up-to-date catalogue that is made available to any inspecting officer on request.