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HMRC internal manual

Venture Capital Schemes Manual

Venture Capital Trusts: VCT returns: return of amounts subscribed for eligible shares: format of return

Guidance and specifications for making annual information returns

The return MUST be submitted in one of two formats specified below using one of the relevant approved methods of submission.

1. Electronic text file

Files must be in ASCII/EBC/DIC. The content of files should conform with the VCT Electronic Flat Text File specification 

This will create a flat text file (CSV files are not acceptable), which you can submit by one of the means detailed in your notice.

2. VCT spreadsheet

You can send HMRC your return on an excel spreadsheet that is pre-structured to the required format. The spreadsheet can be downloaded using the link below.

To help you successfully submit the information by spreadsheet it has been updated to include conditional formatting. If you enter too many characters in a cell the spreadsheet column header in row one will turn red and will stay red until you have removed any excess characters. We have now updated the formatting so that it will detail on row 1 the number of errors and the position of the first error.

If you submit the spreadsheet to HMRC without removing the excess characters, the submission will automatically fail and the return will continue to be outstanding. You will need to resubmit an amended spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet:

  • is in Excel version 2003 (.xls)
  • can accept 65,536 rows of information
  • can’t convert to the later version of Excel (.xlsx)
  • does not check the accuracy or suitability of the data entered

If you need a later version of the spreadsheet please email and tell us which spreadsheet you need.

As with electronic text file returns, the VCT spreadsheet can be submitted by any of the means detailed in your notice.

Secure Electronic Transfer system (‘SET’)

Information about SET can be found on the HMRC website 

The time taken to register for SET can vary so please ensure that you allow sufficient time to meet the return submission date.

Data security

Our latest guidance on data security, including submission of passwords, is detailed in our Return problem solver bulletin which is published centrally on our website and can be accessed using the link below:

returns problem solver 

Centre for National Information

Returns or the VCT spreadsheet that are not submitted via SET or email should be sent to:

HMRC Risk and Intelligence Service
Centre for National Information
Ty Glas Road
CF14 5ZG

HMRC strongly recommends that returns are suitably packaged and are sent securely by means that record delivery or can be tracked in the case of delivery failure. All returns sent to Cardiff should be suitably labelled and accompanied by an appropriate submission document.

For queries relating to the submission of your return such as:

  • to check if a return has been received or if it has passed
  • to update contact details
  • or to request submission guidance or a new sub number or closure of an existing sub number

Please e-mail


Penalties may be charged under TMA70/S98 for failure to make a return or for making an incorrect return.