2. How to register

Register for VAT

Most businesses can register online - including partnerships and a group of companies registering under one VAT number.

By doing this you’ll register for VAT and create a VAT online account (sometimes known as a ‘Government Gateway account’). You need this to submit your VAT Returns to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Using an agent

You can appoint an accountant (or agent) to submit your VAT Returns and deal with HMRC on your behalf.

When you receive your VAT number from HMRC, you can sign up for a VAT online account (select option ‘VAT submit returns’).

When you can’t register online

You must register by post if:

  • you want to apply for a ‘registration exception
  • you’re an EU business ‘distance selling’ to the UK
  • you import (‘acquire’) goods from another EU country
  • you’re joining the Agricultural Flat Rate Scheme
  • you’re registering the divisions or business units of a body corporate under separate VAT numbers
  • you’re disposing of assets on which 8th or 13th Directive refunds have been claimed

When you receive your VAT number from HMRC, you can sign up for a VAT online account (select option ‘VAT submit returns’).

How long does it take?

You should get a VAT registration certificate within 14 working days, though it can take longer.

It’s sent either:

  • to your VAT online account
  • by post - if an agent registers you or you can’t register online

What you need to know

You need to provide details like your turnover, business activity and bank details.

Your registration date is known as your ‘effective date of registration’. You’ll have to pay HMRC any VAT due from this date.

You don’t need to authorise an agent to register you for VAT.

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