Fill in your return

Complete and send your VAT Return online.

You cannot use your online account to send your VAT Return if you’ve signed up for ‘Making Tax Digital for VAT’. Use compatible accounting software instead.

If you need help there’s guidance on:

You must include EU sales on your VAT return and complete an EC Sales List.

Working out what you can claim

If your business is a charity, you pay VAT at a reduced rate on some goods and services.

VAT-registered businesses can usually reclaim the VAT they’ve paid on business purchases and expenses. The claim must be for a business activity (you have to work out the business element if it also had a personal use).

You must keep records to support your claim and show the VAT was paid.


You cannot reclaim the VAT on:

There are special rules for working out how to reclaim VAT for:

Estimated figures

Ask HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for permission to use estimated figures. You’ll need a good reason why you cannot give accurate figures on your VAT Return.

If you’re allowed, you will not be charged a penalty unless you miss the deadline or make a careless or deliberate error. You’ll normally have to give the correct figures in your next VAT Return.

Bad debts

You can reclaim the VAT you’ve paid HMRC but not received from a customer if it’s a ‘bad debt’ (one you’ve written off). To qualify for the relief:

  • the debt must be between 6 months old and 4 years and 6 months old
  • you must not have sold the debt on
  • you must not have charged more than the normal price for the item

You should reclaim them via your VAT Return (add them to your Box 4 figure) and keep records about the debt.

If the debt is paid, you must pay the relief back via your VAT Return by adding the amount to your ‘Box 1’ figure.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need to follow this process

    You need to follow this process if you're moving goods to a country outside the EU.

    What you need to do is different if you are:

    1. Get exporting advice on
  2. Step 2 Check the rules for exporting your goods

    Check if you need a licence or certificate to export your goods from the UK. You also need to check if there are any restrictions or special rules in the country you want to export to.

    1. Check if you need a UK licence or certificate to export your goods
    2. Check the duties, rules and restrictions for your goods in the destination country

    The rules for trading with some countries outside the EU might change after Brexit.

    1. Check if the UK has negotiated a trade agreement with the country you are exporting to after Brexit
  3. Step 3 Register your business for exporting

    1. Get an EORI number
    2. Check if you should register for VAT

    You can apply for simplified declaration procedures and for Authorised Economic Operator status. These are most suitable for businesses that export goods regularly.

    1. Find out about using simplified declaration procedures
    2. Check if Authorised Economic Operator status is right for you
  4. Step 4 Apply for a licence or certificate if you need one

    How soon you need to start the application process and what you need to do depends on the type of goods you’re exporting.

    1. Apply for a licence or certificate if you need one
  5. Step 5 Decide who will make customs declarations and transport the goods

    You can hire someone to deal with customs and transport the goods for you, or you can do it yourself. Most businesses that export goods use a transporter or customs agent.

    1. Find out how to hire someone to deal with customs for you
    2. Find out what you'll need to do if you make the customs declaration yourself
    3. Find out how to transport goods out of the UK by road yourself
  6. Step 6 Classify your goods

    You must find the right commodity code to classify the goods you're exporting.

    Your customs agent or transporter might be able to help you with this.

    1. Find the right commodity code for your goods
  7. Step 7 Prepare the invoice and other documentation for your goods

    The completed invoice and any licences or certificates must travel with the goods.

    When filling in the value of your goods on the invoice, use the price you’re selling them for. List separately any freight or export insurance you included in the price. For free samples, use the market value of the goods.

    You might be able to zero rate the goods for VAT. This means you can charge your customers VAT at 0%.

    1. Check if you can zero rate the goods for VAT
  8. Step 8 Get your goods through customs

    If you've appointed someone to deal with UK customs for you, they'll make the declaration and get your goods through the UK border.

    1. Make an export declaration and get your goods cleared by UK customs

    You may need other documentation to get your goods into the destination country. Ask the person or business buying your goods what information you need to provide.

  9. Step 9 Keep invoices and records

    You must keep records of commercial invoices and any customs paperwork.

    If you exported controlled goods, for example firearms, keep the paperwork that shows who owns the goods.

    If you're VAT registered, record the goods in your VAT accounts and report them on your VAT Return. You'll need to do this even if you zero rated them.

    1. Find out how to record the goods in your VAT accounts
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