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VAT in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)

VAT Guide for Non-EU countries within Europe

VAT in the UK

If you deal with companies in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland), you may be able to claim a British VAT refund.
Whether you’re a European or non-European company, establishing certain activities in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) may mean you need to register for VAT. You will need to appoint a tax representative to fulfil your VAT reporting obligations in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland).
We have put together for you the specific information on the VAT regulations in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland).

Basic information

EU membership 1973
ISO code UK
VAT introduced in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) 1973
VAT name in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) Value-added tax (VAT)
VAT ID format in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) GB999 9999 99 / GB999 9999 99 999 / GBGD999 / GBHA999
Territories with special status in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Channel Islands

VAT rates in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)

Standard VAT rate 20 %
Reduced VAT rate (1) 5 %
Reduced VAT rate (2) n/a
Super reduced VAT rate n/a
VAT parking rate n/a
Zero VAT rate yes

Reporting frequency in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)

VAT returns monthly, quarterly , annually
Reporting currency GBP

VAT-related penalties in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)

Failure to file a VAT return Penalty of 2 to 10% of the amount of VAT due per reporting period.
Late payment of VAT Penalty of 2 to 10% of the amount of VAT due per reporting period.
Failure to report ESL/DEB Penalty of 5, 10 or 15 GBP per day overdue.

Useful links on VAT in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)

Tax Authorities in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) Tax authorities
Ministry of Finance in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) Ministry of Finance
Check a VAT number in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) Check a VAT number
The British economy is the 8th largest in the world and is essentially based on the services industry, which represents three-quarters of the GDP, due in particular to the financial services industry.

The UK VAT regulations are detailed in the Value Added Tax Act 1994
The United Kingdom joined the European Union in 1973, but has not joined the single currency or the Schengen area.

Following the UK referendum on 26th June 2016, the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) officially left the European Union on 1st January 2021, following lengthy negotiations.
Three of the nations making up Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) are considered to be non-EU countries for VAT purposes.
On the other hand, the negotiated withdrawal agreement provides for a protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and grants a special status to Northern Ireland when it comes to VAT (see our Northern Ireland country sheet).

The current VAT rates in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) are as follows:

  • Standard VAT rate: 20 %
  • Reduced VAT rate (1): 5 %
  • Reduced VAT rate (2): n/a
  • Super reduced VAT rate: n/a
  • VAT parking rate: n/a
  • Zero VAT rate yes

Why identify yourself to VAT in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)?

You may need a VAT number in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) to fulfil your tax obligations in this country. Indeed, certain activities such as sales, purchases and subcontracting operations may require VAT identification. To check if your activities require VAT identification in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland), use our VAT simulator or contact us.

VAT British is named Value-added tax (VAT)and the VAT numbers in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) have the following structure: GB999 9999 99 / GB999 9999 99 999 / GBGD999 / GBHA999.

How do I get a VAT number in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)?

The administrations in charge of in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) VAT are the following: Tax authorities, Ministry of Finance.

Registering for VATis a relatively simple formality compared to setting up a company, but in addition to obtaining a VAT number in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland)you’ll need to file periodic VAT returns to ensure your VAT compliance.

Companies with a VAT number in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) must complete and submit VAT returns in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) detailing all taxable income (sales) and expenses (costs), with the following periodicity: monthly, quarterly , annually.

Failure to comply with the deadlines imposed by the British authorities for the deposit and payment of VAT will result in the payment of penalties .

These penalties are defined as follows in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland):

  • Penalties for failure to file a VAT return in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland): Penalty of 2 to 10% of the amount of VAT due per reporting period.
  • Penalties for late payment of VAT in the United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland): Penalty of 2 to 10% of the amount of VAT due per reporting period.


In principle, a non-UK resident business can recover all or part of the VAT incurred on its expenditure. There are two scenarios:

  • The business is already registered for VAT in the UK, or is required to register for VAT in the UK (whether or not it is established within the EU). In this case, it must claim the VAT refund through its periodic VAT return filed in the United Kingdom.
  • The business is not registered for VAT in the UK and is not required to do so (whether or not it is established in the EU). In this case, it must apply to HMRC for a VAT refund.

*This information is subject to change without notice.

OTHER COUNTRY GUIDES

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