How To Check Your VAT Number

The Blue dot Team

Do you have a VAT number, but are unsure if it’s correct? Are you looking for your VAT number online? Or have you recently registered for VAT and you’re not sure what your VAT number looks like? These questions will be answered in this article, which will talk you through how to check, understand, locate and find your VAT number.

Understanding VAT Numbers

Your VAT number is a unique VAT identifying number allocated to your business when you register for VAT. It’s your VAT identity and is vital when you submit any VAT-related documentation. You also have to ensure that your VAT number is on all your invoices and payments to claim back your VAT each month.

Your UK VAT number is nine digits long and has a GB at the front. Different countries have different VAT number systems, but more on that later.

You will only receive a VAT number if you registered your business with the tax authority. Our in-depth article explains how you can assess whether you are eligible to register for VAT and how to register for VAT.

Verifying a VAT Number

When you invoice people, you need to include your full VAT number on every invoice. It is also important to ask your suppliers to put their VAT numbers on invoices – this is required for you to claim back the VAT they are charging your business.

In both cases, you must verify the VAT number to verify it is valid and correct.

Anyone you supply will check your VAT number, and you need to check any VAT numbers you’re given. This is good accounting hygiene as it ensures you can always provide accurate records to HMRC when submitting your VAT return. An invalid number will result in the tax authority rejecting any VAT claims with that number on it.

To verify a VAT number, follow these simple steps:

Step #1

A UK VAT number is nine numbers long with the letters GB at the front. If you are doing business with a UK supplier, be sure to check and verify this. Any VAT number with more than nine numbers is incorrect and you will need to ask your supplier for the correct number.

Step #2

Visit the HMRC Check UK VAT Number page to find out if a UK VAT registration number is correct and to confirm the name and address of the business allocated to that number. You can use this service to prove that you have checked a VAT number – information that could be useful if you later have a problem with a VAT claim or submission.

If you are using the service to prove you have checked a VAT number, you will need your own VAT number to complete the process.

Step #3

If you can’t access the service online, call the HMRC VAT helpline on 0300 200 3700 for personal support. When you use this service, you will need your own VAT number.

Step #4

If you are doing business with suppliers overseas, you can also use the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES), which provides a comprehensive list of all the VAT numbers of all participating countries. You can use this service to check the VAT number of all the European Union Member States and Northern Ireland, but not the UK.

Additional Considerations

When verifying VAT numbers or references, there are other things to consider.

How to Find a Business’ VAT Number

There are several places where you can find a company’s VAT number:

  • Their website
  • On their invoices
  • The HMRC VAT Online Database has the names and numbers of all VAT-registered businesses in the UK
  • The VIES system includes all the information for VAT-registered businesses in Member States of the EU
  • Contact the company using their phone number or email address

Checking a VAT Number is Valid

You can follow the step-by-step process outlined above to confirm if any VAT number you receive is valid. The complete list includes the HMRC website, the VIES website, and the HMRC contact centre.

Do All Countries Have VAT Numbers?

Not all countries have VAT numbers, although more than 160 countries currently use this system. Countries with VAT will have different methods of allocating and confirming the validity of a VAT number. For example, in Austria the VAT number format consists of nine digits, of which the first character is always U.

You can find a comprehensive list of countries and their relevant VAT systems here.

Is a VAT Number the Same as a UTR Number?

Your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) is different from your VAT number. They are both different number lengths and have different roles. Your UTR is your personal tax number that you use when paying taxes. Your VAT number is your company tax number when managing your VAT submissions and payments.

Can a Business Trade Without a VAT Number?

Yes! But only if you are earning below the VAT threshold. If your company earns over the VAT threshold of £85,000 annually, you must register for VAT and use your VAT number on all your business transactions.

Ensuring VAT Compliance and Business Confidence

If you want to ensure that your business and VAT submissions are compliant, then checking the validity of any VAT numbers sent to you by suppliers is essential. Not only will this give you the confidence to submit your VAT returns to the tax authority, but you will also have proof that you have taken the time to verify your suppliers before doing business with them.

Don’t forget that you must include your VAT number on your invoices and website and that it is nine digits long with the GB prefix. That way, people who do business with you will know that you are above board and aware of the importance of compliance.

If you want even more compliance and insight into managing your VAT, returns and admin, Blue dot is a world leader in deep AI tax compliance, allows you to simplify the VAT management process from start to finish, and helps you customise taxation rules to suit your business needs.

Learn more about digitalized compliance automation for modern employee spend

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