Do you need to find the vat registration number for a UK or EU company? Or do you have a vat registration number for a UK or EU company that you want to check? Remember without a valid vat registration number HMRC will dispute the input vat reclaim.
Vat registration numbers in the UK
When you register for vat you will be provided with a vat number by HMRC. This will be different to any other HMRC number you will have been provided, i.e Company UTR, Payroll reference, etc.
UK vat registration numbers are 9 digits in length. They are often written as follows 123 4567 89.
If the business has trade outside of the UK then you’ll often see their vat number written as GB 123 4567 89. The GB represents a business based within the UK.
How to search for a UK company vat registration number
It is a legal requirement to include on a vat invoice the vat registration number. However if for whatever reason you need to look up a company to find their vat number use the vat-search website.
All you need to enter is the business name and address. It should then hopefully find the business you are looking for and it will then provide you with their vat registration number.
This search can also be used for vat registered businesses throughout the EU.
Is the vat registration number valid
Without a valid vat registration number you can’t deduct the input vat on purchases.
Also if you sell goods to an EU customer which is outside the UK, you can zero rate the sale. But only if you have a valid vat registration number from the customer.
Therefore you should check all vat numbers are valid. You can phone the HMRC vat helpline on 0300 200 3700 to verify UK vat registration numbers.
For any EU businesses including the UK you can also use the VIES vat validation website.
Just type in the vat number you’ve been provided and it will give you the company name and address.
Tip: A popular fraud is for businesses to use a genuine vat registration number of another company. Therefore when you do the verification check. Don’t just ensure the vat number is valid but also ensure that the name and address of the company agrees as well.
EU vat registration numbers
As mentioned previously the UK has 9 digit vat numbers often preceded by the letters GB.
Other countries throughout the EU have a differing number of digits.
For example Ireland has 8 or 9 digits and can include 1 or 2 letters as well as numbers.
To see the default layout for other EU countries see the HMRC EU country vat numbers website.
Invalid vat registration numbers
If when doing your checks, the VIES website shows it as an invalid number the first thing to do is to contact the business. It is so easy to make a mistake such as omitting a digit or transposing digits so just check you have the correct vat registration number.
Should the number continue to be invalid then let the business know. They can then contact HMRC and let them know that the data held on the VIES system needs updating.
Vat registration numbers aren’t random
UK vat numbers aren’t random. They can be entered into a formula which will confirm that the vat registration number is in the correct format. The following check is no longer applicable to very new vat registration numbers.
The formula can be checked as follows:
- First list the first 7 vat numbers vertically
- Then multiply the top number by 8, the 2nd number by 7 and so on down to the bottom number which is multiplied by 2.
- Add up the sum of these 7 numbers.
- Take this total and deduct 97
- Continue to deduct 97 until the total becomes negative.
- When it does become negative the number left will be the last 2 digits of your vat registration number.
As an example the vat registration number for Tesco Plc is 220 4302 31.
2 x 8 = 16
2 x 7 = 14
0 x 6 = 0
4 x 5 = 20
3 x 4 = 12
0 x 3 = 0
2 x 2 = 4
The sum of these is 66 (16 + 14 + 0 + 20 +12 + 0 + 4).
Now if we continue to deduct 97 until we get a minus number we get -31, which does indeed agree to the last 2 digits of the vat registration number.
As mentioned previously this does not work now on very new vat registration numbers. Therefore don’t worry if it doesn’t work for your company. Just check that the vat registration number is valid per the VIES vat validation website.
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