How to Obtain a VAT Number

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Value Added Tax (VAT) is a graduated tax system used in the 27 European Union countries, the Isle of Man and Monaco. Businesses must charge VAT and add this tax to the price of most “business-to-business” or consumer sales of products and services. They must also add the tax to “non-sale” items such as sales commissions, sample merchandise and items sold from a vending machine.

Register for a VAT online account. The registration process depends on whether you are an individual, organization or agent. Follow the instructions and provide the required information that generally includes name or company name, address and email address. You will receive a user ID, making you eligible to download forms and/or enroll for services, such as filing a VAT return online.

Log into your account and determine whether you can obtain a VAT number online or if you must apply using a paper application. The general application form VAT 1 is available online, but if you must submit a VAT 2, VAT 50 or VAT 51 form, you must download and submit a paper application. Partnerships require an additional VAT 2 form that identifies each partner. Registering a group of companies requires a VAT 50 or VAT 51 form. VAT 50 is the application to register two or more companies or corporations using one VAT number. VAT 51 identifies each company you want to include in the group. Group registration is common for companies that have both a parent and subsidiary.

Fill out and submit the appropriate forms online or by mail. If you have questions about the registration process, the required forms or need assistance to complete the forms, call the VAT Helpline at 0845 010 9000. The helpline is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.


  • You must obtain a VAT number if annual sales exceed £70,000.

    A VAT online account makes you eligible to enroll in various online services, but having an online account does not require you to use online services exclusively. However, as of April 1, 2010, many “paper-based” services ended, leaving online services as your only option.

    Whether you submit information online or by mail, the general time frame to receive a VAT number is two weeks to a month. In cases requiring further checking or additional information, the process can take up to three months.


  • You are liable for payment of VAT in the interim between when you apply for and obtain a VAT number.



About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

Photo Credits

  • tax defined image by Christopher Walker from