Registering for UK VAT - Overseas Clients

The simplicity and cost of UK companies make them very attractive, however, getting a VAT number for general European business is more difficult.

Having a Tax Agent is usually a persuasive factor in allowing a company to obtain VAT registration. The HMRC require evidence of trading or, that there is the intention to do business in the future. Factors that can be persuasive in your UK company obtaining a VAT number:

  • Suppliers or Customers in the UK
  • Having a UK bank account
  • Rental of premises
  • Storage or manufacture of goods in the UK
  • Employment of UK staff
  • Appointment of a UK Tax Agent

UK Business Establishment

If you do not have a UK business establishment, are not normally resident here or in the case of a company incorporated here, you are a non-established taxable person but, you must still register for VAT in the UK if you have taxable supplies in the UK.

Small companies that are resident in the UK with a resident director can choose not to register for VAT. Small companies with non-resident directors must register for VAT in the UK if they have taxable supplies.

Selling to other countries in the EU where the company is not registered in the UK for VAT

If you incorporate in the UK and sell to other EU countries you may need to register in one or more of these countries. It may be easier to register in the UK first, unless your link is with another country through the residence of a director.

What is considered to be a business establishment

Premises from which trading activities directly related to the business are carried out.

What is not considered to be a business establishment

The business address of an accountant or agent, premises from where a business provides bookkeeping or accountancy services.

Supply of Goods in the UK

You may be making a supply of goods in the UK if the goods have physically located here, you may be eligible for; and may be required to have a UK VAT number, if goods are sold to consumers in the UK, even if there is no management or control of your company in the UK. 

Supply of Services in the UK

If the place of supply of your services is the UK, you must normally charge any UK VAT due and pay it to us, even if you do not have a place of business here.

The place of either supply is in the UK if:

  • It relates to a UK process
  • UK Land, or
  • If the client is in the UK

Voluntary VAT Registration

You may be entitled to register for VAT in the UK voluntarily and claim back any input tax you have paid here if you have no UK business establishment, but make taxable supplies here.

VAT - Visits by Officers

The VAT office may need to inspect your VAT records, this is to ensure that you have accounted for the correct amount of tax at the right time.

If you have a business establishment in the UK, they normally visit you there. They will expect your books and trading records to be made available at this address. If you have appointed a tax agent, they will normally visit them.