How to Check if a Company is VAT Registered

  • Written By : Kasra Dash
  • Time : 6 minutes

Wondering how to check if a company is VAT registered or not? And why is it important? From ensuring you stay compliant with UK law and avoid being left with a large bill to pay, checking your supplier is registered for VAT is a good idea for many reasons.

What Is a VAT Registration Number?

A VAT registration number is a unique identifier that HMRC/Companies House provide organisations with once they are registered for VAT. It is nine digits long, including two-letter country codes where the business has been registered. For example, Austria would be AT, and the United Kingdom is GB.

What does a VAT number look like?

Understanding the format of a VAT registration number allows you to verify if it is legitimate. It’s worth noting that if you’re working with a supplier registered in a different EU country, their VAT registration number follows a different format with a different unique country code. In some countries, value added tax is known as goods and services tax (GST), a sales tax applied to most goods and services.

Why Do I Need to Check VAT Numbers?

It’s imperative you check the validity of a supplier’s VAT number. The reason is that using an invalid VAT number from a supplier can mean your tax relif claim is rejected by HMRC. This would leave you having to pay the bill in its entirety, not to mention the admin that will be required to remedy the situation.

Your VAT registration certificate that was issued by HMRC will have your VAT number on it. Numbers for any other businesses must be included on any invoice they issue.

What Are the Steps to Check if a Company Is VAT Registered?

Making a Call to the HMRC VAT Helpline

You can call the HMRC VAT helpline to check if a VAT number is valid. This is because HMRC has a database full of VAT-registered organisations to reference from. Don’t risk your chance to reclaim VAT, and check any VAT registration number is valid and correct by calling HMRC’s VAT helpline on 0300 200 3700.

You can also use HMRC’s online tool to check a UK VAT number. Most countries provide their own lookup site or tool to look up the number of a business for value-added tax claims.

Making Use of the Online VAT Information Exchange System (VIES)

To check the validity of European VAT numbers, you can use the VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) website owned by the European Union.

Here, you are able to enter both UK and EU VAT registration numbers into the relevant fields to check if a supplier’s VAT number is indeed valid. If not, the supplier should be contacted as soon as possible before you go further.


How can I get my own UK VAT number?

There are certain regulations your business must meet in order to register for VAT and get your own UK VAT number. If generating a VAT taxable turnover (£85,000 and above), it’s not legal for businesses to operate without a VAT number and registration.

You must register for VAT if you have a taxable turnover over £85,000. If your taxable turnover is more than £70,000, you must register for distance selling in the UK. For registration relating to bringing goods into the UK from the EU, you must have a taxable turnover over £85,000. The deregistration threshold is a taxable turnover under £83,000.

VAT thresholds chart

VAT Registration – £85,000 and over

Bringing goods from the EU to the UK – £85,000

Distance Selling into the UK – £70,000

Deregistration threshold – £83,000 and below

Simplified EC Sales List Completion – £106,500 and below with supplies to EU of £11,000 and below.

How can I validate a VAT number?

You can validate UK VAT numbers using HMRC’s VAT helpline 0300 200 3700, HMRC’s online tool, or the online VAT Information Exchange System (VIES) service run by the European commission.

If you’re using accounting software, a lot of them retain this kind of vital information. For example, in FreeAgent, VAT numbers will be automatically added to each VAT invoice you send from the software itself. So, if your supplier is using this software, you should be able to find their VAT number on a valid VAT invoice they have sent you. If there is no invoice to reference, businesses you work with should supply their VAT number which you can validate using HMRC’s helpline if they are in the UK or using the VIES site if registered in the EU.

It is important to double-check the unique code issued by your supplier is correct to avoid fraudulent activity as well as general human error. If the VAT number is valid, you can rest assured that your VAT claims should be accepted.

If you have any concerns relating to a business, company information, or anything else to do with a VAT number with the GB country code, you can contact HMRC.

What if a VAT number is not valid?

If a VAT-registered business or supplier has given you an incorrect VAT number, you should contact them as soon as possible to provide you with the right one. This is important because not having the correct unique VAT number could lead to HMRC rejecting your VAT claims, leaving you with quite a hefty bill.

Why should I keep proof of searches?

As a business, you can use the government’s Check a UK VAT number tool and save a copy of your search. The site will allocate a reference number for your search results. This is good to revert back to in the case of any tax inconsistencies with the company or business in question further down the road. You can keep the search results as proof that the UK VAT numbers you’ve checked are either valid or invalid.

How to Reclaim VAT?

VAT-registered businesses can reclaim the value added tax they pay on businesses expenses, goods or services purchased for the business, and even reclaim VAT if a customer or client has left them with bad debt.

Who Are TaxBite

TaxBite is made up of a team of chartered accountants in the UK. We provide bookkeeping and tax accountancy services for companies and individuals around the globe.

Our accountants are experienced in managing VAT-registered businesses and can even help you register your business for VAT or other tax reliefs. If you’re unsure if you qualify, contact us today for assistance with getting businesses registered for tax reliefs.

Get Started

For further guidance on how to pay VAT, check a business’ VAT number, get your company or business registered for tax relief, payment services regulations, and other account information services, you can contact us via our website by clicking below.

Our team of accountants can help your business get registered for value added tax after they verify whether or not your company is eligible.

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