VAT Registration in the UK: Advantages & Steps

This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on VAT registration in the United Kingdom, including who needs to register, the benefits of registration, the steps involved, and what to expect after registering.


    Note: This form is not for job seekers.

    Table of Contents

    vat registration in the uk

    Value Added Tax (VAT) is an essential part of the taxation system in the United Kingdom. For businesses operating within the UK, comprehending VAT and managing the registration process is essential. 

    This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on VAT registration in the United Kingdom, including who needs to register, the benefits of registration, the steps involved, and what to expect after registering. By the end of this guide, you will have a clear understanding of VAT registration and how OnDemand International can assist you with this and other business-related services.

    What is VAT?

    A consumption tax known as value-added tax (VAT) is imposed on the price of goods and services at each stage of production and delivery. In the end, it is the responsibility of the final customer, with companies serving as middlemen to gather and send the tax to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Currently, the usual rate of VAT in the UK is 20%; however, certain goods and services are subject to lower rates of 5% and 0%.

    Why is VAT Registration Important?

    VAT registration is important for several reasons:

    1. Legal Requirement: Companies that fit certain requirements have to formally register for VAT. Interest and penalties may be incurred for failure to comply.
    2. Business Credibility: VAT registration can increase the legitimacy of your company by demonstrating that it is a reputable and well-established enterprise.
    3. Input Tax Credit: The VAT paid on purchases made for business purposes can be reclaimed by registered enterprises, which lowers overall costs.

    Who Needs to Register for VAT in the UK?

    Thresholds for Mandatory VAT Registration

    If a business’s taxable turnover surpasses the VAT threshold established by HMRC, it must register for VAT. The VAT threshold for the current tax year is £90,000. This implies that you have to register for VAT if the taxable revenue of your company surpasses this threshold in any given 12-month period.

    Voluntary VAT Registration: Pros and Cons

    You have the option to voluntarily register for VAT even when your company’s revenue is below the threshold. Consider the following benefits and drawbacks:


    • Reclaim VAT: You can reclaim VAT for goods and expenses, potentially lowering costs.
    • Enhanced Credibility: Customers and suppliers may view your company as more reliable if it is VAT-registered.
    • Avoid Future Hassles: If you anticipate growth, registering early can save you from the rush of mandatory registration when you hit the threshold.


    • Administrative Burden: VAT registration comes with additional record-keeping and reporting requirements.
    • Cash Flow Impact: You will need to manage cash flow carefully to ensure timely VAT payments to HMRC.

    Advantages of VAT Registration for Firms in the United Kingdom

    1. Reclaiming VAT on Purchases: VAT on products and services bought by registered enterprises for use in their operations can be recovered.
    2. Improved Business Image: VAT registration can give the impression that your company is more established.
    3. Competitive Advantage: Being able to provide VAT invoices can be a requirement for some clients and customers, giving you a competitive edge.
    4. Compliance and Avoiding Penalties: Staying compliant with VAT regulations helps avoid penalties and interest charges from HMRC.

    Steps to Register for VAT in the UK

    1. Assess Eligibility: Assess whether your company qualifies for VAT registration, either through exceeding the threshold or voluntary registration.
    2. Gather Information: Gather information about your bank account, business activity, and turnover, among other pertinent factors.
    3. Choose VAT Scheme: Select the appropriate VAT scheme for your business (more on this in the next section).
    4. Register Online: Complete the VAT registration process online through the HMRC website.
    5. Receive VAT Number: After processing, you will receive your VAT number and can start charging VAT on your sales.

    Types of VAT Schemes Available in the UK

    1. Standard VAT Accounting: The most popular scheme allows companies to refund VAT on purchases and charge VAT on sales.
    2. Flat Rate Scheme: Designed for small businesses, this scheme simplifies VAT by paying a fixed percentage of turnover as VAT.
    3. Cash Accounting Scheme: Businesses pay VAT based on cash received rather than invoices issued, aiding cash flow management.
    4. Annual Accounting Scheme: Suitable for businesses with a consistent turnover, this scheme allows for one yearly VAT return rather than quarterly returns.

    Documents Required for VAT Registration in the UK

    • Business Details: Name, address, and contact information.
    • Bank Account Details: For the company account.
    • Incorporation Certificate: For limited companies.
    • Estimated Turnover: Expected annual turnover.
    • Business Activity: Description of your business activities.
    • Previous VAT Registration Details: If applicable.

    How to Apply for VAT Registration Online?

    1. Make an HMRC Account: Should you not already possess one, create an online account with HMRC.
    2. Login to the VAT Registration Portal: Access the VAT registration service through your HMRC account.
    3. Complete the Registration Form: Fill in the required information about your business.
    4. Send in your Application: Review and send in your application.
    5. Receive Confirmation: HMRC will review your application and send confirmation along with your VAT number.

    After VAT Registration: What to Expect

    Receiving Your VAT Number

    HMRC will provide you with a unique VAT number as soon as your application is accepted. Every VAT invoice as well as any interaction with HMRC must have this number.

    VAT Returns and Payment Schedules

    Registered companies are required to file frequent VAT returns, usually on a quarterly basis, outlining the VAT paid on purchases and the VAT imposed on sales. Quarterly payments are also made for any outstanding VAT.

    Record-Keeping and Compliance

    To comply with VAT, accurate record-keeping is necessary. This includes keeping:

    • Sales and purchase invoices
    • Credit notes and debit notes
    • VAT account records
    • Any other relevant business records


    VAT registration is a critical step for businesses in the United Kingdom, providing numerous benefits including the ability to reclaim VAT on purchases and enhancing business credibility. To guarantee a seamless and effective registration process, it is helpful to comprehend the registration procedure, the different VAT schemes that are accessible, and the compliance needs. 

    You can get help from OnDemand International registering a business in the UK and navigating post-registration compliances, so contact us today for expert assistance.