How and Why You Need to Verify a VAT Number
When you’re doing business with a company for the first time it’s always wise to check to see what you can find out about them (a quick Google search will quickly turn up any positive or negative reviews out there and a service like DueDil lets you see things like turnover, assets, profits etc), and part of that is verifying their VAT number if they claim to be VAT registered.
If you don’t check a VAT number before entering it and it’s invalid that will invalidate the tax invoice. As a result, HMRC may disallow your tax input claim. If you’re dealing with a business in the EU you should still check the VAT number because, if you get it wrong, HMRC will assess you if you zero-rate the sale and the VAT number indicates that this should not be the case. In short, not performing a simple VAT number check can result in a lot
of hassle further down the line!
A valid UK VAT number is 9 digits long, not including the GB sometimes included at the beginning. The easiest way to check and verify a VAT number is to use the EU’s online VAT checker, VIES. The database is updated monthly so, unless the business you’re dealing with is very new, they should be included! If VIES says the number isn’t valid, try confirming the VAT number with the business; it may be that one of you has written it down or entered it incorrectly. If checking still doesn’t result in a valid match, try calling HMRC’s VAT helpline – they will be able to tell you whether or not the details you have for the company match up with those on file.
HMRC also be able to help you if the numbers don’t match and you suspect fraudulent activity! If that’s the case, it would probably be wise to find a different supplier…
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