UK – HMRC tips to avoid common VAT registration errors

UK – HMRC tips to avoid common VAT registration errors

With high volumes of VAT registration applications causing processing delays, HMRC is urging agents and taxpayers to double check applications before submission.

Changes to import VAT rules following the end of the transition period have resulted in a spike of VAT-registration applications from EU-based firms, with HMRC processing around 70% of forms within its target of 30 days and the majority within five working days.

HMRC has apologised for the delays and expects to be processing 95% of VAT registrations within 30 days by the end of March 2021. To speed up processing, HMRC is contacting some businesses where it needs additional information to complete their registration and asks them or their agents to call HMRC.

Alongside working to improve its processes to deal with the influx of VAT registrations, HMRC has asked agents and taxpayers to check the following details on their applications to avoid common errors that cause processing delays:

  • The addresses provided on the application match the business’s principal place of business.
  • The trade classification matches the work that the business itself carries out.
  • The VAT liability of trading is correctly identified.
  • The signatory for the application is valid. For a corporate body, for example, it must be a director, company secretary or authorised signatory or an authorised agent.
  • The dates on the application are valid. For example, the effective date of registration requested matches the circumstances that have been outlined for requesting registration elsewhere in the application.
  • The bank account details provided are in the name of the taxable person.

HMRC also encourages agents and businesses to check that all information requested is included with their application to avoid delays and to use the online VAT registration service wherever possible. HMRC states that online registration is generally quicker than applying by paper – particularly if the application can be fully processed straightaway.

HMRC confirms that applications from agents and businesses are all subject to the same checks.

HMRC is also considering process improvements by resolving more cases in real time by telephone and engaging with businesses in a different way to gather any further required information.

See HMRC’s guidance on registering for VAT on