How do you get a VAT number what is it for?

Finding the answer to questions like: how do you get a VAT number and what is it for? is important if you’re considering registering yourself or your firm for VAT. But who should register for VAT?

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Who can register?

You can only register for VAT is you’re a business under one of the following categories –

  • an individual
  • a partnership
  • a company
  • a club
  • an association
  • a charity
  • any organisation acting together under a particular name, such as an educational or health institution
  • a trust
  • a Local Authority

Taxable person

If you qualify as a “taxable person”, you’ll want to know how to register for VAT. To do so, you have to apply to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). You can either use their online system at hmrc.gov.uk or print off the form and send through the post. If you apply online, it’s more secure, far faster, a lot easier and you can be certain that it’s been received by HMRC. The online process also auto-enrols you onto the online VAT returns system where you can also change your business details and see your certificate of registration.


The process can take some time as HMRC consider your application, although the turn around is often within 2 weeks for online applications. In the meantime, you should start to keep records and account for VAT from the date when you were required to register. After your application’s gone through you will receive a VAT registration cert which includes your VAT registration number.

VAT returns and accounts

Being registered for VAT adds a lot of accounting work to your business, but it's a legal requirement for any firm who have a turnover of more than £79,000 per year. The main advantage to it is not paying VAT on goods from other VAT registered firms.

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