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What's my VAT number?
Business advice

What's my VAT number?

14 September 2021

3 min read


There can be a lot of jargon to sift through when it comes to running a business, from corporation tax to dividends to name just a couple. One term you’ve probably heard of before is VAT, or Value Added Tax. If you register for VAT, you may find it useful to familiarise yourself with what VAT is and what your VAT number means. In this guide, we’ll talk you through what your VAT number looks like, how you apply for it and more.

What is a VAT number?

A VAT number is the unique ID that HMRC assigns to businesses when they register for VAT.

VAT-registered businesses can then charge VAT on their taxable sales and report their income and expenditure figures to HMRC in a VAT return using this number. You may wish to put your VAT number on your invoice with the details of your business, where you note your company name and address .

What does a VAT number look like?

If you’re based in the UK, your VAT number will be nine digits long and have the letters ‘GB’ at the start, such as ‘GB987654321’. And if you’re dealing with a supplier from another county, their VAT number will follow a different format with its own unique country code.

How do you apply for a VAT number?

As long as your total VAT taxable turnover for the last 12 months was over £85,000, you may be able to register for VAT and get a VAT number. Once you’ve registered for VAT you will be able to find your VAT number on your VAT registration certificate, which is given to you by HMRC. You can then sign up for a Government Gateway account online, where you can submit your VAT returns to HMRC when the time comes.

You could also appoint someone to submit your VAT returns and deal with HMRC on your behalf. This can be a professional account or tax adviser, a friend or relative or someone from a voluntary organisation but they must meet HMRC’s standard for agents. Find out more about how to find an accountant.

How long does it take to get a VAT number?

You may not have to wait too long before your VAT registration certificate arrives. It could be delivered to you within as little as 30 working days, either via your VAT online account or by post if you are unable to register online, or an agent has registered you.

How do you find a VAT number?

VAT numbers are publicly available in the UK. You can check a Company Registration on the Companies House website, but if you’re dealing with a VAT registered Sole Trader you may only be able to find their VAT number on an invoice.

Is a VAT number and EORI the same thing?

An EORI number is a unique 12-digit ID code given to businesses that import or export goods into or out of the EU and will need to be quoted on various forms. This isn’t the same thing as a VAT number – however, if you are VAT registered, then they can be linked. When you submit your VAT registration, you will be given an option to also register for an EORI number. Once that’s all done, HMRC are able to link all your imports to your VAT number.

Discover more about business tax

Dealing with tax doesn’t have to be taxing. Our handy guides will tell you all you need to know about preparing that all-important paperwork for your business.

What is VAT? | Tyl by Natwest
Guide to Business Tax | Tyl by Natwest
A Guide to Tax for Small Businesses | Tyl by Natwest


This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business so you should undertake your own independent research.

Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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