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Director Retrieve Your VAT Certification Online In 4 Easy Steps

Tony Dhanjal

Vat Certification

This Article Contains

The VAT certification is an important document for any VAT registered business to keep on hand. It demonstrates your right to charge VAT on sales where necessary and contains all the key VAT details that your customers or suppliers may need to know.

But what if you lose your VAT certification? Or never receive a copy in the post? In this article we will explain how to view your VAT certificate online in 4 simple steps.

What Is A VAT Certificate

When you register your business for VAT, HMRC will send you a VAT certification that details:

  • Your businesses VAT number
  • The businesses name
  • Details of when to submit the first return and payment
  • An effective date of registration (this is the date from which VAT needs to be charged on vatable sales)
Many businesses eagerly await the arrival of this VAT certification as legally a business cannot begin to charge VAT on an invoice until they have the associated VAT number.
Your VAT registered business will need to display the VAT number on any sales invoices where VAT is being charged to demonstrate to the customer that you are an official collector of value added taxes and the business has been registered correctly with HMRC.
Where a customer is questioning the need to pay VAT or the legitimacy of a VAT charge they can take the VAT number to the HMRC portal and check the VAT number directly with HMRC.

Viewing Your VAT Certification Online

Whether you’ve lost the original VAT certification that HMRC sent you or just want to know for future reference. A copy of the VAT certificate can be found online. You’ll just need to follow these 4 simple steps:

  1.  Login to the government gateway portal – you’ll need the username and password you created when setting up the portal
  2. Select “view your VAT account” – the option to view your VAT account can be found on the first page of the government gateway after logging in. You may need to scroll down the page in order to find the link
  3. Select “view your VAT certificate”  Once you are in your VAT account you will find a link to view your VAT certificate under the manage your VAT heading. Follow this link to view a copy of your VAT certificate
  4. Choose from view, save or print – All three options are available via the portal. Simply click the option that you need and proceed

Charging VAT Without A VAT Number

Your business needs to be registered for VAT and have a valid VAT registration number in order to charge and display VAT on an invoice legally. HMRC are very strict about this and do not take kindly to those who break the law however there are certain situations where it might be necessary to start accounting for VAT a little early (sort of).
First things first you cannot charge VAT prior to the effective date of registration. If you are registering voluntarily then you will choose this date but if this is a compulsory registration then it will usually be the date that your business was required to register. 
It can take some time from the effective date of registration until the VAT certificate is actually received by the business so how can you account for VAT in this period?
One solution is to charge the VAT amount without actually displaying it as VAT. For many businesses this will involve increasing invoices by 20%. So if you would usually charge a client £1,000 per week then you can increase this to £1,200.
To do this you would need to explain to the client that you haven’t actually increased your invoice by 20% rather it is a temporary solution whilst you await your VAT certification. You should explain that once you receive this you will re-issue the invoices at a later date showing a full break down of the VAT element and displaying the VAT number.
Of course this will not be possible for every business but is an option for those who have relatively few clients and know those clients well enough to request this.

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Do I Need To Display My VAT Certification?

Although there is no specific requirement to display a copy of the VAT certificate in your place of business (after all many of our ecommerce clients don’t have a real place of business that is accessible to the public). You should ensure that the VAT number is clearly displayed on any invoices or receipts that are given to customers. 

There are also some requirements for how VAT invoices need to be made up which are determined by HMRC and your business will need to bare these in mind.

When Will The VAT Certificate Be Available?

If you have recently registered for VAT then you may be desperate to know know your registration details as soon as possible. Most certificates become available within 30 days although it can take longer than this at times. How you receive the certificate usually depends on how you made the application. 

  • Where you made the application online yourself a copy is usually sent to your government gateway account so you can retrieve it online using the 4 steps shown above
  • Where an agent made an application on your behalf or you were not able to apply online HMRC will usually send a copy of the certificate in the post to your registered office

The copy of the VAT certificate is available online via the portal the instant your business registration has been processed by HMRC. This means that if you keep checking the portal daily then you may be able to retrieve and print a copy a day or so before the original certificate arrives in the post.

Can HMRC Send A Copy In The Post?

Of course HMRC can access copies of your VAT certificate on request but in the interest of efficiency and “making tax digital” they will always try to help you access the certificate online yourself. If this proves to be impossible for your business then they can send a paper copy in the post.

There are some changes happening to VAT in 2021 that will impact our ecommerce clients in particular. You can learn more about these changes in our article huge ecommerce VAT changes in 2021.


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Practice based accountant with over 10 years experience, specialising in SME's, Freelancers and Personal Tax. "I take pride in proactively recognising tax planning opportunities on behalf of clients to help them operate more efficiently."

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Disclaimer – all our content is for general guidance only and does not constitute formal advice. We always recommend you take professional advice.