The importance of understanding VAT when doing business in the UK can’t be overestimated. HMRC is especially proactive when it comes to enforcing VAT compliance, and ignorance of the laws surrounding Value Added Tax is no defence if the Revenue feel your business hasn’t done enough to make sure you’re managing it.

One of the key questions around VAT is whether you need to be VAT registered in the UK to sell your products. The simple answer is, ‘no, but’.

In short, there is no automatic need to be VAT-registered in the UK – that is, unless you tick any of the following boxes:

You must register for VAT in the UK if you’re:

  • You’re a UK seller selling goods as a business activity in the UK, and your business’s VAT taxable turnover is more than £85,000 a year
  • You’re an overseas seller and the online marketplace provides you with the VAT details of a business customer
  • You’re an overseas seller selling goods located in Northern Ireland at the point of sale and sold to customers in Northern Ireland
  • You’re an overseas seller with goods stored in the EU and your total sales to customers in Northern Ireland are more than £70,000 a year

So, assuming that you fall into any of those categories then, yes, head straight for the HMRC VAT website and get registered ASAP. However, if you don’t, you can also choose to register voluntarily.

The VAT threshold of £85,000 means that for many start-up businesses it may be a while until VAT comes onto your radar. However, it’ always pays to be prepared for when your circumstances change. So, if you are selling goods in the UK, make sure to monitor your turnover to make you haven’t hit the threshold.

If you’re planning to sell on Amazon, it is in their Terms & Conditions for you to register for VAT to trade through their platform.

For those businesses outside the country considering the UK as a new market, be aware that there is no threshold if neither you nor your business is based in the UK, and that you must register as soon as you supply any goods and services to the UK (or if you expect to in the next 30 days).

If you’re in need of advice or support for your UK expansion journey – in this or any other area – we’re right here for all your needs. You can contact us for help from tax and payroll to accounting and banking.