How to check your client’s VAT registration number is correct?

Updated on July 27, 2022

When a company creates a new purchase ledger account, it is a good idea to verify the VAT number of the supplier because an invalid VAT number would invalidate the tax invoice, and HMRC may refuse your input tax claim.

It is especially critical when selling to firms in other EU Member States since if you get the VAT number wrong, you cannot zero-rate the sale.

Many of these occurrences may be the result of simple mistakes, such as typos in the printing. However, it is common in some industries to commit fraud by using another trader’s number, so doing a quick check could be helpful. New Notice 725, The Single Market from HMRC offers an excellent checklist that can be found in the table below.

Checking UK and EU VAT numbers

When verifying a UK VAT number, make sure it has at least nine digits before moving on to the next step. The GB isn’t mentioned right away, therefore it’s not a part of this. A procedure that considers the seven preceding numbers is used to calculate all but two of the number’s last two digits.

In order to verify a company’s VAT registration, the VAT Helpline can be reached at 0845 010 9000, and the VIES website can be accessed at http://www.ec.europa.eu/taxation customs

New HMRC VAT registration numbers checklist

An updated Notice 725, The Single Market, issued by HMRC provides firms with an easy-to-use checklist (see below) for spotting inaccurate VAT registration numbers. The complete text of the report may be seen here.

Member State Country Code Format of VAT number Number of characters
Austria (1) AT U12345678 9
Belgium (2) BE 0123456789 10
Bulgaria BG 012345678 or 0123456789 9 or 10
Cyprus (see paragraph 2.4 for extent of VAT territory)(3) CY 12345678X 9
Czech Republic(4) CZ 12345678 or 123456789 or 1234567890 8, 9 or 10
Denmark DK 12345678 8
Estonia EE 123456789 9
Finland FI 12345678 8
France (5) FR 12345678901 or X1234567890 or 1X123456789 or XX123456789 11
Germany (6) DE 123456789 9
Greece EL 012345678 9
Hungary HU 12345678 8
Ireland (7) IE 1234567X or 1X23456X 8
Italy IT 12345678901 11
Latvia LV 12345678901 11
Lithuania LT 123456789 or 123456789012 9 or 12
Luxembourg LU 12345678 8
Malta MT 12345678 8
Netherlands (8) NL 123456789B01 12
Poland PL 1234567890 10
Portugal PT 123456789 9
Romania RO 01234567890 2 to 10 digits
Slovakia (Slovak Rep) SK 1234567890 10
Slovenia SI 12345678 8
Spain (9) ES X12345678 or 12345678X or X1234567X 9
Sweden SE 123456789001 12
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Notes to the above table

  1. First character is always U.
  2. Nine digits prior to 1 April 2005. Prefix any nine digit numbers with ‘0’.
  3. Last character must be a letter.
  4. Where 11, 12 or 13 numbers are quoted – delete the first three as these are a tax code.
  5. May include alpha character(s), either first, second or first and second. All alpha characters except I and O are valid. Must be the 11 alpha numeric TVA number, not the 14 digit SERIT number.
  6. Must be the nine character Umsatzsteuer Identifikationsnummer (ust – Id Nr) not the ten character Umsatzsteuer nummer.
  7. Includes one or two alpha characters – either last, or second and last.
  8. The tenth digit is always B. Three digit suffix will always be in the range B01 to B99
  9. Includes one or two alpha characters – first or last, or first and last.