What Is a VAT Registration Number?: The Complete Guide

Posted on 7 June 2023

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Not sure how VAT registration numbers work? In this guide, you’ll learn what they are, who needs one and how to verify them. As a result, you’ll know exactly what you need, so you can file your VAT return correctly and avoid any fines. 

What Is a VAT Registration Number?

A VAT registration number is a unique identification number assigned to any businesses registered for VAT (Value Added Tax). It’s also known as a VAT identification number.

It’s used for tax purposes, and comes in different formats depending on the country of origin. It doesn’t apply to all countries globally. Rather, it only applies to those in the EU and additional countries including the UK, Norway and Switzerland. 

Why Do I Need a VAT Registration Number?

The purpose of this number is to identify any businesses that are registered for VAT. 

As an ecommerce seller in a country with VAT, you’ll need to report your VAT at various points in the year. As part of this, you’ll need to provide your VAT registration number. Providing this to HMRC (or equivalent) demonstrates that you’ve fulfilled your obligation to file your VAT reports. 

If you try and reclaim VAT without your VAT number, your claim could be rejected. As a result, you’ll have to pay the VAT yourself. Alternatively, you can appeal your claim, but this requires additional admin work.

How Do I Find My VAT Registration Number?

You can find your VAT registration number on your VAT registration certificate. You’ll be sent this certificate once you’ve been successfully registered for VAT. It includes your VAT registration number, plus additional information like the date of your first VAT return and your date of registration. 

If you want to find the VAT number of another business, you can find it on any invoices they’ve sent to you. It should appear here if they’ve registered for VAT. If they haven’t provided this, contact them to get this information, because you’ll need a valid invoice to claim any VAT they’ve charged you. 

Does Everyone Have a VAT Registration Number?

No, only businesses that are registered for VAT will have a VAT registration number. This includes businesses who are required to register, because they cross the VAT threshold, and those who have voluntarily registered. 

How to Verify VAT Numbers

If you’re in the UK, you can call HMRC on 0300 200 3700 to verify a VAT number. They have a database of all VAT-registered businesses, so you can call to confirm the validity of a VAT number.

You can also verify them online via the EU’s VIES VAT Number Validation tool. Simply input the member state and VAT number, and you’ll be able to find out whether this is valid or not. 

Where Do I Display My VAT Number?

You should display your VAT registration number on invoices and receipts issued to customers and clients. 

You should also display it when sending VAT returns and claiming VAT from HMRC (or the equivalent in other countries with VAT). 

When buying goods and services from a VAT registered business, you should supply your VAT number too. This means they can do a zero-rate VAT charge on your order. 

What Does a VAT Registration Number Look Like?

A VAT registration number starts with the country code (for example ‘GB’), which is then followed by a series of digits and characters. The codes are different depending on the country of origin:

CountryCountry codeCharacters
BulgariaBG9 or 10
Czech RepublicCZ8, 9 or 10
IrelandIE8 or 9
LithuaniaLT9 or 12
Switzerland (non-EU)CHE9
United Kingdom (non-EU)GB9

VAT Registration Number Examples

Here are two examples of VAT numbers:



The first example is for the UK, because it starts with GB and ends with 9 digits. The second example is for Cyprus, because it starts with CY, includes 9 characters after the country code and ends with an X. 

Are VAT Numbers The Same as EIN Numbers?

No. EIN numbers apply to US businesses only, whereas VAT numbers apply to all EU countries and some additional countries, such as the UK and Norway. 

EIN numbers aren’t required for foreign businesses trading into the US, but they’re compulsory for US-based exporters and importers. 

Are VAT Numbers The Same as EORI Numbers?

No, but they’re linked. You need an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number if you move goods between the UK and any other country, including the EU. In the UK, HMRC will link all your imports to your VAT registration number. 

If you don’t have an EORI number, you may not get your goods cleared through customs, resulting in storage fees (demurrage). You can apply for your EORI number via the government EORI page if you’re in the UK.  

Are VAT Numbers The Same as Tax Numbers?

No. Tax IDs are assigned to every taxable entity. However, VAT registration numbers are only given to businesses that are registered for VAT. That includes businesses that volunteer to do so, or those that pass the threshold for VAT. 

Zee VAT Services

Facing challenges with tax and VAT as you expand your ecommerce business across global borders? Local rules and regulations are complex to navigate, and require specialist knowledge to meet all the requirements. 

By partnering with Zee, you can enjoy smooth, efficient VAT registration and filings. With a tech-enabled approach, we provide ongoing auditing and inquiry assistance, giving you more time to focus on other areas of your business. 

Learn more about our VAT and tax compliance services

Read More

VAT For E-Commerce Sellers: A Complete Guide

When Do I Pay VAT On Imported Goods?

GST Vs VAT: Is There A Difference?


EU VIES VAT Number Validation Tool

UK Government EORI Page