How to find your VAT certificate

We explain what you need to know about VAT certificates, including how to find your VAT certificate online.

Illustrated accountant sits at her desk working.

What is a VAT certificate?

If you run a business that’s VAT-registered, HMRC sends you a document called a VAT certificate as proof of this. This should arrive within 30 working days of you completing your VAT registration. The certificate contains important information that you might need to run your business.

A VAT certificate — sometimes called a VAT registration certificate — includes:

  • your business’s unique VAT number (this needs to be displayed on any invoices where VAT is charged)
  • the VAT registration date of your business
  • details of when to submit your first VAT return

How to find your VAT certificate online

If your business is registered for VAT, you can access a copy of your VAT certificate online. To do this, follow these steps:

Step 1: Sign into the HMRC website

Log in to your Government Gateway account with your username and password.

Step 2: Select view your VAT account

Once you have logged in, click on the option to ‘View your VAT account.’

Step 3: Select view your VAT certificate

Under the ‘Manage your VAT’ section, click on ‘View your VAT certificate.’

Who needs a VAT certificate?

If your business has an annual taxable turnover of over £85,000 you’re legally required to register for VAT. You should register your business for VAT if, by the end of any month, your total VAT taxable turnover for the last 12 months was over £85,000.

You must also register if you realise that your annual total VAT taxable turnover will go over the £85,000 threshold in the next 30 days.

If your business’ turnover is below the VAT threshold you can still register if you wish, but it’s not compulsory.

How to register for a VAT certificate

How long does it take to get a VAT certificate?

Once you’ve registered your business, your VAT certificate should arrive within 30 working days.

Can I download my VAT certificate?

Yes, you can choose to print a copy of your certificate or save it as a PDF file.

Do VAT certificates expire?

No, a VAT certificate doesn’t expire. You only need to register your business for VAT once, but it’s important to keep your details up to date. You need to tell HMRC within 30 days if there are any changes to:

  • the name, trading name or main address of your VAT registered business
  • the accountant or agent who deals with your VAT
  • the members of a partnership, or the name or home address of any partners

If your business is no longer eligible to be VAT registered, you need to inform HMRC. You also need to tell HMRC if there’s a change of ownership or legal status of the business, meaning the VAT registration needs to be transferred.

How do I get a new VAT Certificate?

VAT certificates don’t expire, so you shouldn’t need a new one unless you start a new business. If you can’t find your VAT certificate you can access a copy of it online, as explained above.

Handling VAT for small businesses

If you run a small business, staying VAT compliant can sometimes feel challenging, especially with the introduction of Making Tax Digital. To help make things easier Xero has created a free VAT Guide with lots of practical advice on how to handle core VAT-related tasks, including registering for VAT, claiming back VAT, and filing VAT returns through Making Tax Digital.


Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.

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