James Poyser answers a frequently asked question on what do to if you are still waiting for a VAT registration number.
You should not charge VAT before you are registered and you are not registered until you receive your VAT registration certificate. Therefore, you must not show VAT as a separate item on any invoices that you issue.
However, on receipt of the VAT registration certificate, you will be notified of the effective date that you are registered from and you must account for all VAT (inputs and outputs) from that date.
You can change your prices to include the VAT amount from the date that you should be registered, so you would invoice gross including VAT but without showing the VAT amount.
In this event, you should inform your customers that a VAT invoice will be issued shortly. Once registered you should issue the VAT invoices within 30 days.
In practice most businesses will show the VAT separately on the invoices and include a comment along the lines of “VAT number applied for” and state that a VAT invoice will be issued later. Then once the registration comes through a VAT invoice should be issued showing the VAT number to replace the previous invoice.
About the Author
James Poyser is Product Director at inniAccounts, an industry leading online accountancy service for contractors.