Overseas business ― registering for VAT in the UK

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Overseas business ― registering for VAT in the UK
  • Overseas trader definition
  • Business establishment
  • Abolition of UK VAT registration threshold
  • Overseas trader registering
  • VAT registering
  • Appointing an agent
  • Appointing a tax representative
  • Combating VAT evasion by overseas businesses
  • Online marketplace operator checks

Overseas trader definition

An overseas trader, also known as a non-established taxable person (NETP), may be considered to be any person who:

  • is not normally resident in the UK
  • does not have a ‘business establishment’ in the UK
  • a company which is not incorporated in the UK

HMRC Notice 700/1 ; VATREG37000; De Voil Indirect Tax Service V2.157 (subscription sensitive)

Business establishment

Please see the Overview of the place of supply of services rules guidance note for details on what constitutes an establishment for VAT purposes.

Abolition of UK VAT registration threshold

With effect from 1 December 2012, the UK VAT registration threshold for non-UK established businesses was removed and a non-established business is required to VAT register as soon as they start to make supplies within the UK that are liable to UK VAT. These changes are intended to bring the UK in line with the other EU member states and are the results of the CJEU decision in Schmelz.

VATA 1994, Sch 1A; Value Added Tax Regulations 1995, SI 1995/2518, Reg 5; Schmelz v Finanzamt Waldviertel [2010] All ER (D) 252 (Oct) (subscription sensitive)
Overseas trader registering

The following section provides an overview of the types of situations where an overseas trader can VAT register in the UK.

VATA 1994, Sch 3A, para 1
Compulsory registration

An overseas trader must be registered for VAT in the UK in the following circumstances:

  • he makes any or expects to make any taxable supplies of goods and services in

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