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HMRC to close VAT registration helpline from 22 May 2023


Published: 17 May 2023 Update History

HMRC plans to free up helpline resources to work on processing VAT registration applications.

HMRC has announced a decision to close its VAT registration helpline from Monday 22 May. The helpline, which is separate from the main VAT helpline, was created specifically to help traders who have a concern around their VAT registration application. 

According to HMRC data, 85% of calls to the helpline are from traders chasing the progress of their application. HMRC considers that the time spent by advisers answering these calls would be better spent processing applications and reducing application processing times. 

Following trials undertaken last year, HMRC is confident that the closure of the VAT registration helpline will have a meaningful impact on application processing times, potentially reducing the current 40 working days service level. HMRC has only recently brought the service level back within 40 working days. Individual cases can, and do, take longer. 

Traders who need to check on the progress of their application (submitted more than 40 working days ago) should email HMRC’s dedicated VAT registrations email inbox. Traders who have not received a response to their initial application within 40 working days will receive a reply to their email within five working days. 

Before 40 working days have elapsed, traders can establish an expected response date using HMRC’s ‘Where’s my reply’ tool.  

For queries regarding the application itself, rather than processing times, traders can still contact the general VAT helpline on 0300 200 3700. 

HMRC will keep the decision to close the VAT registration helpline under review. If you have any comments regarding the decision, please contact Ed Saltmarsh.  

Ed Saltmarsh, VAT and Customs Technical Manager, ICAEW, says: “HMRC needs more resource across the board to improve service standards. ICAEW continues to make representations and engage with HMRC on this subject. ICAEW reluctantly accepts this particular change on the basis that moving staff from answering the phone to dealing with applications appears to be the only option available to enable HMRC to start meeting the 40 working day target consistently (there will always be some cases that take longer than this service level) and start to reduce it. An email option is available where applications are not processed within the service level agreement.”   

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