HMRC is removing the paper VAT 1 form to apply for VAT registration from gov.uk with effect from 13 November 2023. The aim of this removal is to encourage businesses, or their agents, to use HMRC’s online VAT registration service (VRS) wherever possible. This should speed up processing times for VAT registration.
Over 95% of businesses or agents already use the VRS to apply for VAT registration in the UK. HMRC says it is the quickest, most secure, and easiest way to register for UK VAT. At least 80% of applications made through the VRS will be processed within 40 working days. Around 50% of applications through the VRS are currently being processed within seven working days.
Some businesses will still need to apply by post by using the paper VAT1 form. This includes businesses unable to access or use digital technology who will have to call the VAT helpline to ask for a copy of the paper VAT1 form. They will not have to apply for exemption in advance, but HMRC will ask why they need to apply by post. Agents representing businesses with a digital exemption should still use the VRS to apply for VAT registration.
There are also specific types of registration that cannot yet use the VRS. A complete list of businesses this applies to is not currently available from HMRC. ICAEW’s Tax Faculty understands it includes, but may not be limited to:
- businesses applying for a ‘registration exception’;
- businesses joining the agricultural flat rate scheme;
- overseas partnerships;
- entities (other than UK partnerships or non-established taxable persons) without a UTR.
Businesses in this position should also call the VAT helpline to ask for a VAT1 form. HMRC is working to add customer journeys for most of these types of business to its online VRS as quickly as possible. Once online registration becomes possible for these businesses, the ability to use a paper form will cease.
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