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How to Submit VAT Return Online

VAT registered businesses must file a VAT return on a regular basis with HMRC. This page explains the process for submitting VAT returns online to HMRC.

SUBMIT A VAT RETURN: As a rule, all returns must get submitted online to HM Revenue and Customs unless:

  • The business is going through a compulsory insolvency procedure. The rule still allows you to submit your return online if you have Company Voluntary Arrangements or Individual Voluntary Arrangements.
  • The company objects on religious grounds to the use of electronic devices (e.g. computers).
  • You are unable to complete the online forms due to your age or a disability.
  • There is no Internet connection at your location.

You should contact HM Revenue and Customs if there is a valid reason why you are unable to submit online. They will send the correct forms if you are offline and need to submit a return using the paper filing system.

Note: You can use an accountant or tax adviser to send your VAT Returns. Contacting HMRC is another option if you need to get help with tax and accounting.

Submitting a VAT Return Online

Most businesses with a VAT number can register and then submit VAT Return online through the account. You can use the free Government Gateway system to set up your account or use commercial accounting software.

How to Get Online

How to Submit VAT Return Online: HMRC VAT Return Software There are several ways to get your business online and connected to HMRC. You can use one of these methods in preparation of submitting your VAT Return:

  • Register for VAT to get a number and get online at the same time.
  • Get a VAT number only. Log in to your online account and then apply for a unique reference number.
  • Only get an online account by signing up and selecting the ‘VAT submit returns’.

HMRC Free VAT Return Services

Login to your VAT online ledger via your Government Gateway account and fill in the return. This is the standard process for each accounting period.

Using VAT Return Software for Accounting

When choosing commercial accounting software check it can send your VAT returns direct to HMRC. If it does not, you will need to enter the figures into the online service yourself.

Note: Keep all HMRC reference numbers after each online submission. They provide proof that you have sent the information.

Using Accountants or Tax Agents

You must authorise an accountant or tax agent before they can submit VAT Returns on your behalf. You can set this up through the company VAT online account.

Note: There are several resource guides to find an accountant or a tax adviser to help you with your returns. You can also contact the VAT Online Services Help Desk.

VAT Notice of Assessment of Tax

There are several steps to take if you get a VAT notice of assessment for tax. You must submit the Tax return and payment to HMRC without delay.

You must also inform HMRC any time the tax assessment is too low. This must take place within 30 days of the notice. Do this by contacting them or you can submit a correct VAT Return with full payment. Failure to do so can incur extra surcharges and penalties.

VAT Assessment

HMRC issue a ‘VAT notice of assessment of tax‘ if they do not receive a Vat Return or payment owed by the due date. The notice informs you of the amount they believe you owe them.

VAT Assessment Too High

HMRC do not allow an appeal if the VAT assessment is too high. Thus, you should submit a correct VAT Return with full payment to avoid the extra charges.

Note: You must inform HM Revenue and Customs without delay if you cannot pay your tax bill on time or send in a return.


VAT Returns: Information explaining the quarterly ‘accounting period’ for small businesses.
VAT Payment Deadlines: Checking VAT Return and payment deadlines in the online account.
VAT Interest Rate: Businesses must pay interest on underpaid or on overpaid VAT.

Submitting Your VAT Return Online to HMRC in the United Kingdom