If you are planning to enter into any deal that involves VAT or value added tax, especially with traders based in another eu country then you should conduct a vat number check before entering into that deal. This facility is available online as well as by phone and can help you avoid a lot of problems with the vat department in the coming days.
If you are a trader based in the UK where the system of vat is followed, and wish to import goods into the UK from another eu country that also follows vat then buying those goods from a vat registered trader in that country would lead to several benefits. You could go in for a vat reclaim in the original country if vat has already been paid in that country. However, there are chances that an exporter might provide you with a wrong vat number by mistake. On the other hand, an unscrupulous trader might simply provide you with a fraudulent vat number or a vat number that has already expired or been cancelled simply to get additional business.
It is always better to check the vat number of any potential supplier before you place an order since once the goods arrive in the UK and you try to reclaim vat then you might find out the ugly and costly truth. In addition, HM Revenue and Customs or hmrc that handles all customs and excise customs vat duties in the UK might not take too kindly to imports that take place on a fraudulent vat number. Thus, a vat number check should be your top priority to confirm if the number given to you by your supplier is indeed correct and valid at the time of import.
There are several countries in the European Union that follow vat including Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, the UK, Latvia, etc. The vat number of each trader begins with a 2 letter country code such as DE for Germany, GB for the UK, SE for Sweden, etc. This is usually followed by a 12 digit number or an alphanumeric number. Certain countries such as the UK also have spaces between blocks of numbers. You will need to visit the hmrc vat website or can directly visit the European Union website ec.europa.eu and feed in the vat no. of your proposed supplier to find out the facts.
The EUROPA website links to the vat department of the mentioned country and provides you with details on whether the vat number is correct and valid on that particular date. You can also take out a printout of the result so as to have documentary proof in your hands. If you do not have an internet connection then you can also call up the hmrc vat office at 0845 010 9000 between 8 am and 8 pm, Monday to Friday to confirm the validity of the vat number over the phone.
It is important to cross-check the vat number of any new supplier especially while importing goods since any number that turns out to be a fake when you try to indulge in vat refunds could make you liable for penalties. It is also very easy to conduct a vat number check over the telephone or internet and you should certainly make full use of this facility to ensure that you are dealing with a genuine supplier.