Completing your first VAT return - Bookkeeping and VAT - help submitting

Fill in your first VAT return
VAT 4 Certificate of Registration for Value Added Tax
Your key document for your first time VAT return is form VAT4 Certificate of Registration for Value Added Tax. The VAT4 form will show, among other things:
Your VAT registration number.
Start date of your first VAT return period
First period ending date
Your bank details for any VAT repayment.

VAT return period is set at registration.
Change your VAT return date by sending by post a:
VAT484 Change of details - Variations:
In section 3 tick the required VAT return period end date.

Period of first VAT return:
First time VAT return: If we are completing your bookkeeping and doing VAT returns for submission, please let us know when your records are available after your first VAT period end date. Otherwise, you need to go through the online VAT filing and submission procedures:
https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/registration
have your form VAT4 Certificate of Registration for Value Added Tax handy
select individual or organisation, as applicable, and then tick VAT (submit return or change details) and move through the procedure.

  • Completing VAT return; filing first vat return:
  • Your VAT return is then completed and submitted online.
  • You do need to have calculated the figures before you reach this stage.
  • Figures need to agree with bank transactions where these apply.
  • Retain your workings for HMRC VAT inspections and
  • for your annual accounts and tax computations.
  • It is preferable to include non vatable items in your books so that these are complete for annual accounts and tax computations.
  • HMRC inspections often combine VAT with Income Tax or Corporation Tax.

    VAT payable or repayable after the start of trading

  • Paper VAT return form VAT 100 Value Added Tax Returns are no longer sent.
  • Due date - VAT filing dates: Your first return period is due a month after the First period ending date .
  • Any repayment of VAT should be made to you 30 days after that unless H M Revenue & Customs are making an enquiry into the return or into your affairs in general.
  • Payable VAT is due one month and seven days after First period ending date.
  • You need to file a return even if, in fact, you do not start trading.

    Claiming VAT

  • VAT claims need to be:
  • Valid and
  • Supported by VAT documentation.
  • This is checked by HM Revenue & Customs at routine inspections.
  • It is more likely that an inspection may be required:
  • When there is a VAT reclaim and also
  • When the trader is recently registered.
  • Repayment routinely is made within 30 days of submitting the claim but
  • If an inspection is required no repayment will be made until after completion of the inspection.

There are penalties for late filing or late payment of VAT.

What to include -
What to claim for - VAT reclaimable:

Your first VAT return is your opportunity to claim VAT refund on any goods or assets which are on-hand at the Start date of your first return where you have VAT receipts for these. This includes:
What you can claim:
1. Stock check for opening stock - Trading stock at date of VAT registration.
2. VAT you have paid on imports where you have the documentation (import duty is not reclaimable).
3. Commercial vehicles.
4. Computers, office equipment and fittings.
5. Prepayments for rents, services and advertising.
6. Relevant services purchased within six months prior to your date of VAT registration.
7. Check our list Expenses to claim against tax.
What to exclude -
VAT not reclaimable; what you can't claim:

1. VAT on goods or services sold or used before the Start date of your first return.
2. Anything which relates to previous sales which are not VATable.

All sales made after the Start date of your first return must account for VAT even if you are not able to recover this from your customer. Where customers are able to recover VAT you can go back to them with a VAT invoice for the additional amounts.

See our brief description about what system of bookkeeping to choose.

  • Period before VAT start date:
  • Transactions taking place before VAT registration also need to be recorded for annual accounts. See our brief list of expenses to claim against VAT and tax.
  • List these separately.
  • Items claimable against VAT, see above.
  • Items not claimable against VAT.
  • Contact us for free day books, cash book and VAT account in Excel spreadsheet format.

Please refer to
VAT700 HMRC General guide for detailed VAT procedures and
Client bookkeeping guide pdf for general bookkeeping guidance.

If you need further advice and help, on how to complete first vat return, please contact us or ring Customs and Excise National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 between 800am and 800pm, Monday to Friday.

Save problems in the future, contact us about setting up bookkeeping and VAT