VAT Numbers: What Are They And Why You Need To Check Them

Check and find a company VAT number using the Red Flag Alert Free Company Search tool. Our free company reports are designed to give you insight into the businesses you're dealing with, in order to make smart financial decisions.


What is a VAT Number?

VAT (value added tax) identification numbers are unique numbers assigned to a company or non-taxable legal entity. Most countries use VAT but some use Goods and Services Tax (GST), which performs a similar economic purpose. In the UK, HMRC issue VAT numbers.

VAT numbers are used as a way to identify a company for tax and payment purposes.


Who needs a VAT number?

VAT numbers are only applied to businesses and some other entities which interact with the VAT system; it does not apply to individuals.

In the UK, any firm earning above £85,000 per annum is obliged to register for VAT, as is any foreign company trading in the UK or providing taxable supplies.

 UK firms earning below the £85,000 threshold may voluntarily register for VAT if they wish.

Where can I find a company VAT number?

You should be able to find a company’s VAT number on an invoice that they have provided you with. You can also ask a company for their VAT number. These methods do not protect you from being given accidentally or fraudulently incorrect information.

Red Flag Alert is your source of truth for UK VAT numbers. Our platform has VAT number information fed directly from official databases and can be found in our detailed but easy to understand company reports. VAT number information is also available to non-subscribers via our free company reports.

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How to check VAT number information

There are several ways to check that you have been provided with correct VAT number information.

Red Flag Alert company reports

VAT number information is displayed clearly and accurately on all Red Flag Alert company credit reports.

Red Flag Alert free company reports

Non-subscribers can check a VAT number and other business information via our free company report service.

HMRC VAT helpline

HMRC maintains the official database of UK VAT numbers and operates a helpline which is available on 0300 200 3700. website

The official UK government website allows you to check that a VAT number you have been given is valid and will supply the name and address of the company it is linked to. Visit the Government website to access this service.


Why do I need to check that you have correct VAT number information?

There are two main reasons to check that you have correct VAT number information.

The first is to ensure that there have been no errors in recording this information, be it from you or your suppliers. Mistakes do happen and should you have incorrect VAT number information when claiming back VAT, HMRC will refuse your claim.

The second, and most important, reason is to protect yourself against fraud. Fraudsters frequently set up bogus companies at Companies House and use false VAT numbers to add to a veneer of legitimacy. These numbers may be entirely made up or may be the VAT numbers of a different but legitimate company. By checking that the VAT number you have been given is real and, if it is, that the company details it is linked to match the details of the company you are hoping to do business with.

Checking VAT number information forms an important part of an effective due diligence process.

Find a VAT number today!

Take advantage of Red Flag Alert’s free company search tool to check a VAT number in the UK.



About Red Flag Alert

Red Flag Alert is a leading business data and compliance software platform originally developed by the UK’s leading insolvency practitioners, Begbies Traynor. Now a separate company, Red Flag Alert maintains its expertise in predicting the early warning signs of risk and also brings it to AML compliance. 

Red Flag Alert has a cutting-edge, fully digital platform with a fully compliant suite of AML and enhanced due diligence checks that have been designed specifically to solve the problem of AML compliance and due diligence slowing down business.  With advanced AI powering the platform, it takes less than a minute of staff time to send out each check, which a customer then conveniently completes directly on their device. 

As well as making their compliance processes more efficient, with Red Flag Alert, businesses can access detailed company reports on all UK businesses. Each report contains full financial information, business credit scores, financial history and UBO information.

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