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Claiming back VAT on costs prior to registration

I have been running my own business for several years and my turnover has recently exceeded the VAT registration threshold. I have registered with HMRC and am waiting for my VAT number and certificate. Can I claim back VAT on purchases made by the business before the registration date?

A. There is a time limit for backdating claims for VAT incurred before the effective date of registration. From the date of registration, the time limit is:

  • 4 years for goods you still have, or that were used to make other goods you still have;
  • 6 months for services.

You can only reclaim VAT on purchases for the business now registered for VAT and they must relate to your ‘business purpose’. This means they must relate to VAT taxable goods or services that you supply.

You should reclaim them on your first VAT return and keep records including:

  • invoices and receipts;
  • a description and purchase dates;
  • information about how they relate to your business now.

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