A VAT Refund Guide to 

United Kingdom (UK)

How to get VAT Refunds from United Kingdom (UK) for your business

If your business is registered outside of the United Kingdom, you may be eligible for VAT refunds on costs accrued in the UK.
The below information details the requirements needed to be eligible for a VAT refund. This includes claimable expense types, UK VAT rates, deadlines and claiming periods.
united-kingdom | Circular Flag visual device

Where is your company based?


based businesses

eu map transparent | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

VAT-registered businesses in an EU member state are eligible to recover VAT on business costs from United Kingdom (UK) under the EU VAT Refund Directive.


based businesses

non eu map transparent | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

VAT-registered businesses outside of the European Union are eligible to recover VAT on business costs from United Kingdom (UK) under the 13th Directive.

Which countries have reciprocity with United Kingdom (UK)?

All countries can claim

For a more detailed explanation on what reciprocity means within the scope of VAT, click here:

United Kingdom VAT Rates

Since 1973, the United Kingdom has been levying value-added tax (VAT) on the majority of goods and services within its borders. The UK VAT purposes include generating tax revenues for the UK government and replacing the purchase tax. 

When it was first unveiled, the UK VAT rate was 10%, though it has fluctuated during times of economic boom and bust. The most recent rate change took place at the beginning of 2011 when the standard rate increased from 17.5% to 20% (where it remains today). A reduced VAT rate of 5% applies to certain goods and services. 

More recently, VAT in the UK has been complicated by the Brexit referendum and the UK’s subsequent split from the EU. Time will tell if this political shift will affect rates.

VAT UK Rates: Standard, Reduced, and Zero

The United Kingdom splits its VAT rates into three categories:

  • Standard rate (20%) – Most goods and services fall under the standard rate.
  • Reduced rate (5%) – A handful of goods and services qualify for a reduced rate, including some products related to energy and wellbeing.
  • Zero rate (0%) – Select goods and services, including food, are referred to as “zero-rated.”

As a non-UK company traveling or doing business in the UK, you may be eligible to receive a refund on some of your expenses. When it comes to a potential VAT refund UK regulations will dictate how much you’re owed.

How to Pay VAT Bill in the United Kingdom

Typically, VAT-registered businesses need to submit their VAT returns to HM Revenue and Customs four times per year. However, if your estimated VAT taxable turnover is less than or equal to £1.35 million, you can join the Annual Accounting Scheme and submit once per year.

For quarterly VAT submissions, the deadline is generally one month and seven days after the reporting period. For the Annual Scheme, your due date is two months after the end of your accounting period. You can sign in to your VAT UK account to determine when your submission is due.

To complete a same-day or next-day payment, you can use the following:

  • Automated payment (CHAPS)
  • Online or telephone banking (Faster Payments)
  • Your online bank account

For payments processed in up to three working days, your options include:

  • Bank transfer (Bacs)
  • Direct debit
  • In-person payments at your bank or building society
  • Online payments via debit or corporate credit card
  • Standing order (if using the Annual Accounting Scheme or Payments on Account)

There are penalties for not submitting on time, so be sure to select a system that works with your timeline.

United Kingdom VAT Compliance

All VAT-registered businesses must comply with certain VAT rules and regulations. Most requirements involve the proper filing and retention of invoices and records. For example, all invoices must be properly signed, and you must hold onto all relevant documents and accounts for at least seven years.

Additionally, all VAT submissions must use approved foreign currency rates (if applicable). Should there be any issues with VAT compliance, the organization in charge of VAT in the UK (HMRC) may schedule a compliance check.



BBC. What is VAT and how does it work? https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-53334098

GOV.UK. VAT Rates. https://www.gov.uk/vat-rates

GOV.UK. VAT Annual Accounting Scheme. https://www.gov.uk/vat-annual-accounting-scheme

GOV.UK. Pay your VAT bill. https://www.gov.uk/pay-vat

What expenses are claimable in United Kingdom (UK)?


play 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)


Only for staff
bed 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Hotels & Accommodation

eat 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)




microphone 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Conferences, Trade Shows & Exhibitions

convention 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Training Courses & Seminars



goods 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)


company 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Inter-company charges

chair 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Office Expenses

megaphone 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Marketing Costs

docs 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Professional Fees & AP invoices



car 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Car Rental

Only 50% is claimable
fuel 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)


train 001 | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)

Public Transport

| VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)



Additional Information

How far back can your business claim VAT from United Kingdom (UK)?
1 July of the previous year to 30 June of the following year
What’s the foreign VAT deadline in United Kingdom (UK)?
31 December of each year
How long does it take to receive a VAT refund from United Kingdom (UK)?
Depending on the complexity of your application and the capacity at the VAT authority, it can take up to 4 months for EU businesses and up to 6 months for Non-EU businesses to receive a VAT refund from UK

Need help with your VAT refund from United Kingdom (UK)?

You don’t have to do this alone. We’ve been helping companies reclaim foreign VAT refunds for over 20 years. We have the knowledge and technology to process your refunds quicker as well as attend to any unforeseen VAT authority queries that may arise.

Download a full international VAT guide and never miss a deadline

vatit header logo | VAT IT | United Kingdom (UK)