Electronic refunds of UK VAT for overseas businesses
Non-UK businesses can now opt to make UK VAT refund claims electronically.
If certain conditions are met businesses established in countries outside the UK can reclaim VAT incurred in the UK. Prior to Brexit EU businesses submitted their UK refund applications electronically via the EU cross-border VAT refund portal in their own countries. However, after Brexit the portal could no longer be used to make UK refund claims and EU businesses had to use the paper-based refund process that was in place for non-EU businesses.
New electronic refund process
Since 2020 HMRC have been testing a new system for the electronic submission of claims. The trial was initially restricted to a small number of agents. It was subsequently extended to all agents that regularly submitted claims and has now been opened up to all agents and businesses.
The claims are submitted electronically using HMRC’s Secure Data Exchange Service (SDES) system. The system is optional and there are no immediate plans to make it mandatory.
How to apply to use the electronic system
During the testing period businesses and agents need to email email@example.com to request access to the system.
Whilst it is being tested if for any reason HMRC need to stop the service, guidance will be updated to advise users how to submit their claims. Should this situation arise, claims that have already been submitted through SDES will not be affected.
Businesses that want to submit an electronic claim ahead of the 31 December deadline must apply to register on or before 30 November. Businesses that do not want to use the service to submit claims, or have not registered to use it by 30 November, must make their claims by post.
Please get in touch if you are a foreign business that requires assistance with refunds of UK VAT.