If you are a trader in any EU country including the UK that follows vat then you should apply for a vat certificate as soon as you reach the vat threshold. You will then be allowed to issue vat invoices, file vat returns and most importantly, claim vat refunds for vat tax already paid on goods and services.
If you are a trader in the UK then the HM Revenue and Customs department or hmrc has set a VAT threshold limit of achieving £70,000 of taxable sales within the past 12 months as a criterion for turning into a vat registered trader. You can also apply before you reach this limit in case you feel that you have to issue vat invoices for all your clients. Once you do decide to apply for a certificate that allows you to trade as an official vat trader then you can simply download the require vat registration form from the hmrc website.
If you are an individual trader then you can just fill up the VAT 1 registration form online and submit it immediately. In case your trading business is a partnership firm, group of companies, import firm, or distance-selling firm, then you can download and print the applicable vat form but will need to fill it up and send it back to the hmrc vat department. It will take roughly between 10 to 30 days for you to receive your vat registration and vat certificate provided hmrc does not have any additional queries.
However, once you do apply to turn into a vat registered trader then you will need to include the applicable vat rates in your invoices without showing them separately. Once you receive your vat registration then you will need to re-issue these invoices as vat invoices, show the vat amounts separately, and also pay the vat collected to hmrc in your next vat return. You will need to file your vat returns on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis based on the vat accounting scheme that you choose. You should anyway hire an efficient vat agent that has complete knowledge of customs and excise customs vat, uk vat and eu vat, especially if you plan to import goods into the UK from neighboring vat friendly eu countries.
If you import goods and services into the UK where vat has already been paid in the original country then your vat agent can help you to file for vat reclaim so that double-taxation is avoided on them. You will need to provide proof in the form of your vat certificate while applying for vat refunds to show that you are indeed a genuine vat registered trader in the UK. It will take between 4 to 8 months for your vat refund to materialize although you should apply for refunds to lower your business costs and inject vital funds back into your business.
If you want to become a vat registered trader in the UK and claim vat back on goods and services then you will need to apply for the official certificate from hmrc vat department. The process is quite simple and you can easily download the applicable vat form from hmrc, fill it up, and send it back to the vat department. If there are no further queries then you can certainly expect your vat certificate within a month.