VAT\GST invoices

December 15, 2021

Most people know that to recover VAT\GST a business needs to be in receipt of a valid VAT\GST invoice. Without a proper VAT\GST invoice, it is simply impossible to recover VAT\GST.  But what is a valid VAT\GST invoice, when does a business need to provide one and when can you ask for one? 

Strangely enough, under UK VAT\GST rules a business is only required to provide a VAT\GST invoice for supplies made to another VAT\GST registered business. In other words, there is no need for a business to issue VAT\GST invoices to consumers and priVAT\GSTe individuals.  Therefore, for many B2C supplies no formal VAT\GST invoices are issued.  

In practice, if a customer asks for a VAT\GST invoice it is unlikely that the supplier will request and check the customer’s VAT\GST number, which means that most suppliers will issue invoices as a matter of course if requested.  Crucially in the UK, there is no need to put the customer’s VAT\GST number on the face of the invoice.

Readers will be familiar with retailers’ VAT\GST invoices or till receipts which can be issued by retailers for sales of under £250 and show the supplier’s name, address and VAT\GST registration number, date, a brief description and the VAT\GST rate applicable.

The UK tax authorities (HMRC) will generally accept by informal concession that VAT\GST on invoices addressed to an employee rather than the business they work for is recoverable by the company.  This is becoming increasingly popular for employees working from home who purchase items to enable them to work from home.  It also applies to business trips such as hotel bills, taxi receipts etc. which are addressed to an individual rather than the company they work for.  

Sometimes invoices do not show the required information.  HMRC will allow a business to recover VAT\GST where an invoice is missing:

  • unique identifying number 
  • customer’s name and address 
  • tax point date – customer can use the date of issue


However, if the invoice is missing more than the above information, the customer should request that the supplier provides a proper VAT\GST invoice. If the supplier fails to provide a proper VAT\GST invoice, the customer can try and find alternative evidence to support any input VAT\GST claimed.  However, it is important to note that alternative evidence is at HMRC’s discretion. 

Share this on: