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The EU data base is only updated monthly so including delays in the local Member States tax authorities the data could be 6 – 8 weeks out-of-date.
As such a business may have registered for VAT but not be on the system yet or may have de-registered and still appear on the system.
For UK VAT numbers do the following exercise: Excluding the first two letters, list the numbers vertically and multiply each by a value starting with 8 and ending with 2.
Just one of these tips is going to allow us to claim an extra £100 per week as a tax deductible expense which I didn’t previously know was possible.
Another downside of the system is that you can only check one VAT number at a time rather than batches so if you have a several numbers to check it can be time consuming.
Keep a record of the checks you have made and take a screen print of the EU website showing that the VAT number was valid at the time that you checked it if HMRC queries it.
No doubt the majority of such cases are innocent errors, such as printing mistakes.
However, the fraudulent use of another trader’s number is prevalent in certain sectors of business, so checking is potentially a valuable precaution.
The Data Protection Act stops them giving information about another trader.