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The first 7 digits are random numbers and the last 2 digits are based on a formula using the first 7 numbers.
If the mathematical check works out it only shows that the VAT number is valid, not that it is proper to the business quoting it or that it has not been de-registered You can check an EU VAT number (including the UK) on-line (
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is only updated monthly so including delays in the local Member States tax authorities the data could be 6 – 8 weeks out-of-date.
So for example, the VAT number for HSBC bank is GB 365684514 the calculation is: The total of the above calculation is 24 42 30 30 32 12 10=180.
Even if there is a VAT registration number on an invoice it may be a false number.
All United Kingdom (UK) VAT registration numbers have nine digits.
Andrew Needham This article was first printed in Tax Insider in May 2012.
To be honest I thought I was pretty ‘clued-up’ on tax issues.
To confirm that both the number is valid and that it belongs to the trader quoting it, ring the VAT Helpline.