Check if NI numbers and VAT numbers are valid

A guide to help you determine if NI numbers and VAT numbers are valid.

Certain PAYE returns (P35, P11D) will be rejected by HMR&C if a National Insurance number (NINO) is incorrectly displayed. Valid numbers always follow the same format, two letters, followed by six numbers, followed by a single letter. i.e. AB123456D.

The following information sets out the valid alpha prefixes and suffixes. If you are at all uncertain that you have been given a correct NINO, you should check with your local tax office.

Valid National Insurance Number Prefixes:

AA, AB, AE, AH, AK, AL, AM, AP, AR, AS, AT, AW, AX, AY, AZ BA, BB, BE, BH, BK, BL, BM, BT CA, CB, CE, CH, CK, CL, CR EA, EB, EE, EH, EK, EL, EM, EP, ER, ES, ET, EW, EX, EY, EZ GY HA, HB, HE, HH, HK, HL, HM, HP, HR, HS, HT, HW, HX, HY, HZ JA, JB, JC, JE, JG, JH, JJ, JK, JL, JM, JN, JP, JR, JS, JT, JW, JX, JY, JZ KA, KB, KE, KH, KK, KL, KM, KP, KR, KS, KT, KW, KX, KY, KZ LA, LB, LE, LH, LK, LL, LM, LP, LR, LS, LT, LW, LX, LY, LZ MA, MW, MX NA, NB, NE, NH, NL, NM, NP, NR, NS, NW, NX, NY, NZ OA, OB, OE, OH, OK, OL, OM, OP, OR, OS, OX PA, PB, PC, PE, PG, PH, PJ, PK, PL, PM, PN, PP, PR, PS, PT, PW, PX, PY RA, RB, RE, RH, RK, RM, RP, RR, RS, RT, RW, RX, RY, RZ SA, SB, SC, SE, SG, SH, SJ, SK, SL, SM, SN, SP, SR, SS, ST, SW, SX, SY ,SZ TA, TB, TE, TH, TK, TL, TM, TP, TR, TS, TT, TW, TX, TY, TZ WA, WB, WE, WK, WL, WM, WP YA, YB, YE, YH, YK, YL, YM, YP, YR, YS, YT, YW, YX, YY, YZ ZA, ZB, ZE, ZH, ZK, ZL, ZM, ZP, ZR, ZS, ZT, ZW, ZX, ZY

The characters D, F, I, Q, U and V are not used as either the first or second letter of a National Insurance Number prefix.

Valid National Insurance Number Suffixes:

The final alpha of the NINO should be A, B, C, or D.
VAT Registration numbers

There are occasions when the validity of a VAT registration number is critical. Particularly:

  • When you make a supply to a registered European Union trader, or
  • When you receive an invoice from a supplier on which VAT has been added.

Supply to EU trader

If it appears that the VAT number you have been given is incorrect, you should charge VAT rather than exempt the supply.

Purchase of goods/services from registered UK trader.

One of the aspects that qualifies a supply for a reclaim of input tax charged, is if the invoice shows a valid VAT registration number. Although HMR&C have discretion to allow a deduction even if the number is wrong, the discretion only applies in certain circumstances.

How to check a VAT registration number.

There are two ways to check the validity of a VAT number:

1. Call HMR&C 0845-010-9000.
2. A more hi-tech solution, visit the Europa web site at http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/vieshome.do, select the correct member state and enter the VAT number you have been given. This will only confirm if the number is a valid registration number. There is no way to use this service to confirm the number belongs to your customer/supplier

Davies McLennon are Stockport Accountants

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