Unfortunately the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are currently unable to process applications for VAT registration as quickly as they would like. They are working hard to improve this, but the average time to process applications is 38 days at present.
If your application was sent to them within the last 6 weeks, they would ask that you do not contact them to chase progress. They will not have any additional information to provide and dealing with these enquiries takes resource away from processing and can create further delays.
VAT registration can be the entry point to very significant VAT fraud. To counter this, a small number (around 5%) of applications need further checks before they can be processed. These checks can take up to 15 weeks although most are completed more quickly. If your application needs these additional checks, we will tell you in writing.
You should be aware that you are required to account for and pay any VAT due from the date you are liable to be registered, not just from the date you apply for registration or from when you receive your certificate.
Although you cannot charge VAT before you are registered or show VAT as a separate item on any invoices you issue, you can change your prices to include VAT. You can do this from the date you should be registered and before you receive your Certificate of Registration. You will need to explain to your customers that you will be sending them VAT invoices later. Once you have your registration number you should send the invoices, showing VAT, within 30 days. If you have asked for voluntary registration you will need to start accounting for VAT from the registration date you asked for on your application form, as long as you actually made supplies/provided services from that date.
If you are starting a business and thinking about VAT registration, you may find it helpful to build these timings into your planning.