Once a company has received approval for an VAT number, see our EU VAT Number Registration briefing, it will receive a VAT number.
Each EU member country has a slightly different format for their VAT number system, featuring a variation of numbers and letters. It is important that companies take close care in using the correct format as the numbers are frequently checked against the VIES system, and errors may create delays or even fines. Country codes, two letters, are inserted before the VAT number if the company is using the number for the purposes of intra-community trade.
Below is a summary of the standard formats for each EU country.
|EU country||Country code||VAT number format|
The first character is always a ‘U’
Prefix with zero ‘0’ if the customer provides a 9 digit VAT number
|9 or 10 characters|
The last character must always be a letter
|8, 9 or 10 characters|
If more than 10 characters are provided delete the first 3
May include alphabetical characters (any except O or I) as first or second or first and second characters.
|8 or 9 characters|
Includes one or two alphabetical characters (last, or second and last, or last 2)
|9 or 12 characters|
|Netherlands||NL||123456789B01||12 characters |
The 10th character is always B
Includes 1 or 2 alphabetical characters (first or last or first and last)
|United Kingdom||UK||123456789||9 characters|