FAQ Guide: Understanding Reverse Charge VAT for UK Businesses

Author: Chris Neame BFP FCA CA(ANZ)


Navigating the reverse charge VAT mechanism in the UK can be complex, especially for businesses engaged in cross-border transactions. This guide aims to simplify the concept, ensuring you comprehend how it affects your transactions and bookkeeping practices.


What is Reverse Charge VAT?

Q: How does the reverse charge VAT mechanism work?

A: The reverse charge is a tax mechanism that shifts the responsibility of reporting VAT from the seller to the buyer of a service or goods. Instead of the seller, the buyer reports both their purchase (input VAT) and the supplier’s sale (output VAT) on their VAT return.


When is Reverse Charge VAT Applicable?

Q: In which scenarios is reverse charge VAT applicable?

A: It primarily applies to business-to-business transactions involving services supplied by a business outside the UK to a VAT-registered business in the UK, and certain goods and services under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

Example: Facebook Advertising


Q: How does reverse charge VAT apply to Facebook advertising services?

A: For UK businesses purchasing advertising services from Facebook, a company not based in the UK, reverse charge VAT applies. The UK business must account for the VAT on their VAT return, treating the purchase as both a supply received and made, without actually paying VAT to Facebook.


Bookkeeping Requirements

Q: What bookkeeping practices should be followed for reverse charge VAT transactions?

A: Businesses must:

  • Record reverse charge purchases and sales separately in their accounting system.
  • Ensure VAT returns accurately reflect reverse charge transactions, including them in both purchases (input VAT) and sales (output VAT).
  • Maintain clear documentation of all transactions subject to the reverse charge mechanism to support VAT return entries.
  • Ensuring Compliance


Q: How can I ensure my business complies with reverse charge VAT rules?

A: Familiarize yourself with the specific services and goods subject to reverse charge VAT, update your accounting practices accordingly, and consult with a VAT expert if unsure about specific transactions or reporting requirements.



Understanding and applying reverse charge VAT correctly is crucial for VAT-registered businesses involved in international services or certain domestic sectors. Proper bookkeeping and compliance with reverse charge rules are essential to avoid penalties and ensure accurate VAT reporting.

Navigating VAT obligations requires careful planning and timely action. Early preparation and, where necessary, consultation with a professional can help ensure compliance and optimise your company’s tax position.

For any further queries, please don’t hesitate to reach out via our Client Services email. We’re here to help!


About Neame & Co 

At Neame & Co we specialise in stress free company filing: the easy way to file your year end Company Accounts and Corporate Tax Return to Companies House and HMRC. Maximise tax efficiency, real human support throughout and 100% online and paperless service. Visit Neame & Co for more details on how we can help!

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Based in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire and servicing the UK

Neame & Co is a trading name of Neame & Co Accountants Limited which is registered in England & Wales under Company Registration No. 14012065. Neame & Co is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office under registration No. ZB377959. VAT Registration No. 422891687.