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Postponed accounting for Great Britain businesses

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How to use postponed accounting for Great Britain businesses in Sage Accounting.


If you import goods, you'll most likely pay import VAT and duty. This applies if the goods you buy are subject to VAT in the UK. For most imported goods the standard 20% VAT rate is applied.

Postponed accounting allows you to declare and recover import VAT in the same VAT return, rather than paying import VAT on or soon after the goods arrive at the UK border and then reclaiming this on your next VAT return.

This can be done on a transaction by transaction basis and means businesses don't have to pay import VAT for goods at the UK border or reclaim the VAT from HMRC.

Great Britain - England, Scotland and Wales

Businesses registered in Great Britain can use postponed accounting for importing goods from the EU and the rest of the world.

Northern Ireland

Businesses registered in Northern Ireland can use postponed accounting for importing goods from outside the EU. Importing from the EU continues as before Brexit.

Make sure you have an EORI number

To import goods, you'll need an Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI).

HMRC guidance - Get an EORI number

About postponed accounting

Record transactions using postponed accounting

The way you record your Import VAT will usually depend on when you receive your documents.

  • Estimate the VAT when you receive your supplier's invoice

    This is likely to be the most common scenario. Consider this method when there is likely to a be a long gap between receiving the invoice for the goods and receiving the monthly statement (C79) from HMRC

  • Don't estimate the VAT on your supplier invoice and record the import VAT when you get your monthly statement from HMRC (C79 certificate). 

    Consider this method if you receive your monthly statement and supplier invoice in the same period

  • Declare the postponed VAT when you receive the invoice from your Import agent 

    Consider this method when your import agent provides an accurate postponed VAT value for you

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