VAT Director Rayner Essex
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Freight transportation

Postponed import VAT: Your questions answered


There is still a lot of confusion around postponed import VAT, so Jason Croke has addressed five of the many questions posted on Any Answers on this topic, which all relate to real life situations.

29th Oct 2021
VAT Director Rayner Essex
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Some of the frustrations relating to Brexit have been around having to do things differently. Postponed import VAT is one of those frustrations that have come up time and time again on AccountingWEB’s Any Answers forum.

I will be going into more detail on the implications of Brexit on VAT and customs at my business tax update at AccountingWEB Live Expo on 2 December. Registration is now open to attend the event at Coventry Building Society Arena

But until then, hopefully this article will answer some of those burning questions.

1. I don’t know where to access the Monthly Postponed Import EU Statements (MPIVS).

Logging into your government gateway does not give you access to the MPIVS. You need to login via a specific link on this page, and then log into your government gateway, so bookmark this page: Get  your postponed import VAT statement.

Don’t forget to download your MPIVS or print them out, because they are only available online for a maximum of six months. 

2. I haven’t paid any import VAT and I’ve not had any paperwork from HMRC or freight agent.

Some freight agents default to using postponed import VAT accounting, even if you’ve not asked them.  If you’ve not done so already, enrol for the Customs Declaration Service (CD), and then you will receive a monthly reminder email, and a link to log onto your gateway and find your MPIVS.

The scenario could arise where you are not aware you are postponing VAT. When you do realise and enrol for the CD service, those earlier statements may no longer be visible, because the MPIVS only stay online for six months. 

Do check sooner rather than later that you have access to CDS/MPIVS before it is too late.

3. The invoice from the EU supplier has no VAT on it, do I reverse charge like before?

If the invoice is for services, then you do still reverse charge those invoices as you did prior to Brexit.  But if the invoice is for goods from the EU, then we no longer reverse charge.

Imports where the freight agent pays the import VAT at the dock/port, or where you have a deferment account, then you will receive a C79 in the post from HMRC. Then use this C79 is your document to reclaim the VAT.

For imports where you are using Postponed Import VAT accounting – whether by request or freight agent assumption – use the government gateway to access your MPIVS.

It is important to remember that unless you are using the same freight agent every time, that your imports will be handled by different couriers and freight agents and unless they are instructed beforehand, then some will default to postponed import VAT accounting, some will just use their own deferment account and recharge you and the C79 will arrive in the post afterwards.

Your accounts team need to be aware of these two different ways in which VAT can be treated on imports.

4. I was expecting a C79 but have not received it in the post as yet.

First check your paperwork, the freight agent may have defaulted to postponed VAT without telling you.  The C79 certificates are sent in the post and so it is possible for them to get lost, in which case you can request copies from HMRC.

5. How do I account for import VAT in my accounting software?

Different accounting packages have different ways of dealing with import VAT. Remember that import VAT can be paid by freight agent/deferment and then reclaimed afterwards (using C79 certificate) or by postponing (MPIVS).

For a fully taxable business that can reclaim all input tax, it is important to be get the coding/data entry correct, because you need to ensure you are compliant for Making Tax Digital (MTD) purposes.Remember that MTD will apply to all VAT registered businesses from April 2022

For businesses which are partially exempt, it is especially important to get the VAT coding correct, as a partially exempt business may not be able to reclaim all of the VAT it incurs, including import VAT.

Speak with your accounting software provider for an update on what coding to use.

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By rmillaree
04th Nov 2021 16:37

Thanks for this excellent article Jason

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