International businesses affected by Covid-19 will have more time to make UK VAT refund claims, it has been confirmed.

The change – which affects only overseas businesses not based in the EU – comes after concerns that national coronavirus restrictions may prevent some companies from filing on time.

Prior to the pandemic, overseas businesses who incurred VAT in the UK between 2019 and 2020 were required to submit their application under the overseas VAT refund scheme, complete with their certificate of status, on or before 31 December 2020.

However, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has now confirmed that where local restrictions are preventing or delaying a certificate of status from being produced, an extension to claiming a VAT refund may be granted.

According to the regulator, businesses will still have to submit the VAT refund claim on or before 31 December 2020 but will have an additional six months to file a valid certificate of status.

This means that all evidence must be submitted by 30 June 2021 in order to receive a refund.

Commenting on the update, HMRC said: “[We are] aware that businesses, or their agents and advisers, are experiencing difficulties in obtaining the required certificate of status from their official issuing authorities due to measures taken by jurisdictions in response to coronavirus (COVID-19). In the current circumstances, overseas businesses may not be able to submit their claims (with a certificate of status) by the deadline.

“HMRC has agreed that due to this specific circumstance, we will allow overseas businesses an additional six months to submit a valid certificate of status, which means the certificate of status must be submitted on or before 30 June 2021.”

The tax office added: “Businesses must still submit their application for VAT refunds and all other documentary evidence required to process the 2019 to 2020 claims on or before 31 December 2020.”

For help and advice on related VAT issues, please get in touch with our expert tax team today.

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