Backdate VAT registration and where is it possible?

By / In EU VAT / June 14, 2024

VAT registration is an essential aspect of any business that conducts commercial activities. One interesting and often misunderstood aspect of this process is the possibility of retrospective VAT registration. This practice allows companies to make changes to their tax status from a previous date. That can be critical for financial planning and reporting. This article will examine where exactly backdate VAT registration is possible, what conditions and requirements exist in different countries, and what benefits and potential business risks may contain.


What is retrospective VAT registration?

Retrospective VAT registration is a process in which a company obtains the tax status of a VAT payer from a previous date rather than from the date of application or its approval. This allows companies to consider tax liabilities and pay VAT contributions for the previous period.


Backdating VAT Registration Requirements

1. Documentation Requirements

For successful backdating of VAT registration, it is necessary to provide detailed documentation confirming the company’s past activities. That includes contracts, invoices, agreements, bank statements, and other documents that prove the company’s transactions.

2. Legal obligations

Backdate registration is possible only under certain conditions, and the requirements for such registrations differ from those provided by the legislation of the chosen country of registration. Having solid grounds for such registration is crucial to avoid any unpredictable problems with the tax authorities.

3. Operational features

The backdating of VAT registration invariably involves additional steps, such as tax authority audits, submission of supporting business documentation, and filing of prior declarations. Retrospective registration, depending on the jurisdiction, may take longer than standard procedures and necessitates close collaboration with tax authorities. Rules and opportunities for backdating VAT registration can vary significantly across different countries. It is a common practice in some jurisdictions, while in others, it may be severely restricted or even prohibited.

4. Financial implications

One of the key features is the need to file all tax returns without exception and to settle them in full. However, these conditions are accompanied by the risk of fines or penalties for late registration.


Brief overview by country

The rules and options for backdating VAT registration vary substantially across European Union countries. Below, we will explore some popular countries and the conditions or specific features under which backdating is possible.



Backdating VAT registration is possible in Germany. Companies must present evidence that their taxable activities were initiated before the application date. Supporting documents are mandatory to validate transactions undertaken in the previous period.


In France, the possibility of retroactive VAT registration is quite acceptable. As in Germany, if a company can prove that it should have registered earlier but failed to do so due to administrative or technical problems, it can do so by providing supporting documents at the request of the tax office.



Backdating VAT registration is not an option in Italy. Companies are registered for VAT on the date they file their documents with the tax authorities. There is no other way to register for VAT.


United Kingdom

The UK is relatively flexible regarding backdating, permitting VAT registration retrospectively on condition that proof of sales and supplies of goods into the country in the prior period is provided.


Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic, it is possible to register retrospectively if you have evidence of conducting business during the period you want to register. Such evidence may include contracts with warehouses during the specified period, invoices for the purchase of goods, invoices for the sale of goods to final customers, etc.



Backdating VAT registration is allowed in the Netherlands. Companies can apply for backdating if they can present a valid reason for not registering on time and provide evidence of taxable activities conducted in the past period.



If a company decides to register retrospectively, it will be required to provide a comprehensive explanation of the reasons for the delay. In cases where a company has failed to register from the date it was required to do so, and has not filed or paid its tax returns, the tax authorities will impose a significant penalty and additional surcharges for each late payment. This process is strictly regulated in Spain and requires careful attention to detail.



Retrospective VAT registration is allowed in Belgium. Businesses must furnish the standard registration documents and several proofs of past taxable activities in the country.



Retrospective VAT registration is allowed in Sweden but dated back not more than one year from the application date.



In Poland, retroactive VAT registration is possible, but the process is quite strict. If you have not registered as a VAT payer despite the obligation to do so after you have exceeded the threshold or have not filed tax returns, the tax authority may impose a hefty fine. Failure to register as a VAT payer, adding failure to file tax returns and non-payment of taxes, is considered a non-disclosure of the tax base. This is a criminal offense of tax evasion, which is punishable by a fine or other penalties.



In Austria, it is also possible to register with a previous date. However, it is also worth remembering that after completing the registration, you must file and pay all the necessary VAT returns and sometimes additional charges for late filing.



Retrospective VAT registration is essential for companies seeking to legalize their past taxable activities and take advantage of tax benefits. The possibility of such registration depends on specific conditions and rules in different countries. In most EU countries, retroactive VAT registration is possible but requires detailed financial documentation confirming the taxable transactions and justification of the reasons for late registration. Understanding and complying with these requirements will help businesses avoid penalties and improve their financial planning, ensuring compliance with each country’s tax laws.