March 11 2013.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is urging new businesses which need to register for VAT to do it online, rather than on paper.

Registering for VAT online is easier, more secure and faster than using a paper form. As well as avoiding postal delays, the online system provides on-screen help and you get an immediate on-screen acknowledgment that HMRC has received your application.

If you apply for VAT registration online, HMRC will also enroll you automatically for its VAT Online service, so you can submit VAT Returns online. In addition, your certificate of registration will be available to you online.

HMRC has also revamped its VAT Online service so that it now offers a new variation service - allowing businesses to change their VAT registration details - and a new online de-registration service, for businesses who want to cancel their VAT registration.

HMRC's Gill Evans said: "Around four out of five new businesses already register online for VAT.

"VAT returns must be submitted online, and payments must be made electronically, so it makes sense to get online at the first stage of the VAT process, by registering via our website."

To find out how to sign up to register for VAT, visit the HMRC website at  

Help and advice is also available from the VAT Online Helpdesk on 0845 010 8500.