- Aparna registered for VAT in June and was left waiting until 13 October
- Delays made her consider moving her business out of the UK
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A small business owner has told This Is Money she is considering moving her business out of the UK after facing long HMRC delays.
Aparna moved to the UK on a skilled work visa, building a career in artificial intelligence before she came up with the idea for a networking business.
She registered the business for VAT in June but was left waiting until October for a VAT number.
Aparna told This Is Money she has lost out on business and is missing out on resources from her MBA course in the meantime.
A small business owner has said she is considering moving to Dubai because of HMRC delays
On 29 June, HMRC informed Aparna that they were processing her VAT registration and that it would take up to 40 days.
She did not hear anything from them and after chasing via email for three and a half months, HMRC eventually issued Aparna a VAT registration number (VRN) on 13 October.
However, this is not enough for Aparna to properly launch her business due to visa restrictions, meaning she is facing further delays.
‘I need a VAT certificate for a business licence. The VRN doesn’t help me and I need a business licence to move things forward,’ she told This Is Money.
‘I didn’t expect it to be so delayed, this isn’t something you accept from the Government. The registration of the business was quick but without VAT I can’t apply for a business licence, which I need to switch my visa.’
Aparna is currently in the UK on a skilled worker visa but needs to switch to another visa to launch her company.
‘I can’t formally start taking business or promoting it in a major way until these basic, fundamental things are sorted out. It’s creating a major bottleneck.
‘I want to start this. I have customers ready to start paying [but] until things are legally in place, I can’t start generating revenue.’
Thankfully, the delays have not affected Aparna’s income as she is working as a marketing manager but she says she should’ve switched visas months ago.
She told This Is Money that the HMRC delays mean she is losing out on work and resources she has through her part-time MBA course.
‘I’ll be graduating at the end of the year. As a student, I have all of these resources and help from the startup incubator, access to my professors… the delay isn’t helping me make the most of the resources.
‘I’m not utilising my college and the resources, and my time is being wasted.’
All of this has culminated in Aparna considering moving her start-up out of the UK entirely.
‘I’ve looked up options in Dubai because it’s so much quicker and it’s tax free. I’m honestly considering moving the business to Dubai because of all of these issues. I want to start doing things.’
When Aparna received her VRN number in mid-October, she was told she could download her VAT certificate, but she was unable to do so online.
She was, thankfully, able to check her account but found that she owed £5,000 in VAT already, despite not currently trading due to delays.
After This Is Money contacted HMRC about the delays, Aparna received a call from HMRC on 16 October, and she was able to finally download her VAT certificate.
She was given a phone number and email to contact someone about the outstanding charge but she still hasn’t heard back about the rogue £5,000.
A spokesman told This Is Money: ‘We apologise that this has taken longer than we would normally expected to process. But we’ve now contacted the customer and helped her to successfully download her VAT certificate.’