There is still a huge amount of uncertainty as to what, if anything, will happen on 29 March 2019. As of today, a delay is looking likely but until this (or a deal) is confirmed businesses still need to be prepared for us exiting without a deal.
Many UK businesses will incur VAT in the EU in the course of their business, for example, attending events in the EU or traveling to visit clients, contacts or colleagues. As this VAT cannot be claimed on the UK VAT return, businesses will seek to claim this VAT through the EU VAT refund scheme. Normally a claim for VAT incurred in 2018 would not need to be submitted until 30 September 2019, however in the event we leave the EU without a deal on 29 March 2019, the deadline for filing EU refunds claims is 5pm on exit day. Although technically we do not leave the EU until 11pm, HMRC need time to ensure the claims are sent to the applicable countries before we actually leave the EU.
If the deadline is missed, a claim will need to be submitted through the process for non-EU businesses which has a deadline of 31 December 2019. However, the claim year for non-EU businesses is 1 July to 30 June, so there is a risk that VAT incurred 1 January 2018 to 30 June 2018 may be lost. It is therefore recommended that a claim is submitted using the EU business route prior to 5pm on 29 March 2019.
If you need any assistance with this, please contact our VAT partner, Alison Birch.