Value-added tax (VAT) is an indirect tax on the consumption of goods and services in South Africa. As a VAT-registered business, you are required to charge VAT on taxable supplies and can claim input tax credits. To prove your VAT registration status to clients or vendors, you need a VAT certificate.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) provides an online platform called eFiling to register for VAT, file returns, and access tax information. You can download the VAT certificate directly from eFiling. This blog post provides a step-by-step guide on how to get VAT certificate on eFiling in South Africa if you are a VAT-registered business.
Before applying for a VAT certificate on eFiling, you must:
- Have a SARS eFiling profile with access credentials
- Be a registered VAT vendor with an active VAT registration status
- Have no outstanding VAT returns or payments
If you meet these requirements, you can proceed to download the VAT certificate.
Follow these simple steps to get a VAT certificate on eFiling:
1. Login to SARS eFiling
- Go to the SARS eFiling website (https://www.sarsefiling.co.za)
- Enter your username and password to log in
2. Go to Registration details
- From the menu, click on ‘Registers’
- Select ‘VAT Registration’
3. Open VAT certificate
- On the VAT Registration screen, go to the ‘Information Certificates’ section
- Click on ‘VAT Certificate’ next to the tax period drop-down menu
4. Download VAT certificate
- The VAT registration certificate will open in a new tab/window
- Right-click and choose ‘Save as’ to download the PDF file to your computer
And that’s it! You now have a VAT certificate to provide clients and vendors whenever required.
Key Details on the VAT Certificate
The VAT certificate contains important details about your VAT registration including:
- Trading name and registration number
- VAT vendor status – active or non-active
- Current tax period
- VAT registration date
- Standard, simplified, or no tax period applies
So remember to download the updated VAT certificate from eFiling for every tax year or if there is any change in your VAT details.
Use Cases for VAT Certificate
Here are some common scenarios where you may need to provide the VAT certificate:
1. New Suppliers
When onboarding new suppliers, share an updated copy of your VAT certificate so they can verify your VAT registration details before transactions.
2. Proof of VAT Registration
Provide the VAT certificate to new clients so they can claim input VAT. Government departments may also request it before awarding tenders.
3. VAT Refund Claims
To claim VAT refunds at ports or airports when moving goods between South Africa and other countries, carry the VAT certificate as proof.
4. General Administration
Keep the VAT certificate handy for administrative purposes like opening a bank account, or applying for finance or office space.
VAT Certificate Validity and Updates
The VAT certificate downloaded from eFiling is valid for a limited period, usually the current tax year. You need to download an updated certificate for every tax period to reflect changes (if any) to your VAT details.
Check the ‘Valid until’ date printed on the certificate. If it is nearing expiration, follow the same steps to access an updated copy:
- Login to eFiling
- Go to VAT Registration details
- Download VAT certificate
Even if there are no changes to your VAT registration, download the certificate at the beginning of every tax year for validity. Provide vendors and clients with a copy with the latest ‘Valid until’ date printed.
Troubleshooting VAT Certificate Issues
You may encounter some common issues when trying to download or use the VAT certificate from eFiling. Here is how to troubleshoot them:
Problem No 1
Problem: The VAT certificate shows your details as non-registered
Reason: Your VAT status may have changed to non-active if returns were not filed continuously
Solution: Fix any outstanding VAT returns to restore active status before the certificate can reflect updated details
Problem No 2
Problem: Certificate download does not trigger
Reason: Pop-up blocker restricting new window
Solution: Disable the pop-up blocker in your browser and try again
Problem No 3
Problem: VAT number mismatch on certificate
Reason: Details outdated from previous registration
Solution: Update your personal and business details by contacting SARS
As always you can contact the SARS VAT Support desk or your tax advisor in case any other concerns arise when dealing with VAT registration and compliance. Stay informed, act on time, and use the eFiling system to your advantage for smooth VAT processes!
Estimate Your VAT Liability
As a VAT-registered business, you need to charge the standard 15% VAT rate on all taxable goods and services supplied to clients and customers. This adds up to a VAT liability that must be paid over to SARS periodically.
How much VAT do you collect and how much are your dues to SARS every year?
Use our VAT Calculator to estimate your annual and monthly VAT liability.
Benefits of the VAT Calculator
- Estimate your total VAT liability more accurately
- Plan provisional tax payments on time
- Avoid penalties caused by underpayment
- Determine the impact of price changes on your VAT dues
The calculator makes VAT calculations and projections easier based on past income/expense trends. Stay on top of your VAT obligations as a vendor with the handy resources on eFiling and SARS on our website.
Do I have to pay for the VAT certificate?
No, downloading the VAT certificate from eFiling is free.
How frequently should I renew the VAT certificate?
Download an updated certificate at the start of every tax year for continued validity or as soon as you note changes in your VAT details.
Can I save the downloaded certificate as a JPEG instead of a PDF?
It’s best to save the certificate file as an uneditable PDF file to prevent tampering. JPEG format risks quality loss if scanned or printed several times.
If my VAT status is non-active, will I still get a certificate?
No, the VAT certificate is made available to download only if you have an ‘Active’ VAT status as per SARS records at the time.
Does each business need a separate VAT certificate?
Yes, in case you run multiple businesses registered separately for VAT. The certificate is unique evidence of the VAT details for each entity.
Can I use the same certificate for multiple years?
No, with periodic changes in the ‘Valid until’ dates and tax details, it’s mandatory to access an updated certificate from eFiling yearly.
Downloading the VAT certificate directly from eFiling makes life easier for VAT-registered businesses in South Africa. With just a few clicks, you can access an updated VAT certificate anytime to share with stakeholders. This prevents invalid VAT claims and ensures smooth operations. So stay compliant and access your VAT certificate on eFiling regularly!