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VAT identification numbers

Sometimes also known as a VAT registration number, this is the unique number that identifies a taxable person (business) or non-taxable legal entity that is registered for VAT.

Who needs a VAT number?

Most businesses (and other persons carrying out an economic activity ) need a VAT number (see Article 214 VAT Directive for full details).

In particular, business is obliged to register for VAT in the following cases:

  • when it carries out the supply of goods or services taxed with VAT;
  • when it makes an intra-EU acquisition of goods;
  • when it receives services for which it is liable to pay VAT (under Article 196 VAT Directive );
  • when it supplies services for which the customer is liable to pay VAT (under Article 196 VAT Directive ).

Does the same VAT number apply for all EU countries?

Every EU country issues its own national VAT number.

This means that business supplying goods or services in several EU countries might be liable to get a VAT number in each of these countries.

A simplified registration (mini One Stop Shop) is available for businesses supplying telecommunications, broadcasting and electronic services.

Format of VAT numbers

Every VAT identification number must begin with the code of the country concerned and followed by a block of digits or characters.

Who issues a VAT number

The EU Commission has been made aware that companies in different Member States have been receiving proposals offering to obtain a valid VAT number against an advance payment. These proposals have the appearance of an official EU document.

The EU Commission reminds that only tax administrations have the right to issue a VAT number. If you are suspicious of unsolicited messages concerning obtaining a VAT number you are advised to check with the tax administration concerned.

The importance of VAT numbers

  • Used to identify tax status of the customer
  • Help to identify the place of taxation
  • Mentioned on invoices (except simplified invoices in certain EU countries)

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Recruitment and selection

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Firms recruit, select and train staff in different ways with varying degrees of success.

Without the right staff with the right skills, a business cannot make enough products to satisfy customer requirements. This is why organisations draw up workforce plans to identify their future staffing requirements. For example, they may develop plans to recruit a new IT Manager when the current one plans to retire in eight months time. Other reasons for requiring new staff are that employees may be promoted and have to be replaced, other workers move to another job, or some may decide to quit.

Recruitment is the process by which a business seeks to hire the right person for a vacancy.

Before advertising the job, a job analysis is conducted to see if the position has to be filled at all. A job analysis identifies the roles and duties undertaken in the position. Sometimes elements of the job may be shared by existing staff. If the job does need to be filled, then the next stage takes place.

The firm writes a job description and person specification for the post and then advertises the vacancy in an appropriate place.

  • Job descriptions explain the work to be done and typically set out the job title, location of work and main tasks of the employee.
  • Person specifications list individual qualities of the person required, eg qualifications, experience and skills. These elements are arranged into 2 categories: essential and desirable. From this a view of the ideal candidate will be formed.

Firms can recruit from inside or outside the organisation.

  • Internal recruitment involves appointing existing staff. A known person is recruited.
  • External recruitment involves hiring staff from outside the organisation. They will bring fresh ideas with them but they are unknown to the company – will they fit in?

There are advantages and disadvantages to appointing internally or externally. With internal candidates their abilities are known to the firm, they know the culture and would need less training, as well as being the cheap option.

Internal promotion also is good for overall staff morale, but if you promote from within you then need to fill another vacancy.

Also with internal candidates the pool of candidates is severely limited; however externals can bring in new ideas and experience. External recruitment is expensive as job adverts cost money!


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What Is A PhD?

Brief definition

In the UK, a PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy , sometimes referred to as a doctorate . It is the highest level of degree that a student can achieve. At some institutions, including Oxford University, a Doctor of Philosophy is known as a DPhil. It is distinct from professional doctorates such as an Engineering Doctorate (EngD).

PhD Entry requirements

An undergraduate degree is a minimum requirement and many will also require a master s degree (such as an MA, MSc or MRes). Some funded PhD s will be on a 1+3 basis, which is one year of a master s plus three years of PhD funding.

How to apply for a PhD

Prospective PhD students are usually expected to submit a research proposal to the department they wish to undertake their study in. Some departments will encourage students to discuss their ideas with an academic working in that field first. The proposal will outline what they intend their research to investigate, how it relates to other research in their field and what methods they intend to use to carry out their research. Some PhD s however, particularly in the sciences, are advertised as studentships where the research aims are more prescriptive.

How long is the course?

A PhD usually lasts three years (four for a New Route PhD see below), or rather, any available funding usually lasts for that time. Students may be able to take extra time in order to complete their thesis but this will usually be at their own expense. For part-time, self-funded students, a PhD can take up to seven years.

What s involved

A PhD usually culminates in a dissertation of around 80,000-100,000 words, based on research carried out over the course of their study. The research must be original and aim to create new knowledge or theories in their specialist area, or build on existing knowledge or theories. Many departments initially accept students on an MPhil basis and then upgrade them to PhD status after the first year or two, subject to satisfactory progress. Students who are not considered to be doing work appropriate for PhD level can instead submit a shorter thesis and gain an MPhil.

There is little taught element in a PhD students are expected to work independently, supported by their department and a supervisor. There may be seminars to attend and/or lab work to complete, depending on the subject. During their study, students will try and get academic papers published and present their work at conferences, which will allow them to get feedback on their ideas for their dissertation.

New Route PhD

Introduced in 2001, the New Route PhD is a four-year programme that combines taught elements, including professional and transferable skills, with the student s research. There are now hundreds of NRPhD students studying a variety of subjects at a consortium of universities across the UK. Check www.newroutephd.ac.uk for further information and a list of participating universities.

Career prospects for PhD Students

PhD graduates who go on to work in academia usually start off by undertaking postdoctoral research and then a fellowship or lectureship. Other career options will depend on what the PhD was in commercial research is an option for some, and many are able to use their specialist knowledge and research skills in areas of business and finance.

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