If the previous business was VAT registered it can pass its VAT number on to the new company under the transfer of going concern rules (TOGC). However, this is not always advisable as the VAT number will carry with it all the ‘history’ of the old business, including defaults for late payment and error records. If the owners of the new company are not exactly the same people as those who owned the old business, the new owners may not want to take on the VAT ‘sins’ of the old business.
In this case the new company will have to apply for a new VAT number. This is the same procedure as a new VAT registration, and penalties will apply if it is not done on time.
If you want the new company to adopt the VAT number of the unincorporated business you must inform the Tax Office of the change in structure of the business within 30 days. If this deadline is not met the Taxman will impose a ‘failure to notify’ penalty which could be up to 100% of the VAT due, even where all the VAT due has been paid on time.