When you have been through the MTD onboarding wizard successfully, we will automatically fetch your obligation periods from HMRC. 

MTD onboarding for SMEs

MTD onboarding for Partners

Obligation periods are the Tax periods that HMRC want you to submit, they appear on the TAX > VAT > VAT Return menu. 

The obligation period has an MTD tag and shows the date range for the period:


If you click on the Preview button beside this obligation period you can begin creating your VAT return.

How to create and submit an MTD VAT return

Only obligation periods with the MTD tag can be submitted to HMRC for MTD VAT. You cannot create a custom report and submit this to HMRC.

If you do not see the obligation periods after completing the onboarding wizard, you may see an error message or no error message at all. Below are some of the known issues and help on how to resolve:

No error message, but no obligation periods

If you do not see any of the error messages displayed below, however, you have authorised Clear Books as the software for MTD VAT submissions in step 5 of our onboarding wizard, please contact HMRC ASAP as they will be able to help resolve this issue. 

We have attempted to fetch your obligations from HMRC, however, they do not have any data to send to us. In some cases the contact details may be incorrect in the Tax Services account, HMRC will be able to advise further.

MTD for VAT: Pending 

If you have signed up to MTD VAT, the migration on HMRC's end can take up to 72 hours, you will receive email confirmation when this process is complete. Only once this confirmation email is received will the pending message be lifted.

If you are an agent, you must authorise Clear Books as the software for MTD VAT submissions, in step 5 of our MTD onboarding wizard, with your new Agent services account credentials. Authorising on one client account authorises all your clients who have the representation 'My tax agent submits my VAT returns.' If you use an individual clients credentials at this step, all your clients will try to submit VAT using these credentials which will be rejected by HMRC. Contact support if you have made a mistake.

Do you have multiple Agent Services Accounts for different divisions/branches of your practice? Please contact support and let us know.

MTD for VAT: Error communicating with HMRC

The request to HMRC has timed out, so we couldn't fetch your obligation periods. This is usually a temporary error, please refresh the page to try again.

MTD for VAT: Unknown error

Please make sure your VAT number is correct on the Settings > Organisation > Details & Tax > Tax menu and that you have signed up for MTD and received email confirmation from HMRC that this is complete.

The HMRC service may be down for maintenance, you can check the status on their website linked below.

Making Tax Digital for VAT: service availability and issues

In all other cases, there is an error on HMRC's side. We are not receiving any further information from them which can help us identify what this error is. We advise speaking to HMRC to find out more information. If you are an agent, we recommend contacting the HMRC dedicated Agent support, the details are linked below. 

Agent Dedicated Line: self assessment or PAYE for individuals

MTD for VAT: Invalid authorisation

The existing authorisation has expired or has been revoked. The authorisation of Clear Books as the software for MTD VAT submissions only lasts for 18 months, as per HMRC directive, therefore a new authorisation is required, please contact Clear Books support.


Technical support is available from Monday to Friday, 9 - 5.

Contact Clear Books Support

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