The best time for HMRC VAT webchat in Feb 2021?

Aaron Asaro
08 Feb 2021

11 minute read

Do you find that if you miss that magic morning gap it's impossible to get hold of a VAT advisor on HMRC webchat?

No, it's not sods law, you just need to pick the right moment. Head over to HMRC webchat at the right time of day and you can cut your waiting time by over 60%!

It might surprise you to know that 4 - 5pm has the shortest waiting time. But, if you need to find another slot that works with your schedule have a look at what we found below.

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Table of contents #

  1. Why use HMRC VAT webchat?
  2. How we found the best time of day for VAT webchat
  3. What is the best time of day for VAT webchat?
  4. Why is HMRC webchat so busy?
  5. Do you want easier access to HMRC webchat advisors for VAT?

Why use HMRC VAT webchat? #

If you've read our previous post on waiting times for self assessment webchat our thoughts here will not be new. We've found that HMRC webchat advisors are as good as those on the phone, but there is the added benefit of a downloadable conversation. Although the advisors are great, the webchat system itself doesn't make things easy.

1. No multitasking while waiting
Once you land on the webpage you need to pay attention to it until the "speak to an advisor" link appears. That's a tall order during a busy day.

2. Being told to try again... and again..
So, you've spent more minutes than you'd care to consider waiting for the "speak to an advisor" link. At long last it appears, you click it, fill in the form... and get told to try again. Argh!

Since you're here, you might know that the Webchat Autopilot plugin can help, and if you want that pitch head down here. If you're already a plugin user (at the time of writing we have 15 🎉) you know that it can't tell you how long you need to wait for the link. So we did a bit of digging, wrote some code and figured it out... roughly.

How did we find the best time of day for VAT webchat? #

The method to this is almost identical to the approach we used in determining the waiting times for self assessment webchat. The only differences were that we were loading up the webchat for VAT, and when a link appeared we waited 10 seconds before we reloaded the page.

  1. We loaded the HMRC VAT webchat page.
  2. When the "speak to an advisor" link appeared we noted the time, and after a 10 second wait we refreshed the page.
  3. We repeated this measurement until HMRC webchat closed.

What is the best time of day for VAT webchat? #

The plot below shows how long[1] you can expect to wait depending on when you try to get hold of an advisor. Even though the longest time is under 30 minutes, it does feel quite a bit longer! That said, you can shave almost 20 precious minutes off your wait-time if you head over for the 4 - 5pm lull.

How long will I wait to speak to someone on HMRC webchat for VAT?

If you've got a flexible calendar but 4 - 5pm doesn't work for you the plot below will be useful. You'll be able to see the times that are best yourself. The ones that stand out outside of 4 - 5pm are 2 - 3pm which is also pretty good. Just before lunch (11 - 12pm) is a terrible idea.

What is the best time to use HMRC webchat for VAT?

Notes on the data #

  • We ran this test on Monday, 25 January 2021.
  • Sometimes links appeared quite quickly. For the purposes of this investigation it wasn't terribly useful; you can't count on luck after all. That's why we're only plotting the longest time it will take for a given slot.

Why is HMRC webchat so busy? #

Brexit #

VAT rules are in flux. There is huge upheaval in plenty of sectors[2] and there's no doubt that HMRC advice lines are bearing the brunt of the uncertainty.

Covid-19 #

We're in the midst of a second wave of the virus in the UK. That could affect how many HMRC webchat advisors are at work.

Do you want easier access to HMRC webchat advisors for VAT? #

If you've done the work of combing through this post you're someone that wants to optimise their workday. One way to do that is to use HMRC webchat between 4pm and 5pm. A better way is to install our free browser plugin for HMRC VAT webchat. It can do all sorts of fancy things, like:

  • Automatically click the link when it appears.
  • Automatically fill in the form for you instantly.
  • Automatically notify you when you're in the queue.

We believe that access to tailored HMRC information should be fast and simple, for everyone. With Webchat Autopilot for HMRC webchat, it is.


  1. If you're planning your day it's more useful to know the longest you might wait if you get unlucky. ↩︎

  2. There are plenty of examples - here's one story describing how Brexit is affecting EU-based Etsy sellers. ↩︎