How do I use DataDear's free Making Tax Digital (MTD) free service?

Learn how to use the DataDear’s free service to file your VAT Return with HMRC in the UK using Excel.

This article covers the following:


DataDear are Excel integration specialists, connecting Excel spreadsheets to either HMRC, Xero or QuickBooks Online for both reporting and posting data providing the mandatory digital link.

Making Tax Digital is the latest compliance change affecting small businesses, currently who have a taxable turnover above £85,000 and are VAT registered. VAT returns starting with a period after 1st April 2019 are required to be submitted to HMRC through a new digital portal, replacing the old government gateway and ability to manually enter your VAT figures.

The information being supplied to HMRC is unchanged, it is simply the methodology we use to transfer this data across. DataDear have been working closely with HMRC throughout the development and have produced our Excel Add-in which has been reviewed and approved by HMRC for UK Making Tax Digital (MTD) filings.

It is important that you are meeting the digital record keeping requirements, being that you capture digitally details of; Supplies made, and Supplies received. The following information needs to be captured; Date of Supply, Customer/Supplier, Net amount, VAT rate. Along with the date of payment if you are on a cash basis. Microsoft Excel is a great tool for capturing this data.

This user guide covers all of the steps required to ensure you remain compliant whilst providing as little impact and downtime to your business and operations. This will help you; Check DataDear is the right tool for your business, Register for MTD with HMRC, Authorise DataDear to file with HMRC, How to digitally link your VAT data for filing, Filing your VAT return with HMRC, Retrieving your previous returns, liabilities and payments and how to manage multiple VAT numbers or if you’re an agent/accountant.

IT & Security

The DataDear Excel add-in can be installed on the following environments (32 and 64 bit):

Operating System

  • Windows 10
  • Windows 8 (including 8.1)
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista

Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft however DataDear should still work on the supported Excel versions if these are installed on Windows XP.

Supported Excel Versions

  • Office 365
  • Office 2019
  • Office 2016
  • Office 2013

Note: Office 2010 and Office 2007 are not supported.

You need to be connected to a reliable internet connection to be able to retrieve your liabilities from HMRC, and to file your VAT return. We recommend minimum speeds of 4 mbps download and 2 mbps upload. To test your connection, please visit

A connection using proxy is supported.

Installing DataDear Excel Add-in

  1. Log in to (or Create) your DataDear account for free at

  2. You can find detailed step-by-step instructions on how to install DataDear by following this link.

  3. Once DataDear has been installed, open Ms Excel and click on the DataDear tab and login with your account to start using the Excel add-in.

Authorising DataDear Excel Add-in with HMRC

You will need to authorise your DataDear Excel Add-in with HMRC once every 18 months.

You can find detailed step-by-step instructions on how to link with HMRC by following this link.

Download Template and Link your existing VAT data

  1. In order to file your VAT, you must use the HMRC Direct – UK VAT Return template. To download simply navigate to the Templates Library either through the DataDear Excel Add-in, or via our web dashboard. And download the HMRC Direct Making Tax Digital template shown below;

  2. Once downloaded, as best practice we recommend moving your existing workbook, or software outputs containing your VAT data into this template as additional sheets, to do so have both our HMRC Direct template open, along with your existing workbook. Whilst in your workbook, select all relevant sheets (holding control and left click), then right click, hit ‘move or copy’, select our HMRC Direct template, tick the create a copy, and confirm with ok. Process shown below
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  3. Now you have your VAT data contained within our workbook, you need to digitally link the data to our front sheet for VAT filing. Care should be taken whilst doing so as it is against HMRC’s policy to copy and paste at this stage. We have built our solution with guards in place to stop you using incorrectly and to ensure long term compliance whilst using our software. To link your data for VAT submission, navigate to each box, enter the equals sign (=) followed by confirming the cell that contains the relevant data for that box. Do this for all the relevant 7 boxes as per your return.

Filing your VAT return with HMRC

  1. When the time comes to file your next VAT return, please ensure you have digitally linked your VAT data using the previous steps.

  2. You’ll then need to ensure you have your HMRC connection selected within the DataDear toolbar, under the select an organisation filter, as shown below.

  3. Your VAT Registration Number (VRN) and Obligations will be automatically loaded into the workbook, otherwise use the Refresh > Current Sheet as shown below.

  4. Your VAT Period to be submitted will now have your next filing dates automatically retrieved from HMRC.

  5. Finally, please drop the declaration within box 10 to Yes to confirm that your return is finalised. Then use the Post Online within the DataDear toolbar, and confirm your VAT data within the next screen by using OK, this will then file your VAT return directly to HMRC, if you do notice inaccuracies, simply hit cancel, rectify and start again. process shown below.
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  6. DataDear will now file your return directly to HMRC under their new MTDfVAT API’s, you will automatically receive confirmation of your return within an additional sheet along with an accompanying DataDear results screen confirming your filing status as shown below.
    image :arrow_right::arrow_right: image

Retrieve your previous returns, liabilities and payments

As part of the newly formed VAT API, you can now retrieve your information directly through the DataDear Excel Add-in. This will only surface information that has been entered under the new filing regime, so unfortunately you won’t be able to access your previous returns, payments and liabilities from PRE Making Tax Digital.

You can find detailed step-by-step instructions on how to retrieve previous returns, liabilities and payments by following this link.

Multiple VAT Numbers & Agents

The DataDear MTD filer has been built with Agents and multiple filing in mind. You can find detailed step-by-step instructions on how to link with HMRC for agents by following this link.

Unfortunately, HMRC’s new Agent Services Account does not surface a client list. Therefore, as best practice once you have authorised the DataDear connection for each of your clients, we recommend using our Edit feature within the DataDear web dashboard. Here you can also assign a client code, and location too if relevant for your practice. To make this as easy as possible for you, after each connection is added we automatically send you to your organisations/client list.


The Friendly Name that you enter here, will be what is shown within your Select an Organisation list within the DataDear toolbar. Making it easy for you to identify the right client that you are working on.

Training & Support

  1. We understand that change can be unnerving, even more so when it comes to compliance issues affecting your business. That’s why we have built our solution to be as easy to use as possible, replicating the existing system as much as we can, whilst providing this user guide, online support and further training available complimentary to all DataDear users.

  2. To access our free training, and get yourself MTD certified with DataDear please visit and enrol in our HMRC VAT Making Tax Digital training course. This is a self-paced video course running through the whole process start to finish.

  3. On top of this, all users receive online support with a dedicated HMRC channel on the community forum. We are very proud of the community we’re building here! Trust us when we say you are not alone, millions of businesses are facing the impacts of digitisation and here you can ask our team, DataDear Experts, and all DataDear users any questions you may have on how best to use the product, or whether it can solve a specific requirement for you. You can access the Community Forum directly from the Excel toolbar.