VAT returns are normally quarterly for UK companies. Filings are made for all revenue including any cost plus entries and all payments including those items that don’t carry VAT. The net amount of VAT is either refunded by or paid to HMRC within a month of the filing.
Careful consideration is required for physical shipments into the UK from outside of the EU. Import duties are paid at the port of entry into the EU. If you are not VAT registered in the port of entry you will not be able to reclaim those duties, if you are VAT registered in the port of entry then you can reclaim import duties as part of your VAT return. Commonly this question arises for demo equipment or for customer trials, further consideration should be given in these situations as to who is the importer of record, often it is better for a distributor/reseller to be the official importer of record which would make the liabilities to import duties theirs.
There are differences in VAT treatment depending on the goods/services you offer and the countries your business sells to.