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You are perfectly correct to understand this.
HMRC enables / provides for reclaiming VAT dating back to as much as four years prior to incorporation.You can refer this at :http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/register/purchases-before.htm#1
It is also correct that you would pay VAT on any invoices within the first quarter and it would be the difference between this and the VAT claimed that would qualify as a refund.
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