Vat

1. Introduction

1.1 What’s this notice about?

This notice explains:

  • which goods and services for disabled people are zero rated for VAT
  • which goods and services for older people are reduced rated for VAT
  • the declaration your customer should give to you

It’s been rewritten to improve readability.

There are now links to customer helpsheets and separate links to eligibility declarations.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has added information about the reduced rate for certain mobility products.

HMRC has clarified the information about what goods and services are eligible for relief.

This notice and others mentioned are available on GOV.UK.

1.2 Who should read this notice?

You should read this notice if you supply:

  • goods and services to disabled people
  • goods and services to charities which serve the needs of disabled people
  • mobility aids to people 60 or over

1.3 Terminology

VAT law refers to people who are ‘handicapped’ and to certain goods designed for severe ‘abnormality’ and for ‘invalids’. HMRC accepts that these terms aren’t now generally used and can sometimes cause offence. HMRC use them in this notice only where it’s essential to accurately reflect the wording of the law.

1.4 What law covers this notice?

The VAT Act 1994:

  • Section 30 holds that goods and services specified in Schedule 8 to the Act are zero rated
  • Section 29A holds that goods and services specified in Schedule 7A to the Act are reduced rated
  • Schedule 8, Group 12 (as amended by SI 1997/2744, SI 2000/805, 2001/754, 2002/1397 and 2002/2813) specifies the zero-rated goods and services explained in this notice
  • Schedule 7A, Group 10 specifies the reduced-rated goods and services explained in this notice

2. When to zero rate goods and services for disabled people

2.1 When can supplies be zero rated?

Supplies of goods and services are only zero rated when all of the following conditions are met:

  • the customer is eligible to purchase supplies at the zero rate – see Section 3
  • the goods are for the personal or domestic use of the customer – see paragraph 3.4
  • the goods and services are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate – see paragraph 2.4

2.2 Do customers get a refund of VAT from HMRC?

No. Zero rating works by the supplier not charging VAT.

If you charge VAT incorrectly, please make an adjustment to your VAT records and refund the VAT to your customer. Further details of how this is done are in VAT Notice 700/45: how to correct VAT errors and make adjustments or claims.

HMRC can’t make refunds directly to your customers.

2.3 Who decides whether goods or services qualify for zero rating?

You, the supplier, are responsible for making sure that all the conditions for zero rating are met.

You may not know whether the equipment or appliance is designed solely for use by disabled persons and eligible for VAT relief. In such cases, it may help if you get written confirmation of the designer’s intention or the design specification of the product from the manufacturer.

HMRC won’t ordinarily provide binding VAT rulings to a retailer or distributor on the eligibility of specific items for VAT relief. See paragraph 4.5.3.

2.4 Are all goods and services for disabled people zero rated?

No. The information below provides a summary of the goods and services that can be zero rated and where in this notice the details can be found:

3. Customer eligibility

3.1 Who can purchase zero-rated goods and services?

VAT reliefs for disabled people aren’t means-tested. They’re not dependent on the benefits a disabled person may or may not get and a person doesn’t have to be registered disabled in order to qualify. You can only zero rate supplies to:

As a supplier you should take reasonable steps to check that your customer is eligible to receive your goods or services at the zero rate.

3.2 Supplies to handicapped people

You can only zero rate supplies to handicapped people when:

  • the person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’
  • the goods or services are eligible for VAT relief – see Section 4
  • the goods and services are purchased or acquired for their personal or domestic use – see paragraph 3.4

3.2.1 What does ‘chronically sick or disabled’ mean?

A person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’ if he/she is a person with a:

  • physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect upon his/her ability to carry out everyday activities
  • condition which the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness, such as diabetes

It doesn’t include an elderly person who’s not disabled or chronically sick or any person who’s only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.

If a parent, spouse or guardian acts on behalf of a ‘chronically sick or disabled’ person, your supply is treated as being made to that ‘chronically sick or disabled’ person.

HMRC can’t offer any specific advice about whether or not any particular individual customer is chronically sick or disabled. See paragraph 3.6 and paragraph 3.9 for further information about customer eligibility.

3.2.2 Terminology

The term ‘disabled’ is used throughout this notice and means ‘handicapped’ or ‘disabled or chronically sick’.

3.3 Supplies to charities

You can’t zero rate all of the goods and services listed at paragraph 2.4 to all charities. You should, therefore, take extra care in checking that a charity is eligible for VAT relief before zero rating your supply.

Supplies of goods listed at paragraph 2.4 to charities will only qualify for VAT relief where the goods are made available by the charity to a disabled person for their personal or domestic use – see paragraph 3.4.

There are certain other circumstances when supplies of goods listed at paragraph 2.4 will qualify for VAT relief – see VAT Notice 701/1: charities and VAT Notice 701/6: charity funded equipment for medical, veterinary etc uses.

3.3.1 What’s a charity?

Charities are non-profit distributing bodies established to advance education, advance religion, relieve poverty, sickness or infirmity or carry out certain other activities beneficial to the community.

For tax purposes, HMRC accepts that bodies have charitable status when they’re registered with the Charity Commission, or are recognised as a charity by HMRC. Not all non-profit making organisations are charities. Charities claiming VAT relief can demonstrate ‘charitable status’ with their Charity Commission registration number or with HMRC’s letter confirming charitable status. Charities that are not registered with the Charity Commission or don’t have HMRC’s letter should contact us to apply for recognition. Find out how to apply in the charities and tax guidance.

Further information on VAT reliefs available for charities is contained in VAT Notice 701/1: charities.

3.4 What does for ‘domestic or personal use’ mean?

‘Domestic or personal use’ means that the supply is needed specifically for the use of a disabled individual or series of disabled individuals.

The following are excluded from the term ‘domestic or personal use’, and not eligible for VAT relief:

  • goods and services used for business purposes
  • supplies of eligible goods made widely available for a whole group of people to use as they wish, for example, a stair lift installed in a charity building and made available for the general use or convenience of all those chronically sick or disabled persons who might need it, rather than for the personal use of specified individuals
  • goods and services supplied to:
    • an in patient or resident of a hospital or nursing home
    • any person attending the premises of a hospital or nursing home for care or treatment
    • any other person or commercial establishment, with the exception of a charity, where the goods are for use by, or in connection with, care provided to an in patient or resident of a health institution or to a patient whilst attending the premises of a health institution where the items are intended for use in the care or treatment provided in the relevant hospital, nursing home or health institution – for more information see VAT Notice 701/31 Health and Care institutions

3.5 Can anyone pay for the eligible goods and services?

As a general rule, yes.

There are, however, special rules that apply to supplies of certain types of equipment paid for or arranged by the National Health Service (NHS), non-charitable hospitals or certain other non-charitable institutions that provide nursing or residential care. For further information on these rules please see VAT Notice 701/31 Health and care institutions.

3.6 What evidence should I hold to show my customer is eligible?

HMRC doesn’t supply an ‘exemption certificate’ to the customer for this purpose. However, HMRC recommends that you get a written declaration from each customer confirming that the person is entitled to VAT relief. This should contain sufficient information to demonstrate that a customer fulfils all the criteria for eligibility. HMRC can’t say whether a person is chronically sick or disabled.

The declaration should be separate, or clearly distinguishable from, any order form or invoice against which the goods or services are supplied.

A customer signing an order shouldn’t automatically be signing a declaration of eligibility for VAT relief.

There’s a suggested template declaration form that may be copied or otherwise reproduced by you or the customer.

There’s no need to get such a declaration from a disabled customer who’s purchasing eligible goods or services funded by the Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA). This is because only eligible persons are entitled to DSA. Please retain evidence that the goods or services were funded by DSA.

3.7 What if a customer can’t make a written declaration?

It may not always be possible for a disabled person to sign a declaration, for example, if the person is a child or can’t write. In such cases, the signature of a parent, guardian, doctor or another responsible person is acceptable on the declaration.

3.8 Can I accept electronic declarations?

Yes. You can accept electronic declarations received, for example over the internet or by fax. Not all electronic declarations will have the means to incorporate a signature. In these circumstances it’s important that you retain evidence of the origin of the document, such as the email message incorporating the sender’s address.

As with paper declarations electronic ones should be distinguishable from an order form or invoice. Please retain these records for the same period as your general VAT accounts and records, and if held electronically, please check they’re capable of being produced in hard copy.

3.9 Use and misuse of declaration forms

A declaration is only a statement that your customer is entitled to receive zero-rated goods and services and what he will use them for. It doesn’t mean that the goods and services themselves fulfil all the conditions for zero rating.

You can ask for further evidence of eligibility to support your customer’s declaration. If you believe an eligibility declaration to be inaccurate or untrue, please don’t zero rate your supply. You should also take care that procedures, forms and literature don’t encourage or lead customers to make such a declaration. There are penalties for knowingly accepting false declarations and for fraudulent evasion of VAT.

4. Goods eligible for zero rating

4.1 Adapted motor vehicles for disabled wheelchair users

Information on adapted motor vehicles for disabled wheelchair users is available in our Helpsheet VAT1616.

4.2 Medical and surgical appliances

4.2.1 General

A medical or surgical appliance is a device or piece of equipment that’s designed solely for the relief of a severe abnormality or a severe injury.

Examples of severe abnormalities or severe injuries include amputation, rheumatoid or severe osteo-arthritis, severe disfigurement, congenital deformities, organic nervous diseases, learning disabilities and blindness.

4.2.2 Eligible items

Examples of zero-rated appliances include:

  • artificial limbs
  • artificial respirators
  • heart pacemakers
  • invalid wheelchairs and certain invalid carriages, see paragraph 4.10
  • leg braces
  • neck collars
  • oxygen concentrators
  • renal haemodialysis units
  • specialist clothing
  • specialist footwear
  • wigs

4.2.3 Non-eligible items

Examples of goods that aren’t zero rated include:

  • plates or pins for use in repairing broken bones, bandages, plasters or other wound dressings as they’re not designed solely for relief of severe abnormality or severe injury
  • medical or surgical goods that aren’t designed solely for the relief of a severe abnormality or severe injury, particularly those used in cosmetic surgery, such as breast implants
  • dentures – however, these are VAT exempt when they are supplied by dentists, dental auxiliaries or dental chemists – see VAT Notice 701/57: health professionals and pharmaceutical products
  • spectacles and contact lenses

4.2.4 Can I zero rate the supplies of medical or surgical appliances?

You can zero rate the supply of a medical or surgical appliance to a disabled person as described in paragraph 3.1 only if they’re sold without the need for the disabled person to attend a hospital, nursing home or similar institution for their fitting.

This means that you should charge the standard rate of VAT on the supply to a disabled person of any of the goods listed in paragraph 4.2.2 if a disabled person needs to attend a hospital, nursing home or similar institution for their fitting.

4.3 Electrically or mechanically adjustable beds, chair or stair lifts, hoists and lifters, sanitary devices

You can zero rate the supply to an eligible person as explained in paragraph 3.1 of:

  • an electrically or mechanically adjustable bed designed for invalids – a bed won’t be eligible for relief unless it clearly stands out as being something specialised for the use of invalids such as being similar to a hospital bed – as well as being electrically or mechanically adjustable, it should additionally have specific design features which distinguish it from a standard bed such as being fitted with cot sides or being height adjustable – a mattress is only eligible for this relief if it’s supplied as part of a single supply of a qualifying bed, or is designed solely for use by a disabled person, see paragraph 4.5
  • a stair lift or a chair lift designed for use in connection with a wheelchair (it isn’t necessary for the lift to carry the person whilst seated in the wheelchair)
  • a hoist or lifter designed for use by invalids – this includes riser-recliner chairs, sometimes also called lift and tilt chairs, but doesn’t include recliner chairs which don’t have the lift or tilt facility
  • commode stools, commode chairs or devices with a warm air drier and bidet jet incorporated, frames or other devices to help sitting on or rising from a sanitary appliance

4.4 Boats

You can zero rate the supply to an eligible customer as explained in paragraph 3.1 of a boat which is designed or prior to supply or import is substantially and permanently adapted, for use by disabled persons or to carry disabled persons. To qualify for relief, a boat should include all or most of the following features:

  • a ramp for wheelchairs
  • lifts and level non cambered surfaces to accommodate wheelchair movements
  • specialised washing and lavatory facilities accessible to disabled people
  • specially equipped galley and sleeping areas and steering facilities designed for use by disabled people
  • handrails
  • wheelchair clamps
  • steering or other controls adapted for use by disabled people

If the boat doesn’t meet the above conditions, it may still qualify for VAT zero rating under a separate relief see VAT Notice 744C: ships, aircraft and associated services or VAT Notice 701/20: caravans and houseboats.

4.5 Other equipment and appliances ‘designed solely’ for use by a disabled person

4.5.1 General

You can zero rate the supply to an eligible customer as explained in paragraph 3.1 of any other equipment and appliances that have been designed solely for use by disabled people.

Equipment or appliances designed for general use or designed for use by disabled and able-bodied people alike won’t qualify for VAT relief.

However, equipment which has been designed solely for use by disabled people will remain eligible for relief even if it’s available to be purchased by people who don’t have a disability although you can only zero rate supplies which are made to eligible customers as explained in paragraph 3.1.

It isn’t sufficient to qualify for relief that the general or standard equipment or appliance:

  • is sold to or for use by a disabled person
  • may help a person in coping with his or her disability
  • is essential for persons with disabilities

For example, general purpose equipment such as most computer hardware, air conditioning, orthopaedic beds, or reclining chairs may benefit a disabled person, but can’t be zero rated because they’re not designed solely for disabled people.

4.5.2 Meaning of ‘designed solely for use by a disabled person’

This means the original intention of the designer was to produce equipment or an appliance designed solely to meet the needs of persons with one or more disabilities.

The product will only satisfy this condition if its design succeeds in actually meeting the needs of disabled persons.

There are a number of conditions which may, but don’t invariably result in disability – such as:

  • asthma
  • psoriasis
  • dyslexia

Equipment which meets the needs of people with such a condition will only qualify for zero rating if designed solely for the purpose of meeting the needs of disabled sufferers of the condition.

4.5.3 Who determines if the goods are eligible?

It’s only the designer or manufacturer of the goods who’s able to determine whether the goods are designed solely for use by a disabled person. They’ll need to retain evidence which demonstrates the purpose for which they were designed and that the goods in question fulfil the conditions for relief. This evidence may include records from the design period on:

  • the disability needs to be addressed
  • the product specification for meeting those needs
  • results of tests demonstrating that the product meets the design intention
  • patent or patent application

If you’re not the designer or manufacturer and you think that the equipment or appliances you’re selling have been designed solely for use by a disabled person, you should ask the manufacturer whether this is in fact the case. The manufacturer’s advertising literature will sometimes contain a statement that the equipment has been designed solely for use by disabled people.

If the VAT liability of a product is still unclear, the manufacturer should send details as outlined above to the Disabled VAT Reliefs Team for advice on whether the product satisfies the full conditions for relief.

4.5.4 Examples of equipment and appliances qualifying for relief:

  • Braille embossers
  • incontinence products – but see below
  • long handled pick up sticks
  • text telephones
  • whistling cups for blind people
  • white canes for blind people
  • vibrating pillows for deaf or hard of hearing people
  • transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator
  • wheelchairs

Eligible incontinence products, for retail sale to disabled people, are zero rated on the shelf. In practice, this means that individual customers don’t need to provide a written declaration to the retailer confirming they’re eligible for VAT relief.

Supplies of eligible incontinence products over the internet or by mail order also qualify for VAT relief providing they’re made to disabled people.

HMRC will expect retailers, internet and mail order suppliers to have a signed declaration, or other supporting evidence that the supply is to a disabled person for customers who buy more than:

  • 200 disposable pads
  • 50 washable pads
  • 5 collecting devices
  • 10 pairs of waterproof or leak-proof underwear

You’re expected to get a signed declaration or other evidence from your customer confirming that the products are being purchased by a disabled person for his or her personal or domestic use.

Suppliers can also zero rate the supplies of incontinence products made to charitable institutions. However, the relief doesn’t apply to any supplies made to or for the NHS or non-charitable nursing homes and hospitals or other similar institutions.

If you’ve identified your customer as a non-charitable institution all supplies of incontinence products are standard rated regardless of the amount of the order.

4.5.5 Products which don’t qualify for relief

Examples:

The above items are specifically excluded from this relief by law.

4.6 Computer devices and systems

Computer devices and systems are increasingly being used as aids to disability. Most are general use products which may be useful for disabled people but are designed to be used by disabled and non-disabled people alike including laptops, tablets and eReaders. Such products can’t be bought VAT free even if they’re sold with certain applications that may assist disabled people such as voice recognition. This is because the equipment hasn’t been designed solely for use by disabled people. Only those products which have been designed solely for use by a disabled person are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate.

4.7 Auditory training aids for deaf children and equipment to aid the hard of hearing

You can zero rate the supply to an eligible customer as explained in paragraph 3.1 of hearing aids designed for the auditory training of deaf children. These are usually elaborate and expensive audio training systems used by teachers, parents and guardians to give deaf children with little residual hearing at least the possibility of acquiring adequate speech. This equipment consists of an earpiece receiver worn by the child, linked by wire, radio or induction loop to a microphone transmitter worn by the teacher, parent or guardian. This arrangement permits direct communication without distortion or interference from other noise.

Although standard hearing aids are excluded from relief, see paragraph 4.5.5, certain specialist equipment designed for people with severely defective hearing which don’t constitute ‘hearing aid’ as the term is generally used may be zero rated. These include:

  • tinnitus maskers – earpieces which generate a constant noise to mask the effect of ringing in the ears
  • induction loops – public address systems however won’t qualify for VAT relief covered in this notice
  • TV hearing aids – amplifiers and earpieces which may be connected to a TV set, radio or hi-fi to enable a person with hearing loss to hear the sound without turning up the volume
  • bone implant attachments – these are fixed behind the ear of a disabled person to allow sound conjunction through the bone rather than via the middle ear

4.8 Low vision aids

Corrective spectacles and contact lenses aren’t relieved from VAT. However you may zero rate the supply to an eligible customer as defined in paragraph 3.1, of other types of low vision aids. This equipment tends to fall into 2 categories:

  • spectacle mounted low vision aids which are custom made to the prescription of a qualified optician where the prescription identifies the appliance as a low vision aid
  • other low vision aids including technical aids for reading and writing, which are designed exclusively for visually impaired people, for example, closed circuit video magnification equipment capable of magnifying text and images

4.9 Parts and accessories

You can zero rate parts and accessories which you supply to an eligible customer as defined in paragraph 3.1. This is provided that the parts and accessories were designed solely for use in or with goods which themselves qualify for VAT relief as described elsewhere in this section.

‘Parts’ means integral components without which the equipment is incomplete.

‘Accessories’ means optional extras which can be used to improve the operation of the equipment, or enable it to be used, or to be used to better affect, in particular circumstances.

VAT relief doesn’t apply to the separate supply of general use items such as standard batteries, even if these were purchased to be used within an item which is eligible for VAT relief such as a mobility scooter. However, if the batteries were solely designed to operate within the eligible item, they would be eligible for relief such as batteries designed solely to be used with electric wheelchairs or mobility scooters. See paragraph 5.5.

4.10 Mobility scooters

These are invalid carriages, which may or may not be mechanically propelled, and are constructed for the carriage of disabled persons suffering from physical disability.

4.10.1 What are the categories of mobility scooters?

Mobility scooters fall within 3 categories:

  • class 1 – an invalid carriage which isn’t mechanically propelled, to all intents and purposes, a wheelchair, it isn’t constructed or adapted for use on the road
  • class 2 – a mechanically propelled carriage which is so constructed or adapted not to exceed 4 miles per hour (mph), it’s intended for use on the pavement and not for use on the road
  • class 3 – a mechanically propelled carriage which is constructed and adapted for use on the pavement and on the road, it’s capable of exceeding a speed of 4 mph but incapable of exceeding a speed of 8 mph

4.10.2 Does zero rating apply to all classes of mobility scooters?

As classes 1 and 2 mobility scooters aren’t intended or adapted for use on the road, they’re goods of a kind described in paragraph 2.4. You can, therefore zero rate the supplies of classes 1 and 2 mobility scooters when supplied to eligible customers as described in paragraph 3.1.

As class 3 mobility scooters are normally intended or adapted for use on the road, they don’t qualify as invalid carriages for the purpose of VAT relief. However, you can zero rate a class 3 mobility scooter that’s designed solely for use by disabled persons, see paragraph 4.5.

Golf buggies are not eligible for relief.

4.11 Hydrotherapy pools

A hydrotherapy pool which incorporates certain features can be zero rated if it’s supplied to an eligible customer as explained in paragraph 3.1 for their personal use.

4.11.1 What type of hydrotherapy pool is eligible for zero rating?

When determining the liability of a hydrotherapy pool, you’ll need to differentiate between the features the pool incorporates at the time of supply and any subsequent services of adaptation. For example the installation of a fixed hoist provided after the initial supply of the pool will have no bearing on the liability of the hydrotherapy pool itself. The liability will be based upon the bespoke pool supplied and not further adaptations made.

An eligible hydrotherapy pool will be significantly different from a normal pool, hot tub or spa and will typically include all or most of the following features at the time of installation:

  • sited indoors
  • a lip raised to wheelchair height to avoid people falling into the pool
  • easy access to the water for disabled people
  • railings at two different heights
  • shallow rising steps which go up, over and down into the pool
  • an invalid hoist in a fixed position so disabled people in wheelchairs can be lifted safely and easily in and out of the pool
  • deep enough for disabled person to be helped to walk in it but not so deep that therapists were submerged to above shoulder height
  • gradually sloping floor between the shallow and deep ends
  • special non-slip floor tiles to provide better grip and prevent accidents
  • thermally acoustic cladded walls to reduce muscle spasms in disabled people
  • a turn around of water to account for difficulties arising from incontinence
  • a feature to enable the water and atmospheric temperature to be maintained at certain temperatures and humidity
  • an environmental control system to provide the right water and air temperature and water quality

4.11.2 What isn’t eligible for relief as a ‘hydrotherapy pool’?

Swimming and other bathing pools or general spa baths or hot tubs that aren’t designed solely for disabled people don’t qualify for zero rating unless they’re installed as part of eligible building work as explained in paragraph 6.3.

4.12 Letting of goods on hire or lease

You can zero rate a supply on hire or lease to an eligible customer of any goods described as eligible for VAT relief in paragraphs 4.2 – 4.11.

5. Services of installation, repair, maintenance, warranty and adaptation of goods

5.1 Installing goods

You can zero rate services, to an eligible customer as defined in paragraph 3.1 of installing any of the goods described in Section 2 of this notice provided that the goods that are being installed:

  • are themselves eligible for relief (or are parts and accessories of such an item) as explained within this notice
  • aren’t paid for or arranged by the NHS, any other hospital or nursing home

Examples of services of installation which can be zero rated when supplied to an eligible customer include:

  • plumbing in an eligible sanitary appliance
  • wiring up an eligible electrically adjustable bed
  • installing a chair lift

5.2 Repairing and maintaining goods

You may zero rate the supply to an eligible person of your services of repairing or maintaining any of the goods specified in Section 4 of this notice.

5.3 Warranty

Warranty offers protection for an uncertain event and is a means of making up for the loss suffered as a result of an uncertain event.

Customers may often be offered a guarantee or warranty against faults to products. This is normally applied automatically to supplies of goods at no extra cost to the purchaser for a 12-month period so there’s no VAT implication in this case.

5.3.1 Extended warranty

Customers may also be given the option of extending the warranty for a further period of 1 to 5 years in respect of goods supplied to them. The extended warranties cover faults to the products that may develop after the initial warranty period. There’s normally a charge for extended warranties and this may be offered at the point of sale or at a later date.

5.3.2 Is extended warranty a supply of insurance services?

Suppliers should consider what is being supplied, whether or not the guarantee or warranty is written under contracts of insurance. If it’s written under contracts of insurance, the supply is an exempt insurance service and can’t be zero rated under these reliefs. See VAT Notice 701/36: insurance.

5.3.3 Is an extended warranty a supply of repair or maintenance?

A payment for the right to a service that may or may not be needed isn’t a supply of repair or maintenance. The customer is paying in advance to guard against loss that may or may not occur.

However, if there’s a clause which provides for the regular servicing of an eligible product during the period of the extended warranty, then HMRC will consider whether it constitutes a supply of maintenance.

5.4 Adapting goods

You can zero rate the service of adapting any general purpose goods so that those goods suit the condition of a disabled person, provided that the supply is to a:

  • disabled person
  • charity which is making the adapted goods available by sale or otherwise to a disabled person

This relief applies only to the service of adaptation. The goods being adapted won’t qualify for relief. A typical example is the replacement of a manual garage door with a door which has been automated due to a person’s disability. The replacement garage door itself isn’t eligible for relief but any separate service of making the door automated to meet the needs of a person’s disability is eligible for zero rating.

Where you supply the goods yourself and have adapted them prior to the supply, you should apportion the value of the supply between the cost of the un-adapted standard-rated goods and the cost of the zero-rated service of adaptation. You’ll find further information concerning the apportionment of supplies between standard and zero-rated elements in VAT Notice 700: the VAT guide.

Separate rules apply to the sale of substantially and permanently adapted motor vehicles see the VAT Helpsheets VAT1615 and VAT 1616.

5.5 Goods provided in the course of adaptation or repair and maintenance services

Excluding the goods being adapted, you can zero rate any goods that you necessarily supply in the course of a supply of adaptation or repair and maintenance, where these services qualify for VAT relief as explained in paragraph 5.2 and paragraph 5.4 above.

For example, a general purpose battery may be zero rated when supplied as part of a wider service of repair and maintenance of a zero-rated mobility scooter. However, zero rating won’t apply when a general purpose battery is simply supplied to a disabled person. In such circumstances, the main supply isn’t one of repair and maintenance but a supply of a standard-rated product.

6. Building and construction

6.1 General

Certain building work is zero rated in its own right whether or not the buildings include special features that can be used by disabled people, for example the construction of new dwellings. You’ll find further information on general rules relating to the VAT liability of building work in VAT Notice 708: buildings and construction.

If you supply services of construction or building services that would usually be standard rated, this section explains the circumstances in which you may zero rate your supplies.

6.2 Ramps, doorways and passages

You may zero rate the service of constructing a ramp or widening an existing doorway or passage but not the construction of a new doorway or passage, provided the work is done to help a disabled person gain access to, or move about within the building and in the case of a:

  • supply to a disabled person, the building is his or her private residence – a private residence includes the garden, yard, outbuildings, detached garages and even an orchard as well as the home
  • charity, the building may be any building

Construction of a ramp doesn’t include the lowering of a doorway threshold or the construction of a vehicle driveway.

Widening a passage includes the widening of an existing:

  • room through which a disabled person passes to gain access to another room, for example a bedroom which has an en suite facility
  • path across a disabled person’s garden but not the construction of a new path

Widening a doorway doesn’t include replacing a window with a new doorway.

6.3 Bathrooms, washrooms and lavatories

6.3.1 General

You can zero rate the services of providing, extending or adapting a bathroom, washroom or lavatory provided the work is necessary to suit the condition of a disabled person and:

  • in the case of a supply to a disabled person, the building is his or her private residence, a private residence includes outbuildings as well as the home – see paragraph 6.3.2 below
  • in the case of a supply to a charity, the building is:
    • residential accommodation or
    • a day centre where at least one-fifth (20%) of the individuals using the centre are disabled persons

Zero rating applies even if the residential home or the other buildings mentioned aren’t managed or used by the charity to which you make your supply. Note, however, that many residential homes aren’t operated by charities and not all housing associations are charities.

In the case of eligible building work supplied to charitable housing associations, you should be able to demonstrate that the work is being carried out to suit the condition of a disabled individual and arrange for the completion of a declaration in respect of each disabled person. Declarations that cover work for more than one disabled person aren’t acceptable.

6.3.2 Definitions

For the purposes of this relief:

  • bathroom includes a shower or ‘wet’ room
  • washroom means a room containing a lavatory or washbasin (or both) but not containing a bath or shower or cooking, sleeping or laundry facilities
  • lavatory is a room containing a toilet and possibly, but not always a washbasin
  • residential accommodation includes permanent or temporary accommodation in a residential home, self-contained living accommodation or an establishment providing respite care, it doesn’t include an inn, hotel, boarding house or similar establishment or accommodation in any such type of establishment
  • ‘private residence’ means where a person lives, it can’t be a communal residence such as a nursing home or other public building – the disabled person or his or her family will have control over the residence rather than being simply one of a number of unconnected occupants – it doesn’t have to be the sole or permanent residence of the disabled person, for example if a disabled child regularly stays overnight at his or her grandparents’ private residence, zero rating will apply to any qualifying building work there which is necessary to suit his or her condition
  • ‘day centre’ is a centre which provides amenities or supervision for disabled people – a qualifying centre will be a place where disabled people receive day care and not a centre such as an educational establishment or a church which exists to provide facilities for general use, to both able-bodied and disabled persons

6.4 Washrooms and lavatories but not bathrooms

Services to a charity of providing, extending or adapting a washroom or lavatory, but not a bathroom, can be zero rated provided the:

  • service is necessary to facilitate the use of the washroom or lavatory by a disabled person
  • work is carried out in a building, or part of a building used principally by a charity for charitable purposes

6.5 Installation or repair and maintenance of lifts

You may zero rate services you necessarily have to perform in the installation or repair and maintenance of a lift provided that you make the supply to a disabled person or to a charity, and in the case of:

  • a disabled person, the lift you install is designed to help that person move between different floors of their private residence
  • a charity, the lift is installed in a day centre, see paragraph 6.3, or a building in which the charity provides either temporary or permanent residence for disabled people and is installed for the purpose of facilitating the movement of disabled persons between the floors of that building, zero rating, however doesn’t apply to a lift installed in other types of charity building
  • other charity buildings, you may zero rate the supplies of chair or stair lifts and lifts designed solely for use by disabled persons, where the lifts have been installed to meet the needs of specified disabled individuals – see paragraph 4.3 and paragraph 3.4

6.6 Preparatory, restoration work and making good

Where building work described as eligible for VAT relief in paragraph 6.2, paragraph 6.3, paragraph 6.4 and paragraph 6.5 above needs preparation and necessary restoration work, you can also zero rate your supply of these services.

For example, with the widening of an existing doorway for an eligible customer, you can zero rate the removal of bricks and mortar, the supply and fit of a wider door, the installation of a new frame and surround and the restoration of the immediate decor.

Similarly if you’ve provided, extended or adapted a bathroom, washroom or lavatory and supplied this service to an eligible person, you can also zero rate other work essential to providing those facilities such as installation of porcelain goods. This may also include the preparation of footings, including ground levelling, work linked to providing water, gas, electricity and drainage as necessary and the restoration of the immediate decor, including retiling.

6.7 Construction and professional services not covered by this relief

Only building alterations described above qualify for relief under the terms of this notice. Other services you may perform, for example, the installation of central heating boilers, replacement windows or doors or the provision, extension or adaptation of bedrooms, dining, living or utility rooms, offices, kitchens or carer’s rooms aren’t zero rated, even if the work you perform is to suit the needs of a disabled person. However, individual items of equipment which you may supply together with services necessarily performed in the course of installation may qualify for zero rating as explained in Section 2, Section 4 and Section 5 of this notice.

Services of an architect, surveyor or any person acting as a consultant or in a supervisory capacity even when supplied in connection with a supply of qualifying building services are standard rated unless supplied as part of a single ‘design and build’ type arrangement. See VAT Notice 708: buildings and construction for further details.

Subsequent work of repair or maintenance in areas where eligible building work was previously carried out isn’t eligible for relief unless the work involves goods which are eligible for relief in their own right. For example the retiling of a bathroom which was originally provided at zero rate isn’t eligible for relief but the subsequent repair or replacement of an eligible sanitary device, as per paragraph 4.3, is eligible for relief.

Charities may be entitled to VAT zero rating on construction services covered by other provisions. You will find out more about this in VAT Notice 708: buildings and construction.

6.8 Goods supplied in connection with construction services

If you’re VAT registered and you supply goods such as building materials in connection with your supply of the services described in paragraph 6.2, paragraph 6.3, paragraph 6.4 and paragraph 6.5, you may zero rate those goods provided that the construction services in question are properly eligible for zero rating.

6.8.1 What if building materials or other goods used for qualifying building work are purchased by a disabled person or charity?

When the relevant building materials or other goods are purchased by a disabled person or charity themselves for use by their professional building contractor, a builders’ merchant or similar can zero rate their supply of the goods only if they’re satisfied that the actual building work will qualify for zero rating and can demonstrate that subsequently to visiting officers. You may wish to ask your customer to obtain a written ‘statement of works’ from the builder for this purpose.

When the materials are bought by a disabled person or charity in connection with building works which will be performed by a friend, neighbour or family member for free, or in a DIY capacity by the disabled person or charity themselves, the supply of the materials isn’t eligible for the relief. This is because there is no subsequent supply of zero-rated construction services to which these materials can be ‘connected’.

6.9 Grant-funded building work

A disabled person may qualify for a Disabled Facilities Grant towards the cost of providing adaptations and facilities in their private residence to enable them to continue living there. Their local council may pay the grant:

  • direct to the disabled person
  • direct to the contractor

If the grant is paid to you as the contractor, you should make sure that the invoice clearly states that the work was done for the individual disabled person to whom the grant was awarded.

6.10 What if my customer dies before qualifying building work is completed?

If a disabled person dies before the building work is completed, the supply can still be zero rated provided you’re satisfied that the person for whom the qualifying building alterations were being undertaken was an eligible person. You should also be satisfied that the work was required in relation to a building that the person had occupied as their private residence.

7. Emergency alarm call systems

7.1 General

You can zero rate the supply of an emergency alarm call system designed to be capable of operation by a disabled person. A qualifying system will enable that person to call for help in case of illness, injury or similar emergency to either a specified person or a control centre. The supply of a qualifying system will be eligible for zero rating if it’s made to a:

  • disabled person for their domestic or personal use
  • charity for making available to disabled persons by sale or otherwise for their domestic or personal use

Any services performed by a control centre in receiving and responding to calls received from such an alarm system are also zero rated, provided that they’re supplied to an eligible customer as explained above.

You can’t, however, zero rate the supply of ordinary telephones, internal communication systems, intruder alarms which activate bells, lights or sirens, CCTV systems; or the services of installing ordinary telephone lines, regardless of to whom the supply is made.

7.2 What is regarded as a specified person or a control centre?

This is defined in law as a person who or a centre that:

  • is appointed to directly receive calls activated by the alarm system
  • retains information about the disabled person to help them in the event of illness, injury or similar emergency

7.3 Repair and maintenance of eligible alarm systems

VAT relief also applies to any services of repair and maintenance carried out to any items which qualify for VAT relief under paragraph 7.1.

8. Miscellaneous

8.1 Imports into the UK

VAT due on the importation of eligible goods from a place outside the member states of the EU will be relieved under the same conditions as the VAT on supplies made in this country. Eligible customers – see paragraph 3.1, should make a declaration in the form and lodge it, before the import takes place, with the import entry declaration made to Customs at the port, airport or postal depot of importation.

The importation of goods by a supplier doesn’t qualify for relief in this way. VAT is payable by the supplier at importation, and may be claimed as input tax, subject to the normal rules outlined in VAT Notice 700: the VAT guide.

Most imports attract Customs Duty. However in certain circumstances this charge is relieved for disabled people. For details on duty relief for goods for blind and other disabled people – see Notice 371: importing goods for disabled people free of duty and VAT.

8.2 Acquisitions from other member states of the EU

As explained in VAT Notice 725: the single market, a VAT-registered person needs to account for acquisition tax on certain supplies of goods acquired from another EU member state. A VAT-registered charity which is eligible to buy certain goods at the zero rate as explained elsewhere in this notice, can account for tax at the zero rate on its acquisition of such goods.

Persons who aren’t VAT registered don’t have this facility. If they buy goods in another member state, they may need to pay tax on those goods in that member state at the prevailing rate. This tax can’t be refunded in the UK. Each member state has its own rules about the extent of VAT relief on goods for disabled persons and the reliefs set out in this notice won’t apply to supplies made in other EU member states.

Where goods are sent by a supplier in another member state to someone in the UK who isn’t VAT registered, special ‘distance selling’ rules apply and the VAT treatment will vary according to the circumstances.

For further information see VAT Notice 725: the single market.

8.3 Exports and removals of goods from the UK

You can supply goods or services to disabled people from other countries under the conditions set out in this notice.

If you supply goods which don’t qualify for this VAT relief, you may still be able to zero rate the supply, subject to certain conditions under the Retail Export Scheme see VAT Notice 704: VAT retail exports. This scheme applies to retailers who are exporting the goods to a place outside the EU. VAT’s due on all other retail sales of standard-rated goods which don’t qualify for relief under this notice or as a retail export.

For exports of any goods as freight, see VAT Notice 703: export of goods from the UK.

8.4 Other useful information

You can find out about disability benefits and other help available for disabled people from:

  • the Benefit Enquiry Line on Telephone: 0800 88 22 00 or the GOV.UK website
  • DIAL Network, an organisation which provides disability information and advice by accessing their website
  • Scope, an organisation who offer support to disabled people, on Telephone: 0808 800 33 33 or through their website
  • Disability Rights UK, an organisation which is led by and for disabled people, see their website

9. Reduced rate VAT on mobility aids for older people

Certain mobility aids installed in the home of a person aged 60 or over are subject to reduced rate VAT.

9.1 Who’s covered?

The reduced rate of VAT applies to your customer if they’re aged 60 or over and have a qualifying mobility aid supplied and installed in their own home, or a home shared with friends and relations.

They don’t have to order and pay for the supply and installation personally, it can be ordered and paid for by someone else, or a charity, a local authority, housing association or any other organisation. However, they can’t benefit from the reduced rate if they’re having the work done in a residential home or similar establishment – it has to be in a private home.

Eligible customers will be aged 60 or over at the time when the supply and installation takes place. The reduced rate doesn’t apply if you’re simply supplying an eligible item – you have to both supply and install it to apply the reduction.

9.2 What goods can be supplied and installed at the reduced rate of VAT?

You’ll apply a reduced rate of VAT on the supply and installation of these items:

  • grab rails
  • ramps
  • stair lifts
  • bath lifts
  • built-in shower seats or showers containing built-in shower seats
  • walk-in baths with sealable doors

Repairs of those goods once they’ve been installed aren’t eligible for relief and the above mobility aids can only be reduced rated if they’re supplied by the installer.

The reduced rate doesn’t apply to general adaptations carried out in the home of a person over 60, such as widening passageways or building extensions.

9.3 How can my customer get the reduced rate?

Your customer will need to show that they do qualify. See paragraph 3.6 for more information about declarations. Your customer should give you a written declaration like the one below. This declaration should be separate from any invoice, order or other paperwork.

Declaration: Mobility aids for older people

I ……………………………………………………. (full name)

of ………………………………………………………………………………………. (the address where the installation is taking place)

declare that I am 60 or over and that this supply and installation qualifies for the reduced rate of VAT in accordance with the Value Added Tax (Reduced Rate) Order 2007.

Signature …………………………………………………….

Date ……………………………

If your customer can’t physically complete and sign the declaration, then a declaration by a relative, partner or other responsible person is acceptable.

Your rights and obligations

Your Charter explains what you can expect from HMRC and what they can expect from you.

Do you have any comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, please contact HMRC.

If you have a general VAT query then please contact the VAT Helpline.

Putting things right

If you’re unhappy with HMRC’s service, please contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They’ll try to put things right. If you’re still unhappy, they’ll tell you how to complain.

You can find information on making a complaint in our guidance, Complain to HM Revenue and Customs.

How we use your information

HMRC is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. They hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.

HMRC may get information about you from others, or they may give information to them. If they do, it will only be as the law permits to:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds

HMRC may check information they receive about you with what’s already in their records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. HMRC won’t give information to anyone outside HMRC unless the law permits us to do so. For more information go to the Data Protection Act.

Specialists in prescribing mobility aids.

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