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If you have a long-term illness or you're disabled, you might not have to pay VAT on certain goods and services that you buy or bring into the UK. Certain building work that you have done may also be free of VAT.
Not all goods and services supplied to chronically sick or disabled people are eligible for VAT relief. In general, the items covered by the VAT relief are things that are of practical help to you because of your illness or disability.
This guide explains how the VAT relief works, who qualifies for the VAT relief, what types of goods and services you can buy without paying VAT and what you have to do so your supplier doesn’t charge you VAT.
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If the goods or services you buy qualify for the VAT relief, your supplier will give you a sales invoice showing VAT at 0 per cent. This means that you won’t be charged VAT. (It’s not a case of you having to pay the VAT and then claiming it back from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
You will be able to buy goods and services that are eligible for VAT relief if -
For the purposes of the VAT relief, you are chronically sick or disabled if:
You won't qualify if you are only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as suffering from a broken leg or other temporary injury. Neither will you qualify if you are elderly but are otherwise able-bodied and don’t suffer from any chronic condition. If you are over 60 you may only have to pay the reduced rate of VAT (currently 5 per cent) if you have certain mobility aids installed in your home. There is a paragraph within this guide on mobility aids for older people.
Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes.
Also they must be just for your own use - not for use by anyone else, or any other chronically sick or disabled people in general.
However, if you and your partner are both chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won't have to pay VAT.
If you have a long-term illness or you're disabled, you won't have to pay VAT when you buy any of the following items for your own personal or domestic use:
Also, if you are a wheelchair user, you won’t have to pay VAT on motor vehicles for your own personal or domestic use that are designed or substantially and permanently adapted to enable you to enter and drive, or enter and be carried in the vehicle
You also won't have to pay VAT on any charges made for the installation, repair and maintenance for some of the above items or spare parts and accessories for use in or with the items.
Certain building work to a disabled person’s private residence may also be VAT free. This is limited to:
If you need to have any general purpose goods adapted to suit your condition, anything you pay to have them adapted will be VAT free, but you will still have to pay the normal rate of VAT on the goods themselves.
Only disabled people and people suffering from a chronic illness are entitled to the zero-rating on the items outlined in this paragraph. If you don’t have a disability or chronic illness and are aged over 60 you may be entitled to the reduced rate of VAT (currently 5 per cent) on certain mobility aids installed in your home. See the paragraph below on mobility aids for older people.
You'll have to give the seller a written declaration stating that you are chronically sick or disabled and are entitled to buy qualifying goods and services VAT free. This declaration has to give enough information to show that you qualify. Normally, the supplier will provide you with the declaration for you to fill in and sign. They also have to fill part of it in, and then keep it with their records. If you are unable to sign the written declaration yourself, the signature of your parent, guardian, doctor or another responsible person is acceptable. Faxed declarations and declarations made via the internet are also acceptable.
If you provide a satisfactory declaration the seller will then be able to sell you the goods or services without charging you VAT.
You can import certain goods into the UK without paying VAT or duty, as long as they're for your own domestic or personal use.
Goods designed solely for the use of disabled people that you import for your own use are zero-rated anyway but, in addition, you may not have to pay VAT if you import the following:
You also won't have to pay VAT if you import spare parts, components, tools and accessories specifically or recognisably intended for such goods.
If the goods need adapting to make them suitable for use by disabled people, you can't get any relief on importing the unadapted goods. You'll have to get them adapted before you bring them into the EU.
See a list of examples of goods for the blind that qualify for import VAT relief at the end of this guide.
If you're bringing the goods in yourself, in your accompanied baggage, you don't need any prior approval. Simply declare them in the Red Channel or Red Point when you arrive. You may be asked to fill in and sign a declaration.
If you're bringing them in by any other means, you have to obtain authorisation first. Write to the National Imports Reliefs Unit (NIRU) at the address below and they'll send you a form to fill in.
HM Revenue & Customs
National Import Reliefs Unit
Killyhevlin Industrial Estate
Tel: 028 6632 2298
Fax: 028 6632 4018
After you send the form back to HMRC, you'll be sent an NIRU certificate and a copy of the certificate. Hand the certificate to customs when you import the goods, and keep the copy for your own records.
If the goods are being sent to you by post, ask the sender to write clearly on the package and its accompanying customs declaration:
'GOODS FOR DISABLED PEOPLE: RELIEF CLAIMED'
HMRC may send you a form to fill in and complete, together with a declaration. If the package isn't properly marked you may have to pay duty and VAT. If that happens, write to customs at the postal depot where the charges were raised, enclosing your original NIRU certificate, the VAT declaration and the document showing the charges. Explain what happened and if they're satisfied that you don't need to pay duty and VAT on the goods, you will receive a repayment.
If the goods are imported as freight you must claim relief by completing an import declaration on a Single Administrative Document (SAD, form C88). You can get an import agent to do this, but if you want to complete the SAD yourself and need more information on the details required for the import declaration, please refer to the Tariff.
Enter one of the following Customs Procedure Codes (CPCs) in box 37 of the SAD:
Present your copy of the NIRU certificate and if you're applying for a VAT zero rating, an eligibility declaration.
If you're still waiting for your NIRU certificate, you'll have to provide financial security for the duty and VAT before HMRC will release the goods. As soon as you receive the original NIRU certificate, send it to HMRC at the port or airport where the import declaration was made. Quote the declaration number and date. HMRC will discharge the security if they are satisfied you qualify for relief.
The Customs Union includes all EU countries plus Andorra, San Marino and Turkey.
Normally you should claim relief at the time of import. HMRC may accept a belated claim subject to certain conditions.
These are examples of goods for the blind or partially sighted that you could import without paying VAT, if you meet the other conditions:
Any person who is over 60 can buy the following items at the reduced rate of VAT (currently 5 per cent) when they are supplied and installed in their own home or a home shared with friends and relatives:
The reduced rate doesn’t apply if you just buy the goods. The reduced rate applies only if you are having these goods supplied and installed.
For more help about VAT reliefs for disabled people you can contact HMRC by email, phone or post.