Equipment and vehicles for disabled people might be free of VAT
If you have a long-term illness or you’re disabled, you don’t have to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) on certain goods and services that you buy or bring into the UK. Certain building work that you have done can also be free of VAT.
In general, the equipment, services and building work covered by this scheme are things that are of practical help to you because of your illness or disability.
This guide explains what’s included in the scheme, who qualifies, and what you have to do so your supplier doesn’t have to charge you VAT.
On this page
- Which equipment and services can be bought without paying VAT?
- Who can buy these goods and services without paying VAT?
- How to prove that you qualify when you buy goods and services without paying VAT
- Motor vehicles for disabled people
- Imported goods for disabled people
- Imported goods for the blind
- Contacting HMRC about VAT reliefs for disabled people
Which equipment and services can be bought without paying 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:
- Adjustable beds, chair lifts, hoists and sanitary devices
- Auditory training aids
- Low vision aids
- Medical and surgical appliances designed solely for the relief of a severe abnormality or a severe injury
- Motor vehicles, boats and other equipment and appliances designed solely for use by chronically sick or disabled people
You also won’t have to pay VAT on any charges made for the installation, repair and maintenance of these items, or on any spare parts and accessories needed for them.
Certain building work may also be VAT free. This includes building work on:
- Ramps, doorways and passages
- Bathrooms, washrooms and lavatories
If you need to have any general purpose goods adapted for your use, because of your condition, anything you pay to have them adapted will be VAT free, but you’ll still have to pay the normal rate of VAT on the goods themselves.
Also, if you’re over 60, then you may not have to pay the full standard rate of VAT if you get certain mobility aids installed in your home.
- More about what can be bought without paying VAT by chronically sick and disabled people in VAT Notice 701/7
- Read more about reduced-rate VAT on mobility aids for older people
Who can buy these goods and services without paying VAT?
You’ll only be able to buy goods and services without VAT if you are chronically sick or disabled and you are buying them for your own personal or domestic use.
What counts as a long-term chronic illness or disability?
For VAT purposes, you have a long-term illness or you’re disabled if you meet any of the following conditions:
- You have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantially adverse effect upon your ability to carry out everyday activities
- You have a condition that the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness, such as diabetes
- You are terminally ill
So, you won’t qualify if you are elderly but otherwise able-bodied, or if you’re only temporarily disabled or incapacitated.
You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian or wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you won’t be charged VAT.
What counts as personal or domestic use?
Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Alongside, the goods or services must be just for your own use, and not for use by anyone else, or chronically sick or disabled people in general.
However, if you and your partner are either chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.
How to prove that you qualify when you buy goods and services without paying VAT
So you don’t have to pay VAT when you buy qualifying goods and services. You’ll have to give the seller a written declaration that you are entitled to buy these goods without VAT. This declaration has to give enough information to show that you qualify. If you can’t sign the written declaration yourself, the signature of your parent, guardian, doctor or another responsible person is acceptable on the declaration.
Faxed declarations and declarations made via the internet are also acceptable.
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.