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Understanding VAT Exemption

What is VAT Exemption / Relief?

If you suffer from a long-term illness, or you are registered disabled, you do not have to pay VAT on certain goods and services. This includes most healthcare equipment.

In general, the equipment, services and building work covered by the VAT exemption scheme are things that are of practical help to you because of your illness or disability. These include products such as profiling beds, pressure care mattresses, hoists and grab rails.

It is up to you to inform the company you are buying items from or that you should not be charged VAT. This is usually done by filling in a form.

You can only purchase goods and services without VAT if you are chronically sick or disabled and you are buying them for your own personal or domestic use.

Who is eligible for VAT Relief?

For VAT purposes, long-term illness or being disabled means:

  • you have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial 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

Therefore, if you are elderly, but fit, healthy and able-bodied, or you are temporarily disabled or incapacitated, you are not exempt from paying VAT on these products or services.

Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Also, the goods or services must be just for your own use – not for use by anyone else, or for chronically sick or disabled people in general. However, if both you and your partner are chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.