BPIF VAT support service Previously asked questions QUERY


The company has received a job providing binders with two sets of loose-leaf pages. What is the liability?

The contract stipulates that if you are providing a package of printed material, the binders are incidental and the liability is zero-rated.

The company produced a mail shot which was one piece of paper which folded down to form an envelope and was a leaflet most of which could be returned subject to VAT. Did it qualify as a leaflet?

The product does not qualify as a leaflet and therefore is standard rated as more than 25% of it was being returned.

The company had carried out work consisting of printing of a leaflet/flyer and a business card. The customer had told them that all the work should be zero rated, that the leaflets were zero rated even though the weight of the paper was more than 180gsm and that the business cards should be zero rated because they were part of a package the main part of which was zero-rated. Was this correct?

The supply of printed leaflets is zero-rated. The weight of the paper is no longer a factor in deciding the VAT liability. However the business cards will be subject to VAT. The “package” test only applies to a package. Leaflets and business cards do not qualify as a package.

The company printed a 6-page brochure on 110mm x 98mm 200g paper. Customs have ruled it standard rated. Do you agree?

The product should be zero-rated. Response to Customs to be completed on that basis that the liability of the brochure should be based on ‘fact and impression’.

The company had seen in the VAT notes accompanying his

“Unit price” is a countable element. Therefore businesses

BPIF VAT support service Previously asked questions

VAT return that under a change in regulations that came into force on 1 January 2004 businesses were required to show “unit price” on invoices. Does this mean that the company must show price per leaflet for example an invoice?

could show a cost per 100, 1,000 or 10,000 or the actual amount supplied. In addition the unit price is not required on invoices in a business sector where it is not the industry practice to do so unless this is required by the customer.

The company is producing a 24-page report to shareholders with a detachable section for proxy voting. Could it qualify as a booklet and be zero rated?

The product is zero-rated as the detachable section is negligible.

Is a leaflet still zero rated when printed on thick paper?

If the product passes all the characteristics of a leaflet - i.e. there to be read, printed in great quantity, to be thrown away - then the material it is printed on does not decide the liability.

Is printing for free subject to VAT?

Provided nothing is received in return for the printing services (whether monetary or non monetary) then no VAT is due.

If a company were supplying a number of items in a package and they charged a “fulfilment fee” was that liable to VAT?

If the items qualified for zero rating under the package test them the fulfilment fee would also be zero rated.

Could a blank tenancy agreement be zero rated?

It is standard rated as it does not fit the format for a leaflet or brochure.

A company has been asked by a client if they can route design and mail services through them to obtain zero rating on these supplies as a single supply of printed matter.

This is legitimate provided the company has a contract to design, deliver and print the items and it had the contract with designer & mailing house.

The company produced a number of items under a single contract. They consist of 2 leaflets and a letterhead. The customer has asked that each item be invoiced separately.

If the items are invoiced separately then the appropriate liability should be levied, i.e. leaflets zero-rated, letterheads standard rated. However, the customer has apparently

BPIF VAT support service Previously asked questions

The printers have zero rated the leaflet but charged VAT on the letterhead. The customer has said that all should be zero rated as the items contribute a pack. The customer is not a charity.

contacted Customs and obtained a ruling that zero rating applies. It is the supplier’s responsibility to apply the correct liability so the printer needs to be sure that the customer has provided the correct information to Customs. The printer should ask the customer for the Customs call reference number in respect of the enquiry before agreeing the overall zero rating.

The company has supplied appointment cards and shipped them to Guernsey invoiced to a UK company. Should they charge VAT?

Guernsey is outside the UK for VAT purposes therefore this case could be treated as direct export. There is no VAT provided proof of shipment is obtained, despite invoicing a UK company.

The company produced a booklet with the terms and conditions for an insurance company. Was there any reason why it should not be zero rated?

The product has the physical characteristics of a booklet/brochure therefore should be zero rated.

The company had sold an A3 sketchpad to a Swiss business, which had told them that VAT was not applicable. The company was unclear if the pad was delivered to UK address or picked up from their premises what the VAT liability would be.

A sketchpad would normally be standard rated. If proof of export is obtained and goods leave the UK within 3 months the supply can be zero rated. However if goods are sent to a UK address the company needs to obtain evidence that confirms export.

Does the company have to charge VAT on the disposal of a car?

A supply of a second hand motor cars is exempt from VAT, provided no VAT was recovered on initial purchase.

Could the company zero rate a supply of a number of pages of product information, which were going to be put into and

This product can be zero rated as it qualifies for zero rating as a book or similar - it has several pages, a cover stiffer than the

BPIF VAT support service Previously asked questions

supplied with a A4 lever and file/binder?

other pages and will be bound (held together by the file).

Could a leaflet printed as laminated card qualify for zero rating?

There is a functionality test for leaflets. Customs view a leaflet printed on laminated card as standard rated. However when deciding the VAT liability, you should determine what is the purpose of the item. Is it to be read? Is it printed in quantity? Is it to be thrown away? If answer is yes to all of these then you have a zero rated supply of a leaflet.

The company raised queries over the “package test” and the significant item, which can determine the liability.

The ‘package test’ – determining which item(s) are predominant (therefore whether the overall package is standard or zero-rated) - can be based on either count or cost. I.e. the significant item(s) can be the most valuable or the most numerous.

The company has “printed” a brochure but their customer supplied paper and plates. Could they zero rate their service?

Zero rating for the service would apply as they have produced a new zero rated product.

Was there any VAT implication of giving a bond as a long time service reward?

There was no input tax incurred in relation to the purchase of a bond therefore there was no VAT implication.

The company is printing a number of A5 size documents for the Open University to advertise an event. The printing is on one side of the paper only. Can this be zero rated?

This job can be zero rated if it meets the following considerations, 1.

It is designated to be held in the hand and read.


It is being printed in sufficient quantities to be given away.


It will be disposed of after having been read.

BPIF VAT support service Previously asked questions

What is the liability of delivery charges? The company wanted to issue a guideline for their franchises.

A lot depends on the contract/agreement. If the agreement was to deliver the goods then it could be a single supply and follow the liability of the goods. If it is not a single supply it would be standard rated. As a general rule, if delivery is separately invoiced it is safer to charge VAT.

What is the VAT liability of printing Soduku puzzle books?

Customs guidance on this is not clear. Crossword books are zero rated and Customs policy seems to be that books in question and answer format with spaces for the inserting of answers are zero rated, including crosswords books and other puzzle books. This could indicate that a Soduku book should be zero rated. However, Customs also take the view that where the main value of a book lies in the parts to be completed, the book is standard rated. In view of the inconsistency it is recommended that a written rating is obtained from Customs. (Customs later confirmed that Suduku books are zero rated as puzzle books).

What is the liability of a contract to produce and distribute a leaflet as follows: 

Leaflet posted in envelope

Leaflet qualified for zero rating.

The whole supply could be zero rated as a single supply of zero rated leaflets.

What was the liability of whole contract? What is the liability of laminate and unlamented menu cards?

They are both standard rated.

BPIF VAT support service Previously asked questions