Do you qualify for VAT-free goods?

You’ll only be able to have eligible goods VAT-free if you’re chronically sick or disabled and the goods are for your personal or domestic use. You do not need to be registered disabled or eligible for any other benefit to qualify for VAT-free goods.

What HMRC means by ‘chronically sick or disabled’

For VAT purposes, you’re chronically sick or disabled if you have:

  • a physical or mental impairment which has a long term and substantial adverse effect on your ability to carry out everyday activities
  • a condition that the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness (that’s a long term health condition)

For VAT purposes, the term ‘chronically sick or disabled’ does not include a person who’s only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, for example with a broken limb or someone who’s elderly but is not chronically sick or disabled.

Eligible conditions include:

Arthritis

Blindness

Cardiovascular Disease

Deafness

Diabetes

Epilepsy

Heart Disease

Hypertension

Kidney Disease

Motor Neuron Disease

Multiple Sclerosis

Parkinson’s Disease

Physically disabled

Terminally ill

COPD commonly known as Coronary Obstructive Pulmonary Disease resulting in Coronary Thrombosis (a blockage of the flow of blood to the heart, caused by a blood clot in a coronary artery),

Epilepsy (Epilepsy is a group of neurological disorders characterized by epileptic seizures),

Myocardial Infarction (commonly known as a heart attack, occurs when blood flow decreases or stops to a part of the heart, causing damage to the heart muscle),

Panic Attack (A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath or smothering) which can be deadly at times,

Diabetes (Diabetes is associated with high blood pressure, an excess of sugar and the inability to heal properly, become incoherent, becoming anxious, fatigue and weak, and also lead to shock),

Visually challenged, Motor Neuron Disease, Arthritis, Chronic kidney disease (also called chronic kidney failure, describes the gradual loss of kidney function).

Multiple Sclerosis (A demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged), Parkinson’s (A neurodegenerative disorder, which leads to progressive deterioration of motor function due to loss of dopamine-producing brain cells),

Terminal Diseases (an incurable disease that cannot be adequately treated and is reasonably expected to result in the death of the patient).

Goods you can buy VAT-free

This section has information on the goods you can buy VAT-free because of your disability including:

  • medical and surgical appliances
  • invalid wheelchairs and mobility scooters
  • equipment to aid the hard of hearing and low vision aids
  • specialist beds, chair and stair lifts, rise and recline chairs and other lifting equipment and sanitary devices
  • goods that have been designed solely for disabled people
  • computer equipment
  • emergency alarm call systems
  • boats

parts and accessories

Medical and surgical appliances

You’ll not have to pay VAT when you buy medical or surgical appliances that are designed solely for the relief of a severe abnormality or severe injury such as amputation, rheumatoid arthritis, learning difficulties or blindness.

Appliances that can be bought VAT-free include:

  • invalid wheelchairs
  • certain types of mobility scooters
  • leg braces
  • neck collars
  • oxygen concentrators
  • specialist clothing
  • specialist footwear
  • wigs

Items that you cannot buy VAT-free include bandages, plasters or other wound dressings and dentures (unless you buy them from a dentist or other dental care professional).

Goods that have been designed solely for disabled people

You’ll not have to pay VAT on any goods that have been designed by the manufacturer solely for use by disabled people. Eligible goods include:

  • white canes or whistling cups for blind people
  • vibrating pillows for deaf or hard of hearing people
  • invalid wheelchairs
  • TENS machines
  • Braille embossers

incontinence products

What HMRC means by ‘designed solely for disabled people

This means that the original intention of the product’s designer was to produce an appliance or equipment solely to meet the needs of people with one or more disability.

You cannot buy goods that are designed for use by disabled and non-disabled people alike VAT-free. Goods that are bought to be used by or that are mainly bought by disabled people cannot be bought without VAT unless they’re designed solely for use by disabled people. For example, general purpose equipment such as a laptop, an air conditioning device, a reclining chair or an orthopedic bed might benefit a disabled person but cannot be bought VAT-free because they’re not designed solely for use by a disabled person.

Emergency alarm call systems

You’ll not have to pay VAT if you buy an emergency alarm call system that’s designed to be operated by a disabled person and enables you to call for help to a specified person or call center in case of illness or injury.

Telephones, intruder alarms or CCTV systems are not VAT-free.

You do not need HMRC’s permission to declare that you’re disabled or chronically sick and our advisers cannot tell you whether or not you’re disabled or chronically sick. If you’re not sure whether your condition means you’re chronically sick or disabled you may wish to consult your doctor or other medical adviser.