VAT manuals for HMRC staff

Find VAT technical guidance.

These manuals contain technical guidance for HMRC staff and tax professionals and are also published in accordance with the HMRC Publication scheme.

You should not assume that the guidance is comprehensive or that it will provide a definitive answer in every case. HMRC will use their own reasoning, based on their training and experience, when applying the guidance to the facts of particular cases.

The guidance in these manuals follows the law as it stood at publication. HMRC will publish amended or supplementary guidance if there is a change in the law or in the department’s interpretation of it. HMRC may give earlier notice of such changes through a Revenue and Customs Brief or press release.

Subject to these qualifications you can assume the guidance usually applies, but where HMRC considers that there is, or may have been, avoidance of tax the guidance will not necessarily apply.

Find out when you can rely on information or advice provided by HMRC.

A to Z of VAT manuals

M N O P Q R S T U V W X to Z



Agricultural flat rate scheme
The agricultural flat rate scheme including roles and responsibilities, laws and regulations and operation of the scheme.

Annual accounting scheme
The annual accounting scheme, including details of the automated system and local procedures.

Assessments and error correction
Assessments and error correction, including help with their issue, amendment and withdrawal.


Bad debt relief
Bad debt relief which allows a business to claim back VAT on unpaid customer payments.

Betting and gaming
Determining the liability of supplies relating to betting and gaming including gaming machines, bingo and lotteries under the VAT Act 1994, Schedule 9, Group 4.


Burial and cremation
Deciding the VAT liability of supplies made by undertakers and funeral directors.

Business and non-business
The meaning of business for VAT purposes and how it applies in the operation of the tax.

Business income manual
How to check tax calculations or work out the trading profits of a business for Self Assessment tax return.


Cash accounting scheme
Cash accounting, an optional scheme of accounting for VAT, intended to ease the burdens on small businesses.


Civil evasion penalty
How HMRC treats VAT evasion and the law around it.

Civil penalties
Civil penalty and interest measures available or likely to be encountered.

Determining the liability of supplies of clothing and footwear as written in Group 16, Schedule 8, VATA 1994.

Additional information on the treatment of buildings and construction as far as the zero and reduced rates of VAT are concerned.

Cost sharing exemption

Cultural services
Determining the liability of the right of admission to qualifying cultural activities.


Default interest manual
Dealing with VAT default interest.

Default surcharge officer’s guide
Support for officers dealing with VAT default surcharge.

How to determine whether someone must, or may voluntarily, deregister for VAT.


Resolving questions of VAT liability in the education sector.

Energy-saving materials and grant-funded heating supplies
VAT reduced rate on energy-saving materials and grant-funded heating and security supplies.

Excise civil evasion penalties guidance
The principles of the civil penalty regime provided for by Section 9 and 11 of the Finance Act 1994.

Export of goods from the UK
The VAT treatment of goods supplied for export and removal from the UK.


The background to determine whether a supply is treated for VAT purposes as a supply of financial services, and whether that supply then falls to be exempt or taxable.

Flat rate scheme
The VAT flat rate scheme (FRS) for small businesses, which was introduced in Budget 2002.

Determining the liability of supplies of food allowed by Group 1, Schedule 8, VATA 1994.

How to spot and tackle various types of VAT fraud.

Fuel and power
The VAT treatment of supplies of fuel and power.

Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme
The policy and procedure for handling applications under the Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme.


The exemption for investment gold, the special accounting scheme or reverse charge procedure.

Government and public bodies
VAT as it applies to local authorities and other government and public bodies.

Information on VAT group treatment, allowing two or more corporate bodies to account for VAT under a single registration number with one of the corporate bodies in the group acting as the representative member.


VAT exemptions which are available for supplies of healthcare by health professionals and health institutions under Group 7, Schedule 9 to the VAT Act 1994.


Input tax
Information and guidance to work out if input tax can be claimed.

Identifying the appropriate parts of the EC Sixth Directive, now the Principal VAT Directive and UK VAT Law.

Isle of Man
How VAT applies to the Isle of Man (IOM) and how this affects the control of UK businesses with establishments in the IOM and IOM businesses with establishments in the UK.


Joint and several liability
Guidance on when and how to apply the VAT joint and several liability measure.


No manuals.


Land and property
Deciding whether a supply of land or property has been made, and in deciding the liability of a supply of land or property.


Margin schemes
The law as it applies to time of supply and to changes in VAT rate and liability.


New means of transport
The UK procedures for controlling the new means of transport arrangements up until 31 December 2020.

New means of transport Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland procedures for controlling the new means of transport arrangements from 1 January 2021.


No manuals.


Partial exemption guidance
Partial exemption and the capital goods scheme.

Payments on account scheme
The payments on account scheme which came into force on 2 September 1993.

Personal exports: retail exports
How to claim a refund of VAT paid on goods purchased in the UK, provided all the conditions of the scheme are met.

Personal exports: tax free sales of new motor vehicles for use before export
Personal exports - assurance procedures for the supply of tax-free vehicles under the personal export scheme.

Place of supply: goods
The place of supply of goods and its impact on the scope of VAT.

Place of supply: services
The place of supply of services and its impact on the scope of VAT.

Place of supply: transport
The place of supply of transport and its impact on the scope of VAT.

Postal services
Background to the exemption for postal services supplied by Royal Mail.

Protective equipment
Determining the liability of supplies of protective boots, helmets, motorcycle and pedal cycle helmets, child car seats.


No manuals.


Guidance on the handling of claims made by traders to correct errors that they’ve made in the conduct of their VAT affairs, which may lead to a refund of VAT.

Refunds to overseas business persons
The intentions of the EC eighth and thirteenth VAT Directives and setting out how they are to be implemented.

How to determine whether someone must, or may voluntarily, register for VAT - the entity to be registered and changes to the details held on the VAT register.

Relief for disabled people
Procedural guidance on VAT relief for disabled people.

Repayment Supplement
Technical, policy and procedural guidance to HMRC staff, about circumstances when HMRC might become liable to pay a repayment supplement to a business.

Retail schemes
Retail schemes which remove the need for the retailer to identify the VAT liability of every transaction, by providing an alternative method of calculating output tax liability.

Reverse charge
The reverse charge procedure which is a measure designed to counter criminal attacks on the UK VAT.


Sailaway boat scheme
The VAT treatment of private pleasure craft supplied to private individuals to be sailed away outside the EU.

Single market
The rules that apply to intra-EC supplies and acquisitions of goods within the Single Market together with HMRC interpretation of those rules.

UK law pertaining to sporting activities is contained within Group 10, Schedule 9 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994.

Single entity and disaggregation
Determine whether 2 (or more) apparently separate businesses are, in reality, a single entity and whether they have been separated artificially.

Statutory interest manual
Technical and procedural advice for staff in HMRC who may have to deal with VAT statutory interest claims.

Supplies in warehouse and fiscal warehousing
The supplies of goods within a warehousing regime.

Supply and consideration
Determining the liability of the supply of goods or services effected for a consideration.


Taxable person
How to determine who is making a supply and whether the supplier is a taxable person.

Time of supply
The law as it applies to time of supply and to changes in VAT rate and liability.

Traders’ records
The basic record keeping and accounting requirements that a trader is expected to comply with.

Trade unions and professional bodies
The treatment of trade unions and professional bodies under EC VAT law.

Transfer of a going concern
The basic principles covering the transfer of a business as a going concern.

Zero rating for ships, aircraft and passenger and freight transportation.


No manuals.




Water and sewerage services
The VAT liability of water supplies, sewerage services, hot water, steam and other related supplies.

Information on the VAT treatment of welfare issues.

Women’s sanitary products
The reduced rate for women’s sanitary products.


No manuals.


Youth clubs
Definitions relating to the provision of facilities and supplies by Youth Clubs and their exemption from VAT.


No manuals.

Published 1 January 2007
Last updated 17 November 2022 + show all updates
  1. The Fulfilment House Due Diligence Scheme manual has been added.

  2. The Northern Ireland procedures for controlling new means of transport arrangements from 1 January 2021 have been added to the collection.

  3. The small and medium enterprises assurance manual has been removed.

  4. VAT default surcharge officer's guide added to the collection.

  5. First published.