Guidance

Protective equipment (VAT Notice 701/23)

This notice explains when protective equipment is zero-rated and children's car seats and travel systems are reduced-rated at 5% VAT.

Detail

This notice cancels and replaces the July 2011 edition of Notice 701/23. It applies to supplies made on or after the UK’s departure from the European Union.

Details of any changes to the previous versions can be found in paragraph 1.3.

1. Overview

1.1 Information in this notice

This notice explains when:

  • protective boots and helmets for industrial use are zero-rated – see section 2
  • motorcycle helmets are zero-rated – see section 3
  • pedal cycle helmets are zero-rated – see section 4
  • children’s car seats and travel systems are reduced-rated at a rate of 5% VAT – see section 5

1.1.1 Other reduced rate or zero-rated protective equipment

Certain protective clothing, headgear and footwear for young children may be zero-rated as young children’s clothing and footwear. Further information is in Notice 714: zero rating young children’s clothing and footwear.

1.2 Users for this notice

Use this notice if you’re a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer or importer of products listed in paragraph 1.1.

1.3 Changes to this notice

This notice has been updated as follows:

  • sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 to reflect the updating of manufacturing standards
  • section 5.4 to advise the necessity to check the single or multiple supply guidance in order to determine the VAT liability of a children’s car seat supplied in conjunction with the supply of a car

1.4 Laws that affect this notice

The VAT Act 1994, section 30 holds that goods and services specified in Schedule 8 to the Act are zero-rated. Schedule 8, Group 16 (as amended by SI 2000/1517, SI 2001/732 and paragraph 94 (8) of schedule 8 of the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Act 2018) specifies when protective boots and helmets are zero-rated.

The VAT Act 1994, section 29A (as inserted by the Finance Act 2001) holds that goods and services specified in Schedule 7A to the Act are reduced-rated. Schedule 7A, Group 5 specifies when children’s car seats are reduced-rated.

2. Protective boots and helmets for industrial use

2.1 Protective boots and helmets that qualify for zero rating

They are zero-rated when all the following conditions are met:

Condition Description Further information
1 The articles must be boots or helmets paragraph 2.2
2 They must be manufactured to satisfy the requirements of regulation 8(2) of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 paragraphs 2.3 to 2.5
3 They must bear a mark indicating conformity with regulation (8)(2) of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 paragraphs 2.3 to 2.5
4 They must be for industrial use paragraph 2.4
5 They must not be supplied to persons for use by their employees paragraph 2.5

Paragraph 2.6 explains when accessories are zero-rated.

2.2 Difference between a shoe and a boot

The zero rate applies specifically to protective boots and therefore protective shoes are not eligible for zero-rating, even if they meet the remaining requirements.

2.3 Regulatory standards for protective boots and helmets

The protective boots and helmets must be manufactured to the standards which satisfy the requirements of regulation 8(2) of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002.

2.4 Meaning of ‘industrial use’

This has its ordinary and everyday meaning. Boots and helmets that meet all the other conditions for zero rating but are not for industrial use, such as motorcycle boots, are standard-rated.

2.5 Work out who is being supplied

You cannot zero rate supplies of protective boots or helmets to an employer for the use by their employees. Supplies from a manufacturer to a wholesaler who in turn supplies them to a retailer can be zero-rated subject to the conditions set out earlier in this notice. Supplies from an employer to an employee can also be zero-rated, subject to the conditions set out earlier in this notice.

Before you zero rate any supply you should by asking yourself does the
establish your customer is not an employer purchasing boots or helmets for use by employees customer’s trading style suggest that the customer is an employer

quantity ordered suggest a bulk purchase by an employer for the use of employees

nature of the contract indicates a trade order - such as a number of pairs of boots paid for by one customer for delivery to individuals

2.6 Zero-rated accessories

If you fit accessories such as visors or ear protectors as an integral part of a qualifying helmet, you can zero rate the supply of the complete helmet. But accessories supplied on their own are standard-rated.

3. Motorcycle helmets

3.1 Zero-rated motorcycle helmets

To qualify for the zero rate motorcycle helmets must be manufactured to the standards which satisfy the requirements of regulation 8(2) of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and bear the mark of conformity required by that regulation.

3.2 Zero-rated pedal cycles helmets

If you fit accessories such as visors, ear protectors or communication systems as an integral part of a qualifying helmet, you can zero rate the supply of the complete helmet. But accessories supplied on their own are standard-rated.

4. Pedal cycle helmets

4.1 Zero-rated pedal cycle helmets

To qualify for the zero rate cycle helmets must be manufactured to the standards which satisfy the requirements of regulation 8(2) of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and bear the mark of conformity required by that regulation.

4.2 Zero-rated accessories

If you fit accessories such as visors or ear protectors as an integral part of a qualifying helmet, you can zero rate the supply of the complete helmet. But accessories supplied on their own are standard-rated.

5 Children’s car seats and travel systems

5.1 Reduced rate children’s car seats

The following products are ‘children’s car seats’ and are reduced-rated at a rate of 5% VAT.

Safety seats

A safety seat is a seat designed to be sat in by a child in a road vehicle so that, when in use in a road vehicle, it can be restrained:

Booster seats

A booster seat is a seat designed to be sat in by a child in a road vehicle, and so that, when in use in a road vehicle, it and a child sitting in it can be restrained by a seat belt fitted in the vehicle.

Booster cushions

A booster cushion is a cushion designed to be sat on by a child in a road vehicle, and so that a child seated on it can be restrained by a seat belt fitted in the vehicle.

Car seat bases

A base unit which is designed solely for the purpose of attaching a safety seat securely in a road vehicle by means of anchorages that form part of the base unit and which, when in use in a road vehicle, can be restrained in one or more of the following ways:

  • by a seat belt fitted in the vehicle
  • by permanent anchorage points in the vehicle
  • by belts attached to permanent anchorage points in the vehicle

The reduced rate applies to both ISOFIX (International Standards Organisation Fix) and non-ISOFIX bases.

5.2 Reduced-rated carrycots with restraint straps

The reduced rate also applies to protective travel systems such as ‘lie-flat’ car seat products which allow babies to safely lie-flat whilst travelling in a car and are secured using a 3 point safety harness. These products can also be used with compatible pushchairs to form a pram system.

5.3 Reduced rate children’s travel systems

They are zero-rated when both of the following conditions are met:

Type of travel system VAT liability
A pram or pushchair and a safety seat that can be fitted together and both of the elements can be used independently of each other. The safety seat is reduced-rated
The pram pushchair element is standard-rated
A safety seat, a bare wheeled framework and a pushchair or pram seat When the supply consists of just the safety seat and the wheeled framework the whole supply is reduced-rated
The safety seat can be attached to the wheeled framework and it can be used as a pram
Alternatively, the pram seat can be attached to the framework for use as a pram
When all 3 elements are supplied together, the pram seat is standard-rated and the other 2 elements are reduced-rated
The framework is only of use when one of the other 2 elements is attached When the supply consists of just the pram seat and the wheeled framework the whole supply is standard-rated
Any combination of the 3 elements may be supplied together When supplied separately, the safety seat is reduced-rated, the wheeled framework is standard-rated and the pram seat is standard-rated

5.4 Treatment of vehicles with a fitted children’s car seat

If you supply a vehicle with a children’s car seat, or with one as an ‘optional extra’, you must consider your supply in light of VATSC 11100 Single or Multiple supply.

If your supply meets the criteria to be treated as multiple supplies the charge for the supply of the children’s car seat will qualify for reduced rate VAT.

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Published 4 July 2011
Last updated 31 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. This page has been updated because the Brexit transition period has ended.

  2. First published.