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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

Car benefit: emergency vehicles exemption from 2004/05: conditions 1-3

Section 248A ITEPA 2003

This section was introduced in Finance Act 2004 and has effect from 2004/05. The intention is not to provide free benefits but to improve emergency response times.

There is no charge to tax for the private use of an emergency vehicle where all the following conditions are met:

  • on this page: all of conditions 1, 2 and 3,


  • on EIM23605, either both parts of condition 4 or both parts of condition 5.

Condition 1: the person

The person must be “employed in an emergency service”. This means,

  • constables and other persons employed for police purposes,
  • persons employed for the purposes of a fire, or fire and rescue, service, and
  • persons employed in the provision of ambulance or paramedic services.

Note that “fire and rescue” services is a composite term which cannot be separated into “fire services” and “rescue services”. It follows that vehicle breakdown services and the like are excluded.

Condition 2: the emergency vehicle

For the purposes of this exemption, an emergency vehicle

  • is a vehicle which is used to respond to emergencies, and
  • either: has fixed to it a lamp designed to emit a flashing light for use in emergencies (“fixed” indicates that the light must be a permanent fitting to vehicle. It need not be permanently fixed to the exterior of the vehicle, but a vehicle with only a light which can be removed from the vehicle is not an ‘emergency vehicle’ for the purposes of this exemption)
  • or: would have such a lamp fixed to it but for the fact that a special threat to the personal physical security of those using it would arise by reason of it being apparent that they were employed in an emergency service(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000) .

Note that the type of emergency vehicle is not defined, so it could (in its non-emergency vehicle form) be a car or a van.

Condition 3: the terms on which the emergency vehicle is made available

The emergency vehicle must be made available on terms which prohibit its private use otherwise than when the person is on call or engaged in on call commuting.

If no private use at all is permitted and there is none, there is no charge to tax (EIM23400).

Further condition

The terms ‘on call’ and ‘on call commuting’ are used in conditions 4 and 5 at EIM23605.

Both parts of one of those conditions must also be fulfilled for the exemption to be effective.

Application to vans

This guidance applies equally to van benefit