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HMRC internal manual

VAT Books

Books: Processes leading to the production of printed matter: Post-production services

Even when goods are already recognisable as zero-rated books, booklets, leaflets, and so on, some further service may be required - either some act of finishing which is essentially of a cosmetic nature; or an ancillary service which assists in placing the goods in the customers’ hands in a presentable state.

Post-production services may be supplied in two ways.

  • If your trader has supplied zero-rated goods, post-production services may be zero-rated as part of the same supply.
  • If your trader has not supplied zero-rated goods, any supply of post- production services must be standard-rated.

To establish whether your trader has supplied zero-rated printed matter, you will need to consult VBOOKS4400 and the table at VBOOKS4100.

The Tribunal of GUS Catalogue Order & GUS Merchandise Corporation Ltd (MAN/87/532) (VTD 2958) highlights the stage at which an article assumes the basic characteristics essential for zero-rating. Here a book was considered which, although bound, was only covered with a temporary cardboard cover. The Tribunal considered that this article was recognisable as a book and thus allowed zero-rating. The remaining work of permanently covering and trimming was considered to be of a cosmetic nature.