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HMRC internal manual

VAT Clothing

How to decide if the article is clothing: Babywear

Many items used by babies serve both to clothe the baby and for some other purpose, e.g. as a cot or pram cover, or a sleeping bag. The baby clothing paragraph in Notice714 covers in some detail which items of baby wear we accept as clothing, and which we regard as accessories.

There are two Tribunals on the subject of baby wear:

In Mothercare Ltd (LON/76/177)a piece of baby equipment known as the two-legged ‘Cosy Toes’ was ruled not to be clothing. The ‘Cosy Toes’, intended to keep a child warm while sitting in a push chair, superficially resembled a kind of romping suit, but could not be worn usefully out of the push chair. Despite its appearance, it was therefore considered to fulfil the function of a blanket or sleeping bag rather than clothing.

In Little Rock Ltd (LON/77/121) a baby carrier was also ruled not to be clothing, as its real purpose was to attach the infant to its mother in a convenient manner.

Both Tribunals reinforce the fact that the function of the article is the main factor which determines whether or not an article is clothing.