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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Items benefiting from the relief: what is food?: food packaging: tins, caddies, crocks, jars and bottles

Biscuit tins

Following the Simmers case (VFOOD2860), a biscuit tin is regarded as a separate supply from the biscuits which it contains only when there are clear positive indications that it is sold as a container with an intended future use. Examples of such an indication are:

  • advertising matter or wrappings which describe the tin as intended for future use as a container; or
  • a lid containing desiccant crystals.

In the absence of any such positive intention of future use as a container, a biscuit tin is acceptable as normal packaging.

Tea caddies/ tins

Whilst most tea is sold in paper, cellophane and cardboard packaging, the more upmarket manufacturers have traditionally sold it in decorated tins, usually with their name prominently printed on the side. Such tins are accepted as normal and necessary packaging in this type of market, and are zero-rated with the tea when sold as a complete package. Containers for tea are seen as a separate standard-rated supply where they are:

  • made of porcelain; or
  • clearly held out as a tea caddy to be kept for future use.

Paté containers

Plain ceramic containers for paté, in which it is prepared and sold, are accepted as normal and necessary packaging. Ceramic containers in ornate decorative shapes such as those of animals are regarded as separate standard-rated supplies.

Jars and bottles

Fancy jars and bottles, even if ornate, are accepted as normal packaging unless there is a clear indication that they are intended to be kept for a future use. Kilner jars, which are heavy duty jars with wired lids used for preserving fruit and vegetables, are considered to be more than normal packaging, and are standard-rated.