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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

HM Revenue & Customs
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Items benefiting from the relief: live animals: general

VFOOD3600 deals with the zero rating of live animals. Under Schedule 8, Group 1, Item 4 to the VAT Act 1994, live animals of a kind generally used as, or yielding or producing, food for human consumption are zero-rated. This follows the general intention to zero-rate food for human consumption. Live animals which are not widely used or bred in the UK for food fall outside the relief, and are subject to VAT at the standard rate.

The zero-rating of live animals is limited to animals reared or used as food in the UK. It does not cover animals which are used as food outside the UK, unless they have become widely available or are being reared primarily for food within the United Kingdom, as is the case now with ostriches.

Animals which are not generally used as food in the United Kingdom, such as horses, ornamental birds and fish, are standard-rated. All meat used as food for human consumption or as animal feeding stuff is zero-rated irrespective of whether the animal was standard-rated when alive. Thus horse meat is zero-rated even though a live horse is standard-rated.

It is important to remember that only certain animal species, and then often only certain breeds within those species, are used as food. As far as the zero-rating of live animals is concerned, our interest is limited to those species and breeds which are generally used as or yielding food for human consumption in the United Kingdom. The aim of Item 4 is to relieve from VAT supplies (sale, hire, loan or supply of part interest) of all live animals which are commonly used for food in the United Kingdom, and to exclude from zero-rating animals which are not generally reared for food.