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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Excepted items: beverages: water and ice


The liability of water in most circumstances, for instance when it is supplied through the mains, is covered by Group 2 of Schedule 8: see Notice 701/16, Water and sewerage services.

Excepted item 4 to Group 1 covers bottled water sold as a drink, and all varieties are standard-rated: flavoured or unflavoured, still or gassy, processed or bottled straight from the spring.

There are types of bottled water which are not sold as drinks, for instance as refills for car batteries, and the liability of these should be considered under the Group 2 provisions. Distilled or deionised water and water of similar purity is standard-rated.


The liability of ice is also determined by Group 2 of Schedule 8. The general position is that ice is zero-rated where made from ordinary water. However, according to the law, ice that is made from such waters as listed in Item 2 (a) of Group 2 would be standard-rated.

Ice made from substances other than plain water, such as flavoured ice cubes, are not a supply of water within the meaning of Item 2 of Group 2. Such flavoured ice cubes are considered to fall within Item 4 of the excepted Items of Group 1 and are therefore standard-rated.