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HMRC internal manual

VAT Food

Excepted items: pet food and wild bird food: wild bird food

Packaged food for wild birds is standard-rated by excepted item 6 of Group 1 of Schedule 8 to the VAT Act 1994, which includes packaged foods (not being pet food) for birds other than poultry or game. (See VFOOD0200.) This section deals only with wild bird food. Food for pet birds is treated exactly the same as other pet food.

A number of different products are sold for feeding to wild birds, for example, peanuts, either loose or in special bird feeders or nets and seed and cereal mixes designed to attract garden birds. Some of the specialised mixes are sponsored or marketed by wildlife charities such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Food which is packaged and held out for sale as food for wild birds is standard-rated.

Packaged means supplied in a retail or mail order pack and includes bags, boxes, nets and bird feeders. It does not include bags over 12.5 kg weight, which are usually sold wholesale and broken down into smaller quantities for retail sale. Food which is sold loose and simply put into bags at the point of retail sale is not regarded as packaged.

‘Held out for sale’ means how it is advertised, invoiced or labelled. Single products (straights), such as peanuts, will be standard-rated if they are advertised as being for wild birds as well as being packaged.

A mixture specifically aimed at a particular species of wild bird is considered to be held out for sale for feeding to that type of bird, regardless of the way it is advertised, invoiced or labelled. If it is also packaged, it will be standard-rated.