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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

Government departments and health authorities: Contracted Out Services (COS) Headings: COS Heading 61 - Services of printing, copying, reproducing or mailing of any documents or publications, including typesetting services


  • Post opening services
  • Franking
  • Labelling services including printing of bespoke forms, labels, cards, reports, letterheads etc. (bespoke means from scratch designed specifically for the government department/NHS body)
  • Parcel X-raying services
  • Photocopying services supplied by outside firms
  • Services of mailing agencies
  • Printing services or reproduction of documents or publications for example, annual reports
  • Typesetting services
  • Micro filming and microfiche services



  • Post box hire
  • Shredding machines
  • Franking machines


Additional information

  • In the case of printing services, although the supply of the paper is a supply of goods, it is considered an intrinsic part of the service being provided (for example, it is impossible to receive the service of printed letterheads without the paper on which the letterhead is printed).  Therefore, the VAT would be eligible for recovery on the total contract price, which will normally include that of typesetting, paper and the use of the printing or embossing machinery.
  • The initial supply of signs and names badges (also the complete replacement of) is not eligible for recovery, as they are seen as goods. Signs replaced because of government departments/NHS bodies merging would be recoverable, as would repairs to existing signs.