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HMRC internal manual

VAT Government and Public Bodies

Other local authority activities: miscellaneous (N to Z): weights and measures verification fees


These fees relate to the verification of the accuracy of weighing and measuring equipment used by businesses. They are sometimes called metrology fees.

Statutory background

There are a number of statutory provisions which relate to legal metrology and the fees charged by Local Weights & Measures Authorities (LWMA).

There are three core pieces of legislation which implement EU provisions concerning new weighing equipment. These are the:

  • Measuring Instruments Directive (MID) 2004/22/EC (implemented by multiple regulations coming into full effect on 30th October 2006)
  • Non-Automatic Weighing Instruments (NAWI) Directive 90/384/EEC (implemented by SI 2000/3236), and
  • Measuring Instruments (EEC Requirements) Regulations 1988 (MIR).

Existing UK legislation may still apply until 29 October 2016 where transitional provisions under the MID are still in force. In addition other non-harmonised weighing instruments are still covered by the Weights and Measures Act 1985.

Each piece of legislation focuses on a different type of weights and measuring equipment and allows for different types of body to carry out activities under the legislation.


Both the NAWI and the MID refer to a ‘notified body’ which can include both LWMA and private contractors. Each notified body is restricted to the type of equipment they can assess. Notified bodies can operate across local authority boundaries and even across EU frontiers, as a manufacturer is free to choose which notified body to approach to conduct the initial verification of their equipment.

The NAWI and MID also allow individual manufacturers to opt to self verify their own equipment under the responsibility of a quality assurance notified body.


MIR covers verification works being undertaken by LWMA only. LWMAs also have responsibility for enforcement of weights and measures within their own areas.

VAT treatment of metrology fees.

With the introduction of independent third party approved verifiers and the concept of notified bodies, LWMAs are no longer in a statutory monopoly position to provide metrology services. This means that when LMWAs act under legislation which also applies to other types of approved verifiers their services are subject to VAT.

It has been agreed that the following VAT treatment applies. Where services are provided by a LWMA under:

  • MIR - the activities are outside the scope of VAT as only a LWMA can provide verifications services under this legislation
  • NAWI - the activities are standard rated because the legislation applies equally to a LWMA and third party approved verifiers
  • MID - LWMA services can fall into two categories, so that where it:
    • conducts an initial verification of a new piece of weighing and measuring equipment, the supply is a standard rated business activity as these types of verification can be undertaken by third party approved verifiers
    • provides re-verification services under the Act, the activities are outside the scope of VAT as the Act states that re-verification can only be conducted by a LWMA.
  • the Weights and Measures Act - they are outside the scope of VAT as the services apply only to LWMAs.

Because of the complexity of the position following the implementation of the new rules, HMRC agreed to a period of grace to allow LWMAs to amend their billing systems to accommodate the changes. All LWMA were required to apply the above VAT treatment from 1 April 2008.