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HMRC internal manual

VAT Place of Supply of Services

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Where performed services: Supplies of admission to relevant business customers: Meaning of “event”

An event is normally characterised by a gathering of people to watch or take part in an activity. The most common forms of event are sporting matches, theatrical or musical performances, conferences, exhibitions and trade shows. It also includes amusement parks, tours or visits around stately homes and seminars. Another characteristic is that they are normally only supplied for a short or limited duration, rather than on an ongoing basis. However, this does not preclude there being a series of individual events on a related theme.

It is often important to differentiate between an event and an activity itself. For example, seminars or conferences may have an educational nature and this may be the purpose behind those attending. Where these are of a singular nature or short duration, this does not preclude them from being an event. However, individual tuition or extended courses would clearly be supplies of education rather than events. It is therefore important to consider all relevant factors surrounding a supply when deciding whether a service is one of an event or an activity. If the event itself is only a small or minor part of the supply then it may be considered to be incidental or ancillary to main element. For example, an education course may consist of extensive reading materials, marked assignments and examinations, along with a number of classroom sessions. In this case the classroom session, which could potentially otherwise be seen as an event, would represent a non-dominant part of the overall supply of education.

Examples

  1. A university holds a three day symposium on particle physics. It charges for admission to attendees from international academic and business communities. Although there is a clear academic and educational benefit, being akin to an educational seminar, it is held for a relatively short defined period. It is therefore seen as an event and the admission supplied where the event takes place.
  2. Another university runs a year long course “Economics for Business”. The course involves a weekly evening of lectures, along with submitted coursework and reading lists. As the course runs for an extended period of time, rather than short isolated instances, the supply is education rather than an event and so is supplied where the business customer belongs under the general rule.
  3. A stately home is open to visitors seven days per week and charges admission to the house and gardens. Although the home is open on a continuing basis, rather than for short specific times, it is still regarded as being an event. This is because it is comparable to a cultural exhibition and so the admission is supplied where the home is located.
  4. A UK training company runs five day workshops in customer service skills which are held on its premises. Places on the courses are limited and are charged per person attending (although discounts are offered for groups). An Italian customer books ten of its employees on a course where they are the only participants. As the training takes place over a short, specific period of time and the workshop itself is the clear dominant element, this is an event. It is essentially an educational seminar. Unlike example 3 at VATPOSS08254, the UK Company is providing spaces on a course rather than agreeing to host an event. Therefore the charge is for admission and supplied in the UK.
  5. A training provider runs a “blended” learning course on project management skills. The course consists of a significant self-study e-learning package, with a final classroom session and examination. By definition self study packages do not involve a gathering of people to take part in an activity and so they are not events. However, if self study packages are blended with classroom sessions it is necessary consider which part, if any, is dominant. Only where the classroom session is the dominant part of the service will the package be seen as an event.