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HMRC internal manual

VAT Transport

HM Revenue & Customs
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The supply of ships and aircraft: aircraft: legislative history

Pre 1 January 2011

Prior to 1 January 2011 the test for whether an aircraft was qualifying or not was based on the weight of the aircraft and the use for which it was designed.

Measurement of weight

The weight of an aircraft is its authorised maximum take-off weight. This is specified:

  • for civil aircraft - in the certificate of airworthiness in force for the aircraft
  • for military aircraft - in the release documents issued by the Ministry of Defence.

From 1 January 2011

Following infraction proceedings by the European Commission the test for a qualifying aircraft was changed to one based on the status of the business that operates the aircraft.

The changes do not, however, affect aircraft operated by State institutions for which the UK is relying on a derogation to maintain the status-quo- see VTRANS110630 

For all other aircraft a qualifying aircraft is one that is used by an airline operating for reward chiefly on international routes. See VTRANS110640