What are the Rules for VAT on Print Products?

VAT, or Value-Added Tax, is a kind of tax added to the value of products and services. It is charged in the form of a percentage of the products and services’ selling price. It must be paid upon purchase.

All businesses are required to apply VAT to the customer’s purchases as stipulated by the government.

VAT Rates

What are the Rules for VAT on Print Products? | VAT rates

There are three types of VAT rates implemented by the UK government, namely Zero Rate, Reduced Rate or 5% Rate, and Standard Rate or 20% Rate. Note that all print products are rated the same. They either have a Standard Rate or Zero Rate. So, which items are exempt from VAT and which are not?

Zero Rate Print Products

Zero-rated means the products and services are charged 0%. In a way, these products are VAT free. However, you must record them in your accounts and report them on your VAT Return. Zero-rated print products include the following:

  • Books including children’s picture books, painting books, picture books, and recipe books
  • Booklets and brochures
  • Bulletins
  • Catalogues
  • Circulars
  • Directories
  • Election materials
  • Flyers and leaflets
  • Journals
  • Magazines
  • Manuals
  • Maps, charts, and topographical plans
  • Menus
  • Newspapers
  • Pamphlets
  • Periodicals
  • Publications
  • Fully-printed price lists
  • Printed or copied music
  • Sports programmes

Standard Rate Print Products

Standard Rate means products and services are charged a 20% rate from the selling price. Most products and services have a standard rate unless the goods are classified as Reduced Rate or Zero Rate goods. The following print products have the Standard Rate applied:

Special Rules and Exceptions

What are the Rules for VAT on Print Products? | Special Rules and Exceptions

There are some items on both the lists for zero-rated and standard-rated products that have some exceptions.

Flyers, Leaflets, and Pamphlets

A Zero Rate is applied to flyers, leaflets, and pamphlets unless they do not follow the qualifications to be considered as such.

For Brochures and Pamphlets

According to VAT Notice 701/10, brochures and pamphlets are not defined by law. This means, whether or not a print product is a brochure or pamphlet is “a matter of fact and impression.” However, single-sheet brochures and “wallet” type brochures with a flap may be zero-rated provided they:

  • convey information
  • contain a substantial amount of text, with some indication of contents or of the issuing organisation
  • are not primarily designed to hold other items
  • are supplied complete

For Leaflets

Like brochures and pamphlets, they are also not defined by law. However, the print products will not be considered as leaflets and VAT will be applied if they are used for any of the following:

  • as a calendar
  • to obtain admission to premises
  • to obtain a discount on goods or services
  • as reference material
  • for completion or return

For Items with Areas of Completion

Leaflets, brochures, and pamphlets are generally considered to be zero-rated unless 25% or less of their total area has:

  • Areas which are blank and available for completion
  • Parts to be detached and returned

A publication which is designed to be returned after completion is always standard-rated.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding print VAT charges.