GAMBICA VAT zero rating guidance

27 November 2023

GAMBICA is pleased to welcome updated guidance from HMRC issued on 6 October 2023, which provides much-needed clarification on the eligibility for VAT relief of qualifying medical, scientific, laboratory and other equipment or services purchased for medical or veterinary research.

Download the pdf document to read the full guidance.

To read the full press release, click here.

For more details on the VAT decision hierarchy, click here.



1 - Do gloves that are used to prevent cross-contamination of the samples for medical research qualify?

Gloves are well covered in the list of examples (paragraph 4.11 of the updated guidance) but our discussions never got a definitive yes or no view from HMRC on our grey items, however the use must be declared by the purchaser (e.g. a declaration or Certificate A). If it is PPE and claimed as an accessory to be able to improve the use to better effect of eligible equipment (personal safety, or to stop operator contamination) then there is an argument it is now Zero Rated for VAT.

As PPE is explicitly generally not allowed, it would be perhaps prudent to accept this argument only if the glove was dual registered (as a medical device) or had been declared for medical or surgical use by the manufacturer, usually via evidence or testing or drawings of design of some sort as medical or surgical equipment.

This is a decision for the member to make, but the VAT Group would suggest it may not be sufficient to rely on the declared use of e.g. a nitrile glove to be medical, scientific or laboratory equipment if it was simply registered for safety and sold generally as PPE. A general safe rule would be to always charge VAT for PPE if in doubt.

For the item to be ‘eligible equipment’ itself it must be ‘designed for or intended for’ or used for a ‘qualifying purpose’, in a laboratory, or to perform a scientific function or has features and characteristics that identify it as being specifically designed for a medical or dental purpose or function (e.g. the treatment of patients). This is a much wider definition than before and allows the argument to include more products used, rather than exclude them completely if found in the previous list of examples.

HMRC clearly state that it is the suppliers liability to charge ZRV correctly and ensure all the conditions are met – see paragraphs 8.1 and 8.2 .