Print and VAT


VAT stands for value-added tax and is charged on most goods and services that are provided by a business within the UK as well as imported goods and services from outside of the EU. The default rate of VAT is 20%, this has been the standard rate since 4th January 2011.   


Under ‘VAT Notice 701/10: zero-rating of books and other forms of printed matter’ zero rated items are items that do not require VAT.     

Some items that are not subject to VAT are listed below:  

- Books – Booklets – Brochures – Catalogues – Directories - Some leaflets and fliers - Journals – Magazines – Newsletters - Manuals (unless in a ring binder) - Maps

- Sheet Music – Newspapers – Pamphlets - Price lists (without an order form)

- Timetables 




Items that require VAT to be paid at 20% are to be kept, publicly displayed or to be used as a business amenity. 

To know whether or not the items you have quoted for are subject to VAT, then check the quote to see if it includes VAT or says that VAT will be applied where appropriate. This will mean that there will be an additional 20% added to the quoted price.   


Some items that are subject to VAT are listed below: 

- Acceptance cards - Business cards – Calendars – Certificates - Compliment slips - Coupons - Delivery notes - Diaries, envelopes – Folders – Forms – Invitations - Invoices - Labels - Letterheads – Postcards – Posters – Questionnaires – Stickers - Tickets 


Now this is where things get a bit confusing. For leaflets to be a zero rated item they must be designed to be read a few times and then thrown away, they also must be printed on limp paper of standard A4 size or A2 provided that they are printed on both sides and is folded down to A4 or smaller. So this is where it becomes complicated, the tax man does not define limp paper. We take the view that 200gsm and above would be VATable. Another requirement for leaflets to be exempt from VAT is that they should be supplied in sufficient quantity so at least 50 copies, as well as conveying information and being a stand alone item. This means that the leaflets must not be a part of a bigger job set such as a mail pack, furthermore, as soon as a leaflet is hole punched and put into a binder or folder it is instantly VATable as it is no longer a leaflet.     

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Download Our Handy VAT and Print Guide