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Printing and VAT: which printed products do you have to pay VAT on

31st August 2012

Which printed products do you have to pay VAT on? VAT does apply to some printed products…but no all of them. This is a short blog to tell you which printed products carry VAT and which do not. Lets all try and keep HM Revenue and Customs happy together!


We all know about VAT, but here’s a bit more detail:


- Setup in 1973 as a result of Britain entering the European Economic Community.

-From a low point of 8% in June 1974, VAT in the UK has risen to 20% at the time of writing (2011).

-VAT is the third largest source of government revenue.

-Fundamentally, VAT is a tax on consumer expenditure, i.e. it is a tax on the supply of goods and services.

-VAT is charged when a VAT-registered business sells to another business, or a non-business customer.

-There are different bands of VAT- 20% (standard VAT), 5% (reduced VAT) and 0% (zero VAT Rated). When it comes to printing, we are only concerned with 20% and 0% VAT.


Obviously, that is all very boring. But, if you’re interested in buying print, it is really import to know what printed products are VATable and which are Zero Rated, as obviously this affects how much you will be paying.


Zero Rated Print Products and Services:


* Books

* Booklets

* Brochures

* Catalogues

* Directories

* Flyers (to be distributed by hand)

Funeral order of service booklets

* Journals

* Magazines

* Manuals

* Maps

* Sheet Music

* Newsletters

* Newspapers

* Pamphlets

* Price lists (without an order form)

* Timetables

Wedding Order of Service Programmes


You should be aware that leaflets are a special case and there are some conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the product to be Zaro Rated. Firstly, there must be a significant amount of text on at least one side of the leaflet. This is to ensure that the product is being printed for hand-held reading purposes, as opposed to wall mounting/hanging. Secondly, the leaflet must be printed no large than an A4 piece of paper. Thirdly, the leaflet must be a single, self-contained item and not part of a larger package. Finally, the leaflet must not be printed on paper heavier than 230gsm. With alls these conditions met, a printed leaflet carries a zero VAT rating.


VATable/VAT rated print products and services (20%):


* Acceptance cards

* Business cards

* Calendars

* Certificates

* Change of Address cards

* Compliment slips

* Coupons

* Delivery notes

* Diaries, envelopes

* Folders

* Forms

* Invitations

* Invoices

* Labels

* Letterheads

* Postcards

* Posters

* Questionnaires

* Save the Date Cards

* Stationery

* Stickers

* Tickets

* Transparencies

* Wedding Thank you cards


It should also be noted that some print/design services are VATable:


* Scanning

* Lamination

* Binding

* Duplication of photographs

* Design work

* Photography

* Photocopying


So if you are ordering any of the print products above, be prepared for a 20% prices increase. Here at, every quote is the bottom line price. So don’t worry, there won’t be any nasty surprises at the bottom of your bill.





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Printing a poster? Check out this blog post on making sure your design is top notch

Tone, colour and content: get off to a great start with a solid design brief

If you’re looking for booklets then why not find out which bind options are available to you.

Have a look over’s checklist for flyer designers. You wont be sorry.

Here for booklets? Make sure you choose the perfect paper. Have a look here for more information.