End to VAT zero rate relief for PPE and new EC support measures


The European Commission (EC) has put forward taxation and customs measures to support access to more affordable equipment, vaccines and testing kits.

The support measures include:

  • prolonging the current temporary waiver of customs duties and VAT on imports of medical devices and protective equipment; and
  • granting VAT relief to sales of coronavirus vaccines and testing kits to hospitals and medical practitioners.

Further information can be found at https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/news/covid-19-commission-puts-forward-taxation-and-customs-measures-support-access-more-affordable-equipment-vaccines-and-testing-kits_en.


Treasury confirms it is to end VAT waiver on PPE in UK. Items such as protective face masks and gloves will no longer be exempt from 20% sales tax. The standard 20% VAT rate will apply to protective equipment again from 1 November. 

Face masks and gloves will cost more from the end of this month after the government said a temporary waiver of VAT on personal protective equipment (PPE) will not be extended.

The Treasury has confirmed that the 20% sales tax would once more apply to protective equipment bought by firms and consumers from November, after a six-month exemption.

While care homes and the healthcare sector can access PPE from the Department of Health and Social Care, the increase could mean extra costs for businesses and ordinary people, who are legally bound to use masks in shops and on public transport.

The government initially cut the tax to zero on 1 May to “relieve the burden of VAT on the price of purchasing PPE used for protection from coronavirus by frontline workers”. The measure applied to PPE approved for use by Public Health England and was aimed in particular at care homes, to help them buy stocks of masks, gloves and gowns, amid a flood of infections in the sector and a global scramble for equipment.


The total saving to care homes and companies is thought to have been more than £300m over six months.

Health and social care providers are now able to source PPE via a government portal designed for the purpose. But private sector businesses in the food wholesale and retail sectors, as well as ordinary consumers, cannot.

Food and convenience store wholesalers have warned that they and other businesses that are obliged to use PPE are now facing increased costs just when they are struggling most.







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