VAT-free printed items

The Panda Press guide to VAT on printed materials

VAT on printed materials

Although VAT is charged on some printed items, other materials are exempt. Confused? We understand that HMRC rules can be a bit of a minefield so with this in mind we’ve put together a general guide to help you.


Zero rate v standard rate

As a very rough rule, items that you write on such as stationery, calendars, forms, compliments slips and greetings cards will all carry a standard rate of VAT. Products such as tickets or coupons are also subject to the charge.

However, printed materials which are for information and promotional purposes (more about this in a moment) are zero-rated – which means you won’t have to pay VAT. These include leaflets, brochures and books.

For a quick overview of what is exempt and what is not, you can take a look at our handy comparison table

How can I make sure my leaflet is VAT exempt?

To qualify as a zero-rated product, a leaflet must be of a certain size (generally A4 but you can go up to A2 if it can be folded down and is printed on both sides) and be intended for a certain purpose.

However, it may not be exempt if:

  • It will be used to gain admission to an event (it is then classed as a ticket)
  • It is used to obtain a discount (it then becomes a voucher)
  • More than 25% of the leaflet has an area which can be written on by the customer, such as a return slip

Although the rules may seem limiting (and slightly arbitrary) with a dash of creativity there is a lot that you can do.

You can still devote a quarter of your printed content to a ‘Request more Information’ form, for example, and your leaflet may still advertise an event or a discount because this clearly meets the criteria for information and promotional purposes. What you can’t do if you wish to remain exempt is to use your leaflet in a transaction.

Any questions?

Of course if you are still confused, you can always give us a call on 01785 815110 and we will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

You can also take a look at the full HMRC guidelines by clicking here