What are the Rules for VAT on Food?

Food VAT has been severely imposed over the years. Reducing human food waste is made possible through taxation, careful management, and monitoring of this levy, all of which contribute to an ever-improving living environment. Food is always subject to value-added tax nowadays, “sure, but not entirely.” It indicates that some foods will be liable for VAT and others will not. Accordingly, depending on what type of food, it can be present that people’s food supply is subject to numerous distinct rates.

Answers to questions like: Is the food entitled to zero or regular VAT? are required to determine whether a product is subject to VAT. To assist you in evaluating your business and usage, we have included the pertinent information about food VAT in this post.

Is food subject to VAT?

The following three considerations will help you determine VAT on food:

  1. What VAT rate applies to the food itself—zero or standard?
  2. Are you eating hot or cold food?
  3. Are you providing food for in-house consumption or takeout?

Many foods sold through various channels are subject to VAT. However, the regulations change for particular goods and circumstances. When determining how VAT on food may impact your business, it is a good idea to start with the essential VAT guidance provided by the government:

  • Typically, food and beverages intended for human consumption have zero VAT rate.
  • Catering, alcoholic beverages, sweets, salty snacks, sports drinks, hot takeout, ice cream, fizzy drinks, and mineral water are all standard-rated items.
  • Restaurants always necessary to collect VAT.
  • For all hot takeaway and delivery services, restaurants and takeout vendors must charge VAT.

Except if the food is present at tables inside the takeaway or in a specified place, collecting VAT on cold takeout is unnecessary.

What items have a VAT zero rate?

All unprocessed food products intended for human consumption, comprising:

  • Uncooked meat and fish
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • grain products, nuts, and pulses
  • Cooking herbs

There are many additional scenarios to take into account. Twiglets and tortilla chips receive a zero rating, whereas crisps receive a standard rating.

Businesses can tackle the task of reading and comprehending the regulations by using the government’s extensive resources available on gov.uk. But when it comes to ensuring their VAT returns are 100% accurate, people in the food and hospitality industry value the advice of qualified tax accountants in uk.

VAT On Restaurant Meals

Anything created “in the process of catering” is always present at the usual rate. What does it mean, though, to say “in the process of catering”?

Providing food and drink, including a large amount of service, is famous as catering. It may consist of the following:

  • Food and beverages are present at cafes, eateries, canteens, and similar establishments, excluding cold takeout food.
  • The delivery of prepared meals or foods
  • Event food and beverage services provided by third parties
  • Provision of cooking or food preparation services to a client at their residence

Examples of zero-rated items that are not “in the process of catering” include:

  • Frozen takeout food
  • Food items
  • Food or drink that needs the client to prepare significantly more

VAT on Takeaway Foods

Due to people’s increased demand for convenience and speed, takeaway services are growing. There is also the Covid crisis and the expansion of delivery apps. Lowering the VAT on other things benefits many expanding enterprises, especially if they are close to the VAT threshold.

Products that are frozen have a standard rating. These are present in a specified dining area are typically charged. The food will not be liable to VAT in this scenario, though, if it is cold but needs to be cooked or fully defrosted before consumption.

VAT And A Hot Meal

Hot food is subject to the usual VAT rate. But what constitutes hot food for VAT purposes?

According to the government, it is food that has been:

  • Cooked so that it is hot.
  • maintained warm after heating
  • promoted or advertised in a manner that suggests that it gets hot
  • heated upon request
  • given to customers in heat-retaining packaging or food-safe packaging for hot foods
  • A heated pasty or toasted sandwich is of the standard rate, whereas a cold pasty or untoasted sandwich has zero rates.

Extra Food

Standard candy generally has a 5% VAT, which includes all food supplies. Confectionery with a standard rating includes chocolate, sweets, chocolate chip cookies, and other manufactured items with added sugar.

Sell non-edible cake decorations with a cake, including bride and groom figurines or silver horseshoes with cakes. You are only required to pay for VAT on the decoration and consider your sale as a mixed supply if it is a different item all on its own.

Additionally, there are VAT rules for snacks, including those made from veggies, potato flour, or starch; cereal-based snacks (but only those made through the bulging or extrusion processes, in which air is present under strain into a paste of grain flour or starch) during the production process to create an enlarged, gaseous product); and brined roasted nuts. These items are all applicable to standard VAT.

What Is Food In The Context Of VAT?

The VAT regulations define “food for human consumption” as:

  • The typical individual would view it as food or a drink if they knew what it was and how to use it.
  • It is suitable for ingestion by people.

It also includes popular food ingredients, such as flour, and items that can be present as a snack or as a meal component. Despite being taken by people, medications, medicated prescriptions, nutritional supplements, food ingredients, etc., are not considered foods.

Any substance that is unsafe for human consumption, such as discarded cooking oil, tainted or wasted food products, or substances that are animal feed, may qualify for a 0 rating. However, everything that is unsafe for either animals or humans to consume is at a standard rate.


These days, there are several VAT requirements for various sorts of food. Handle and record meals with multiple VAT rates in your firm so that it is simple to determine revenue and expenses. Also, get in touch with an experienced accountant.

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