Aircraft and ships

By Tolley

The following Value Added Tax guidance note by Tolley provides comprehensive and up to date tax information covering:

  • Aircraft and ships
  • Qualifying aircraft and ships
  • Supplying aircraft and ships

This guidance note provides an overview of the zero-rating provisions that apply to certain qualifying aircraft and ships. This note should be read in conjunction with the Aircraft and ships – modification, repair and conversion guidance note.

Qualifying aircraft and ships

VATA 1994, Sch 8, Group 8, Items 1, 2; 2006/112/EC , Article 148; VAT Notice 744C ; VTRANS110100; De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.251 (subscription sensitive)

The following will be viewed as aircraft for the purposes of these provisions:

  • aeroplanes (civil and military)
  • airships
  • helicopters


  • satellites
  • spacecraft

A qualifying aircraft is legally defined as an aircraft that is:

  • used by an airline operating for reward chiefly on international routes (see below)
  • used by a state institution (see Council Directive 2006/112/EC , Annex X, Part B), is of a weight of not less than 8,000 kg and is neither designed nor adapted for use for recreation or pleasure. The weight is its authorised maximum take-off weight. This is specified:
    • civil aircraft - in the certificate of airworthiness in force for the aircraft
    • military aircraft - in the released documents issued by the Ministry of Defence

A state institution includes the following (this list is not exhaustive and other similar bodies would also qualify):

  • central government departments and agencies
  • devolved administrations
  • The Crown
  • the Royal Mail


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