Food ― catering

Produced by Tolley
Food ― catering

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

  • Food ― catering
  • Temporary reduced rate
  • Scope of exclusion from zero-rating for catering
  • What is a supply in the course of catering?
  • Food requiring further preparation
  • Delivered sandwiches and grocery items
  • Packed lunches
  • When is food for consumption on the premises?
  • Meaning of ‘premises’
  • Vending machines
  • More...

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marked the end of the Brexit transition / implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time, key transitional arrangements came to an end and significant changes began to take effect across the UK’s VAT and customs regime. This document contains guidance on subjects potentially impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see the Brexit — overview guidance note.

This guidance note explores what is meant by ‘catering’ in the context of the zero-rating for food. Catering is specifically excluded from zero-rating and so catering supplies are standard-rated.

For an overview of the scope of zero-rating for food in VATA 1994, Sch 8, Group 1, see the Food ― overview of zero-rating guidance note.

In-depth commentary on the legislation and case law on catering can be found in De Voil Indirect Tax Service V4.220.

Temporary reduced rate

This note has not been updated to reflect the introduction of the reduced rate .

For details of the temporary reduced rate, please see the Hospitality industry ― temporary reduced rate from 15 July 2020 - 31 March 2022 guidance note for full details of the temporary changes.

Scope of exclusion from zero-rating for catering

The following catering supplies are excluded from zero-rating:

  1. supplies made in the ‘course of catering’

  2. food and drink supplied for consumption on the premises

  3. hot takeaway food

VATA 1994, Sch 8, Group 1(a), Note 3

These catering supplies are described in more detail in this guidance note.

What is a supply in the course of catering?

Catering is the supply of prepared food and drink, and it usually involves a significant element of service being provided to the customer. Supplies made in restaurants, at weddings and the delivery of cooked meals to the customer’s house are typical examples of supplies of catering.

Food and drink supplied as part of a catering contract will also be liable to VAT at the standard rate.

Food requiring further preparation


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