How VAT applies to printed items

The Edinburgh Copyshop is a VAT registered business, so we need to collect tax on certain items from our pricelist but the rules on printed matter are complex and some items can sit on the fine line between definitions for a standard-rated item and a zero-rated item. This means we will often need to assess your artwork before we know if VAT will apply.

What are the rules for printed matter?

The UK Government publishes guidance on tax for printed matter online:

This guidance includes a list of types of printed goods with their associated taxable status, you can read it here:

This list is quite comprehensive and usually we are able to determine if VAT should apply by the description of your order, but sometimes we will need to see the contents of a document to know the description that best fits.

What is a standard-rated item?

A standard-rated item is any order that is subject to VAT at the normal rate of 20%. VAT registered business like the Edinburgh Copyshop must collect this tax on behalf of the UK Government where it applies.

What is a zero-rated item?

A zero-rated item is effectively exempt from VAT at the normal rate. No tax should be collected for the sale of these items.

Do your quotes include VAT?

Generally we will quote for work excluding VAT. It should be assumed that you will need to pay tax at the standard rate (20%) unless we explicitly state your order is zero-rated.

How do The Edinburgh Copyshop assess items for VAT?

When we need to determine if tax should apply we must look at the content of the document or design in question.

For example: If you may be printing something that could be considered a ‘book’ in a loose sense and request a quote for a book or publication in your initial correspondence we will quote you for a zero-rated item, however, if we receive your artwork and realise that is primarily full of areas for completion (like a diary or log-book) then we will be obliged to collect VAT at the standard-rate in addition to our quote for printing the order.

What do I do if I still have questions about VAT?

If you need to talk with a member of staff about VAT on your order please contact us