Young children's clothing and footwear (VAT Notice 714)


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Oct 31, 2023

Young children's clothing and footwear (VAT Notice 714)

Find out which supplies of children’s clothing or footwear are zero-rated for VAT. This notice explains when supplies of children’s clothing and footwear can be zero-rated for VAT. Read this notice if

Find out which supplies of children’s clothing or footwear are zero-rated for VAT.

This notice explains when supplies of children’s clothing and footwear can be zero-rated for VAT.

Read this notice if you design, manufacture and sell — either as wholesaler or retailer — items of children’s clothing.

You may zero-rate your supply when all of the following 4 conditions are met, it must:

The best way is to consider them one at a time as follows:

First determine if it’s an article of clothing or footwear, if it is not, it’s standard-rated. If, having read the following section, you’re satisfied that the item is an article of clothing or footwear you must also consider the other conditions in paragraph 1.3.

As well as all the obvious garments, ‘articles of clothing’ includes items such as hats, caps, braces, belts, garters and scarves. It also includes items that, although primarily designed as safety aids, such as cyclists tabards or sailors life jackets, still have the form and function of clothing.

‘Articles of clothing’ does not include clothing accessories and items of haberdashery sold separately, or safety accessories which are not themselves clothing, such as:

See paragraph 4.5 for more information.

Most items of baby wear, such as bonnets, bootees and matinee jackets, can be clearly recognised as clothing, but the following less obvious items are also considered to be ‘articles of clothing’:

However, the following are not considered to be clothing and are standard-rated:

Articles of footwear include:

Articles of footwear not included are:

You must standard rate any articles made wholly or partly of fur skin — that is any skin with fur, hair or wool attached.

Subject to the other condition at paragraph 1.3 the following items may be zero-rated:

After you have decided that the item is an article of clothing or footwear, and that it is not made of fur, you must then decide if the item is designed for young children.

This will normally be done either on the basis of the item’s physical measurement or on the body size of the child it’s intended to fit. However, you should remember before the garments can be zero-rated you must also satisfy the other conditions in paragraph 1.3.

HMRC will accept that garments are designed for young children as long as they are at or within the tabled measurements. These measurements are based on children up to the eve of their 14th birthday, as this is when the body dimensions begin to merge with those of the general adult population.

The garments should be measured on a flat surface, with creases smoothed out, buttons (or equivalent) fastened and any intended overlap in place. Chest measurements should normally be taken 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) below the base of the armhole and multiplied by 2. Similarly, waist measurements should be taken from one side of the fastened waistband to the other and multiplied by 2.

*Those garments with elasticated waistbands should be measured at their full stretch. Those that have no fastening may be zero-rated up to a maximum stretched waist of 85cm (33.5 inches) for boys and 90cm (35.5 inches) for girls.

Some products are normally judged by different criteria or measurements. The following garments are also accepted as being designed for young children.

If the measurements are exceeded, the garments may still be accepted as designed for young children if you can satisfy HMRC that they’re both:

You will need to show HMRC that the body sizes you have used are appropriate to children under 14 and that the garments produced are only suitable for that age group. You must provide full specifications and reasoning in order to obtain HMRC’s written agreement prior to zero-rating supplies.

If you can show that you have designed a garment for a person under 14 and the body measurements used are at, or below, those in this table, you may zero-rate the resulting garment irrespective of its measurement, as long as it is only suitable for young children — see section 5.

You cannot zero-rate articles of clothing which are sold in one size only and that are suitable for both children and adults. Articles that stretch to fit, such as some sportswear, can be zero-rated as long as the garment is designed to fit a body size in accordance with paragraph 4.2.2.

HMRC will accept that footwear is designed for young people when the following measurements are met:

If you can show us that your products are designed exclusively for the under 14s and that they’re ‘held out for sale’ (see section 5.2 to find out what this means) to this age group — see section 5.

Most lines of footwear are designed for one sex or the other, either in overall construction or by the choice of colour and trim. You should zero-rate such footwear according to the rules relating to girls’ or boys’ footwear as appropriate.

True ‘unisex’ footwear is as suitable for girls as it is for boys and can only be zero-rated up to and including size 5 and a half, the maximum size for girls footwear.

Where a child has one foot significantly larger than the other or requires an unusually high heel for one foot, the pair of shoes can be zero-rated if the smaller shoe qualifies for the relief.

Young children have proportionately larger heads than older people and many children’s hats will fit adults.

However, you can still zero-rate hats (including caps and other items of headgear) which are suitable by design only for young children — for example babies’ bonnets, school hats — or if they’re clearly ‘held out for sale’ (see section 5.2 to find out what this means) for young children.

The following items have been accepted as falling within the relief:

If you sell larger riding hats specifically for young children, you can zero-rate them as long as they’re fitted, adapted or otherwise appropriate only for young children.

For example, the range of riding hats for young children may be less sophisticated (in terms of design and appearance) than the adult range in the same sizes.

If you think that the riding hats are eligible for the zero-rate, you must check with us first and get our written approval before zero-rating them.

All cycle helmets are zero-rated irrespective of size or how they’re ‘held out for sale’.

Children’s face masks are considered to be items of clothing and can be zero-rated as long as they are specifically designed and ‘held out for sale’ (see section 5.2 to find out what this means) for young children — see section 5.

Young children’s heads are proportionately larger for their bodies than older people, this may mean some of these face masks also fit adults.

There is no general maximum measurement that applies for children’s face masks. The main criteria you should use to decide if these items can qualify for the zero-rate is the suitability test.

Where there is no specific design variation between children’s and adults’ face masks, and packaging is unclear, the face mask will not qualify for the zero-rate.

Some other articles worn on the head cannot be zero-rated, even though they’re for young children. This is because they’re accessories rather than clothing. This includes the following articles that do not cover the whole head:

Novelty hats, party hats and play hats made out of materials such as paper or plastic are not clothing. They are toys and are standard-rated.

HMRC accepts belts, braces, neckties, gloves, garters, scarves, ruffs, collars and shirt frills as traditional items of clothing and they may be zero-rated irrespective of size, as long as they’re ‘held out for sale’ (see section 5.2 to find out what this means) for the under 14s only — see section 5.

This is the final step in deciding if you can apply the zero-rate to your product. You must have addressed the previous conditions detailed in paragraph 1.3.

The final test that must be satisfied is that the articles must not be suitable for older people. This can be met by making sure that they’re ‘held out for sale’ (see section 5.2 to find out what this means) for young children, which is your statement that the items are suitable only for young children and therefore unsuitable for older people.

This is the way in which the article is labelled, packaged, displayed, invoiced or advertised. It includes any promotional items and the heading under which an article is listed in a catalogue, webpage or price list.

You cannot necessarily zero-rate goods you sell simply because they were zero-rated when you bought them. How they’re ‘held out for sale’ will affect their liability.

Goods, which may qualify at the design stage, will fail the suitability test if they’re labelled to fit sizes larger than those in the body measurements table in paragraph 4.2.2.

You must be able to show us that items qualify for zero-rating from product specification or other documentation. You must identify them appropriately on any labelling and packaging, and in any promotional material and on invoices.

You must clearly identify the article as being only suitable for children on invoices and price lists. If the goods are on display they must clearly be identified and segregated.

If you provide a catalogue, it must identify the articles as being for children, preferably in a separate children’s section. The identical product must not appear in both adult and children’s sections.

You must clearly identify the goods as being for young children in any price list, page, catalogue or other promotional material, preferably using a discrete children’s section.

The potential purchaser should be in no doubt that the goods they’re looking at are for young children. Identical goods must not appear in both adult and children’s sections.

You can zero-rate clothing for young children only if it’s clear from labels, signs, packaging, advertising that it’s intended for young children and you either:

The extent to which you’re able to isolate and identify young children’s clothing will vary depending upon the size and type of retail outlet you have.

However, you should be able to show HMRC that you have as good a system as is practical in your circumstances. The potential purchaser should not be left in any doubt that you’re selling items for young children.

Because the way you hold goods out for sale may affect their VAT liability, you’ll need to consider the operation of your retail scheme.

The paragraph on goods bought at one rate but sold at another in Apportionment VAT Retail Schemes (VAT Notice 727/4) and Direct Calculation VAT Retail Schemes (VAT Notice 727/5) provides the essential information on this topic.

There is no specific relief for items of school uniform, they’re subject to the normal rules for children’s clothes.

However, if you supply garments under a specific agreement with a school which is exclusively for pupils under 14 years of age you may be able to apply the zero-rate beyond the garment measurements in paragraph 4.2.

The garments must be unique to that school by design, such as a prominent badge or piping in school colours, and ‘held out for sale’ (see section 5.2 to find out what this means) as being for that school only. If these conditions are met, you may apply the zero-rate irrespective of garment size.

The same principles apply to clothing items which form the uniform of other children’s organisations catering exclusively for the under 14s, such as Beavers and Brownies.

These may be zero-rated irrespective of size as long as they’re:

Zero-rating does not apply to items which may also be worn by older groups such as Scouts.

You can zero-rate the packaged kits, but only if:

If you sell play outfits consisting of both zero-rated clothing and incidental standard-rated items at an inclusive price (such as a cowboy suit with a toy gun or a policeman’s uniform with toy handcuffs), the supply is seen as a single supply of children’s clothing.

This is because the gun or handcuffs are considered to be incidental to the main supply of the clothing you may zero-rate the whole sale.

Where the standard-rated element is not incidental — such as a babies gift set comprising of a bib and feeding cup — you will need to consider the liability of the supply in relation to the guidance in the VAT supply and consideration Manual and section 8 on multiple and single supplies in VAT guide (Notice 700).

You can zero-rate the process of making young children’s clothing from cloth owned by someone else.

Other processes may also be eligible for zero-rating if, after the work is finished, the processed article clearly becomes a child’s garment which itself is normally zero-rated or the processed goods can only be incorporated in such an item.

These services do not qualify for the relief as they’re applied to goods that maintain their essential nature.

For example, a blazer that has its sleeve length altered, its collar repaired, or a school badge embroidered on its pocket, is not sufficiently changed by that process to produce a new item.

However, if the blazer were changed into a waistcoat by the process, the service would have produced a new item. If this waistcoat meets the criteria for zero-rating then the process would also be zero-rated.

You can zero-rate the hire or loan of any item that would itself be zero-rated. This includes items such as bridesmaids and page boys outfits, fancy dress costumes and nappy hire services where the nappies are collected for laundering and replaced with fresh ones.

The separate supply of ice-skates, roller skates, ten-pin bowling shoes, is also eligible for the relief in accordance with the size criteria for footwear in paragraph 4.3.

However, if you charge a single price for admission that also includes the loan of footwear, you must consider your supply in relation to the guidance on single and multiple supplies in the VAT supply and consideration Manual and in VAT guide (Notice 700).

Read the HMRC Charter to find out what you can expect from us and what we expect from you.

If you have any feedback about this notice, email: [email protected].

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If you need general help with this notice or have another VAT question you should phone our VAT helpline or make a VAT enquiry online.

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Paragraph 4.4.2 has been updated to include information about children’s face masks.

First published.