The term ‘patient appliances’ refers to items worn by patients such as footwear, callipers, wigs, etc and also applies to aids such as wheelchairs and walking frames. The following guidance aims to clarify the VAT recovery treatment under the contracted-out services rules.

Custom Made Items

The supply of bespoke surgical footwear or of a wheelchair or other appliance specifically designed for a particular patient is not eligible for VAT recovery as the supply is primarily of goods. If however, the manufacturer clearly differentiates on the invoice between the goods element and any service element of modifications and/or adaptations, Customs allow VAT recovery on the services element under contracted-out services item 52, ‘Professional services, etc.’. Examples of modifications are:

  • Raising a sole or heel
  • Fitting bespoke straps/supports/callipers

In these circumstances, VAT can be recovered on the parts and spares elements which form a part of the service. VAT cannot however be recovered on the main supply of the goods, (e.g. the ‘base’ shoes).

Ready Made Items

The supply of ready-made patient appliances such as standard wheelchairs or boots is not eligible for VAT recovery as these are treated as goods only.

Maintenance & Repair

Repair services such as re-heeling or re-soling is eligible for VAT recovery under item 37, ‘Maintenance, repair and cleaning of equipment, etc.’.

Orthotist/Prosthetist Session Fees

These services are exempt from VAT under item 1c, group 7, schedule 9, VAT Act 1994, therefore the suppliers should not be charging VAT on their invoices. Up until 30 March 2003, these were being treated as standard-rated by most suppliers and as such, VAT was eligible for recovery under contracted-out services item 52, ‘Professional services, etc.’