VQOTW: School Uniforms

My client sells uniforms for several schools in the area. The client purchases blazers that have no school logo. When a customer comes into the shop to purchase the uniform, they choose the school logo and trim colours they need embroidering onto the blazer, and the client also offers a service to have the pupil’s name added to the clothing at an extra charge. Is the service of having the school logo and pupil’s name added zero rated or standard rated?

Supplies of children’s clothing and footwear can be zero rated when four conditions are met:

  • It is an article of clothing or footwear.
  • It is not made of fur.
  • It is designed for young children.
  • It is only suitable for young children.

In deciding whether these four conditions have been met, you need to consider if the items are designed for and only suitable for young children. These factors are generally based on the item’s physical measurement or on the body size of the child it is intended to fit.

There are no specific reliefs for items of school uniform; they are subject to the normal rules and size criteria for children’s clothes. However, HMRC’s Clothing Manual VCLOTHING6050 confirms that zero rating is allowed irrespective of size for certain garments which are items of official school uniform for schools whose pupils are all under 14 years old.  Garments that are unique to the school by design, such as having a badge or piping in school colours, can be zero rated irrespective of the size of the garment.  It would be reasonable to treat the addition of the pupil’s name as incidental to the supply, and also zero rated.

Therefore, where your client is selling a blazer to which he has added the badge of a school where all pupils are below the age of 14, that item will be zero rated.  Blazers for schools where there are older pupils will only be zero rated when they are within the size limits set out in VAT notice 714 at section 4.

Further details on zero rating young children’s clothing can be found here in VAT Notice 714.

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VAT Advisor
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Arti has worked in VAT since 2004 spending 11 years with HMRC. During her time in the department she was a visiting officer, a business records check officer providing educational visits and spent the last three years on the Alcohol Fraud team where she gained a good understanding of civil penalties and appeals. In addition she was an IT specialist providing support to colleagues and an associate trainer delivering VAT and Penalties training.

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