Animals and animal food

HMRC Reference:Notice 701/15 (December 2011) View Change History
 

Contents

Foreword

1. General

1.1 What is this notice about?

1.2 Who should read this notice?

2. Live animals

2.1 What supplies of live animals are zero-rated?

2.2 What animals are zero-rated?

2.3 What animals are standard-rated?

2.4 Are all animals that produce edible meat zero-rated?

2.5 Are pets zero-rated?

2.6 Are animals kept for non-food purposes zero-rated?

2.7 Are ‘unfit’ live food animals zero-rated?

2.8 Are embryos, eggs and semen for breeding zero-rated?

3. Birds and fish

3.1 Birds

3.2 Fish

4. Food for animals

4.1 What food for animals is zero-rated?

4.2 How do you tell if a product is intended to be fed to animals?

5. Animal feeding stuffs

5.1 What types of product are zero-rated?

5.2 Are ingredients for animal feeding stuffs zero-rated?

5.3 Are nutritional supplements zero-rated?

5.4 How is a product with more than one use treated?

6. Pet food

6.1 What is the liability of pet food?

6.2 What animals are pet species?

6.3 Non-pet species kept as pets

6.4 Food for working dogs

6.5 Biscuit and meal for cats and dogs

7. Canned, packaged and prepared pet food

7.1 What is the significance of ‘canned, packaged and prepared’?

7.2 What do ‘canned’ and ‘packaged’ mean?

7.3 What does ‘prepared’ as a pet food mean?

7.4 Processes that specialise a product as ‘pet food’

7.5 Other ‘animal food’ processes

8. Bird food

8.1 How do I decide which bird foods are zero-rated?

8.2 Cage birds

8.3 Poultry and game birds

8.4 Wild birds, other than poultry or game

8.5 Peanuts and other straights

9. Commodities sometimes used as animal feed

9.1 Meat, offal and similar abattoir products

9.2 Dead animals

9.3 Oils and fats

9.4 Medicinal products and feeding stuffs containing medicines

9.5 Straw

9.6 Grass and grazing rights

9.7 Examples of commodities usually zero-rated

9.8 Examples of commodities usually standard-rated

10. Livery and other care packages

10.1 Keep of animals

10.2 Stabling

10.3 Livery services

Your rights and obligations

Do you have any comments or suggestions?

Putting things right

How we use your information

 

Foreword

This notice cancels and replaces Notice 701/15 (March 2002).

1. General

1.1 What is this notice about?

This notice explains which:

  • live animals - see Sections 2 and 3; and
  • animal foods or feeding stuffs - see Sections 4 to 10

are zero-rated.

Paragraph 10.3 has been updated to include the liability of livery packages provided by special purpose stables.

This notice and others mentioned are available on our Internet website at hmrc.gov.uk.

1.2 Who should read this notice?

The information will be of interest to:

  • farmers;
  • animal breeders;
  • livestock markets;
  • animal feed manufacturers;
  • pet food manufacturers;
  • pet shop owners;
  • owners of stables, kennels and similar establishments which care for animals; and
  • wholesalers and retailers of animal food.

2. Live animals

2.1 What supplies of live animals are zero-rated?

You can zero-rate the:

  • sale;
  • hire or loan; or
  • supply of a part interest (a share),

of a live animal provided it is of a kind generally used in the United Kingdom as, or yielding or producing, food for human consumption.

Animal includes bird, fish, crustacean and mollusc.

2.2 What animals are zero-rated?

Examples of zero-rated animals are:

  • meat animals;
  • dairy animals;
  • poultry (except ornamental breeds), including those for egg production - see paragraph 3.1;
  • honey bees; and
  • fish (except ornamental breeds and coarse fish), including those for production of edible roes - see paragraph 3.2.

2.3 What animals are standard-rated?

Examples of standard-rated animals are:

  • bumble bees;
  • ornamental birds and fish;
  • racing pigeons; and
  • horses.

2.4 Are all animals that produce edible meat zero-rated?

No. Although some unusual meat, for example kangaroo steak, may be sold as food in the shops, kangaroos are not animals of a kind generally reared for food in the United Kingdom. Live kangaroos, therefore, are standard-rated.

2.5 Are pets zero-rated?

Animals that will be kept as pets can be zero-rated only if they are of a kind that is normally used for human food production. For example, rabbits, other than ornamental breeds, are always zero-rated.

2.6 Are animals kept for non-food purposes zero-rated?

Yes, if they are of a kind normally producing food for human consumption. Sheep kept mainly for their wool, or bulls used for breeding are zero-rated.

2.7 Are ‘unfit’ live food animals zero-rated?

No. Animals which are removed from the human food chain because they are no longer fit for human consumption, for example because of disease, are standard-rated.

2.8 Are embryos, eggs and semen for breeding zero-rated?

Embryos of species which are normally used for human food may be zero-rated if they are to be used for breeding.

Anything below the embryo stage is standard-rated.

Eggs and fish roes which are normally used for food for human consumption and are fit for such use are always zero-rated.

3. Birds and fish

3.1 Birds

Most breeds of chicken are zero-rated, as are game birds and ostriches. Ornamental breeds of birds are standard-rated.

The following breeds of ducks, geese and turkeys are zero-rated:

Type of Fowl


Breed


Ducks


Aylesbury, Campbell (Khaki Campbell), Indian Runner, Muscovy, Pekin and derivatives and crossbreeds of these.


Geese


Brecon Buff, Chinese Commercial, Embdem, Roman, Toulouse and derivatives and crossbreeds of these.


Turkeys


Beltsville White, British White, Broadbreasted White, Bronze (Broadbreasted Bronze), Norfolk Black and derivatives and crossbreeds of these.


3.2 Fish

Type of fish


These are zero-rated


These are standard-rated


Freshwater fish


Eels, salmon and trout and others recognised as food for human consumption


Bream, perch, pike, carp and tench


Shellfish


Oysters, mussels, whelks etc


Non food species


Fish for aquaria


-


All supplies


Fish used as bait


Fish of a kind, and fit for, human consumption


All other supplies


Ornamental fish, for example koi carp


-


All supplies


4. Food for animals

4.1 What food for animals is zero-rated?

You can zero-rate most food that is to be fed to animals (including birds, fish, crustaceans and molluscs) except:

  • canned, packaged or prepared pet food – see Sections 6 and 7;
  • packaged food for wild birds – see Section 8; and
  • biscuits and meal for cats and dogs – see paragraph 6.5.

General animal feeding stuffs are dealt with in more detail in Section 5. Products with more than one use that are sometimes used as animal food are covered in Section 9.

4.2 How do you tell if a product is intended to be fed to animals?

You cannot zero-rate animal food simply because it was zero-rated when you bought it. You must hold it out for sale as animal food. Held out for sale includes:

  • the way you label, package, display, invoice, advertise or promote the product; and
  • the heading under which the product is listed in a catalogue, web page or price list.

5. Animal feeding stuffs

5.1 What types of product are zero-rated?

You can zero-rate supplies of most commodities recognised as animal feeding stuffs by the trade and by farmers, that is:

  • straights;
  • compound feeds;
  • protein concentrates; and
  • supplements.

5.2 Are ingredients for animal feeding stuffs zero-rated?

Only if they are feeding stuffs themselves. Components having no significant nutritive value, such as flavourings, appetisers, binders and colouring agents, are standard-rated even if they are supplied as ingredients for animal feeding stuffs.

Probiotics, which act on the digestive system but have no nutritional value in themselves, are always standard-rated.

5.3 Are nutritional supplements zero-rated?

Nutritional supplements for animals are zero-rated, irrespective of whether they will be added to normal feed or given separately. This includes:

  • grit (soluble or insoluble) for poultry or game;
  • mineral blocks, mixes and licks; and
  • supplements and protein concentrates.

Supplements designed specifically for pet species, or which are held out for sale for pets are standard-rated.

5.4 How is a product with more than one use treated?

This depends on how it is held out for sale – see paragraph 4.2. Products that are zero-rated when sold as animal food are standard-rated when sold for:

  • pets, subject to Section 6;
  • wild birds – see Section 8;
  • bait (unless it is food also of a kind fit for human consumption); or
  • non-food use such as bedding or nesting materials or for packaging or thatching roofs.

Section 9 also contains information on products with more than one use.

6. Pet food

6.1 What is the liability of pet food?

Any animal food which is:

  • biscuit or meal for cats and dogs – see paragraph 6.5; or
  • specially prepared for a pet species – see paragraphs 7.3 and 7.4; or
  • canned or packaged as pet food – see paragraph 7.2; or
  • held out for sale as pet food,

is standard-rated.

Fresh, frozen or chilled meat and fish products, for dogs or dogs and cats which:

  • has not undergone any preparation other than mincing or dicing; and
  • is not held out for sale as pet food,

is zero-rated whether or not it is packaged.

6.2 What animals are pet species?

These animals are pet species:

  • cage birds;
  • cats;
  • dogs (except working dogs – see paragraph 6.4);
  • ferrets;
  • goldfish, aquarium fish and pond fish;
  • guinea pigs; and
  • hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice (except rats and mice bred specifically as laboratory animals).

6.3 Non-pet species kept as pets

Some animals that are not pet species may be kept as pets, such as:

  • chickens;
  • horses and ponies;
  • rabbits;
  • reptiles; and
  • sheep.

Their food can be zero-rated unless it is packaged or held out for sale in a way that shows it is intended for a pet.

6.4 Food for working dogs

A product which is claimed as being suitable for all breeds, size and age of dog is standard-rated.

If a specially formulated food is held out for sale exclusively for working dogs it will come within the scope of the VAT relief – unless it is biscuit or meal.

Therefore:

Dog food is standard-rated if it is, for example, for...


Dog food (other than biscuit or meal) is zero-rated if it is exclusively for…


sheepdog breeds - Old English, German shepherd, Collie etc


working sheep dogs of any breed


Labradors, Pointers, Retrievers, etc


dogs trained and used as gun dogs


Greyhounds


racing greyhounds


6.5 Biscuit and meal for cats and dogs

All biscuit and meal for cats and dogs is standard-rated.

The terms ‘biscuit’ and ‘meal’ mean dry products either:

  • coarsely ground basic commodities; or
  • baked products consisting predominantly of cereal and fat and not providing all the nutrients required by the animal.

7. Canned, packaged and prepared pet food

7.1 What is the significance of ‘canned, packaged and prepared’?

You must standard-rate canned, packaged or prepared products that are held out for sale as pet food – see paragraph 6.1.

7.2 What do ‘canned’ and ‘packaged’ mean?

Canned or packaged means pre-packed for retail sale in any can, sealed bag, carton or other container of 12.5 kilograms or less.

If you simply put loose produce in a plain paper or polythene bag at the point of sale, it is not ‘packaged’. This applies whether the bag is filled after your customer has bought it, or ahead of time in anticipation of sale.

7.3 What does ‘prepared’ as a pet food mean?

Prepared means having undergone any of the processes listed in paragraphs 7.4 or 7.5 or similar processes.

7.4 Processes that specialise a product as ‘pet food’

Products, other than food for working dogs - see paragraph 6.4, and food for human consumption, which have undergone any of the following processes, are pet food and are standard-rated however they are held out for sale:

  • the addition of colouring, flavouring, preservative or gelling agents, for example sodium metabisulphite;
  • the mixing or blending of ingredients to meet specific nutritional requirements of a pet species (for example, blending a mix of cereal products specifically for hamsters);
  • the cooking of meats or meat products; or
  • the mixing or blending of four or more meats, fish or fish and meat products.

7.5 Other ‘animal food’ processes

Products which have undergone any of these processes are animal food but are standard-rated only if they are packaged or held out for sale as pet food:

  • mixing or blending of different ingredients (other than those described in paragraph 7.4);
  • washing or polishing;
  • cooking (except meat or meat products – see paragraph 7.4);
  • mincing, dicing and similar processes (except meat for dogs – see paragraph 6.1); or
  • inclusion of additives.

8. Bird food

8.1 How do I decide which bird foods are zero-rated?

The liability of bird food can depend on:

  • the type of bird it is formulated for; and/or
  • the type of bird it is sold for; and
  • how it is packaged.

8.2 Cage birds

Cage birds, for example budgerigars, finches and parrots, are pets and therefore their food will be standard-rated if it has been:

  • prepared, for example special mixes and seeds compressed into blocks; or
  • packaged – see Section 7. This includes packaged canary seed, millet sprays or seed and sunflower seed.

8.3 Poultry and game birds

All food for poultry and game birds is zero-rated. This includes pigeon grit and pigeon food unless it contains ingredients similar to food for cage birds – see paragraph 8.2.

8.4 Wild birds, other than poultry or game

Any food which is both packaged and held out for sale for feeding to wild birds is standard-rated. As well as ordinary retail packages – see paragraph 7.2, special packs, for example, ‘bird nets’ of foods such as peanuts designed for hanging from a tree or bird table, are standard-rated.

Special mixes of foods for wild birds are zero-rated provided they are not packaged for retail sale – see paragraph 7.2.

8.5 Peanuts and other straights

Peanuts and other straights such as sunflower seeds will be standard-rated if they are both:

  • packaged – see paragraph 7.2; and
  • held out for sale as pet or wild bird food – see paragraph 4.2.

9. Commodities sometimes used as animal feed

9.1 Meat, offal and similar abattoir products

Most meat, offal and similar products from abattoirs which are for use in animal feeds are zero-rated.

Abattoir products are standard-rated if they:

  • are held out for sale for a non-feeding purpose for example blood for fertiliser (normally recognisable by declaration of nitrogen/phosphoric acid content);
  • are used solely for a non-feeding purpose, for example hair, horns, hoofs, manure;
  • are held out for sale as pet food and are packaged or prepared – see Sections 6 and 7;
  • have undergone some further preparation beyond mincing and dicing, which would specialise the products to the pet food market – see paragraph 7.4; or
  • are used exclusively in the preparation of pharmaceutical products, for example gall bags, glands, ovaries, and placenta.

Greaves supplied in pieces of a size suitable for feeding to pets are also standard-rated.

9.2 Dead animals

Dead mice, rats and day old chicks sold for feeding to ‘exotic’ pets such as reptiles may be zero-rated unless they are specifically prepared or canned or otherwise packaged as pet food.

9.3 Oils and fats

Oils and fats (including tallow’s) of a kind suitable for use in animal feeding stuffs are zero-rated unless:

  • they require further processing before becoming suitable for inclusion in animal feeds; or
  • they are held out for sale for a non-feed purpose.

Waste oil from fish and chip shops etc. generally requires processing before it can be used as an animal feed ingredient, and is therefore usually standard-rated. However, a need only for sieving, decanting or heating does not disqualify the oil from zero-rating.

9.4 Medicinal products and feeding stuffs containing medicines

Medicines are not covered by the zero-rate even where they are administered in an animal’s feed.

Some feeding stuffs incorporate medicines and the VAT liability is determined by the basic nature of the product. A product is zero-rated only if the addition of medicinal substances does not alter the essential nature of the product as a feeding stuff. As a general guideline, a product is standard-rated if it is the subject of a product licence or marketing authorisation issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Veterinary medicines supplied to certain charities may be eligible for zero-rating under a different relief – see Notice 701/1 Charities.

9.5 Straw

Under an agreement with the main trade associations, ‘held out for sale for non food use’ includes supplies to customers known to be:

  • market gardeners or other horticultural concerns which will obviously be buying the straw for use as composting material; or
  • industrial packers or other non-agricultural businesses (such as a brickworks) where the straw will obviously be used as packing material.

Supplies to these customers will be standard-rated.

9.6 Grass and grazing rights

If you supply grazing rights for horses, sheep or any other grazing animals the supply is zero-rated as animal feed. However, where grazing or other food forms part of a supply of care of an animal or group of animals, see Section 10.

9.7 Examples of commodities usually zero-rated

Unless they are:

(a) sold for a non-food purpose; or

(b) held out for sale as packaged or prepared pet food; or

(c) packaged as food for wild birds;

the following are zero-rated:

  • cereal and cereal by-products including bran, sharps and similar residues;
  • feed blocks;
  • fish meal and fish residue meal;
  • forage crops;
  • ground oyster shell;
  • hay and straw – see paragraph 9.5;
  • hay and straw molasses;
  • oilseed residue (except castor oil);
  • peanuts;
  • rabbit food;
  • specialised diets formulated specifically for laboratory animals; and
  • specialised diets formulated specifically for racing greyhounds (other than biscuit or meal).

9.8 Examples of commodities usually standard-rated

  • Drugs, but see paragraph 9.4;
  • single chemicals and minerals, other than salt, even when fed direct to animals;
  • thatching material (for example Norfolk reed, wheat reed, or straw reed); and
  • urea (unless specifically held out for sale for animal feeding purposes).

10. Livery and other care packages

10.1 Keep of animals

The supply of the keep of animals is generally standard-rated, but see paragraph 10.3. Even if you supply animal feed as part of the service of care, the full consideration for your service is standard-rated. The feed element cannot be treated as a separate zero-rated supply.

10.2 Stabling

If you allow an owner exclusive use of stabling (that is you allocate all or an identifiable part of the stabling for the sole use of his animals) this is either an exempt supply of a right over land or standard-rated if you exercise the ‘option to tax’ – see Notice 742 Land and property.

You may zero-rate separate supplies of feed (either as general feed or in the form of grazing rights) only when no element of care is supplied.

10.3 Livery services

These are services provided for horses in a stable that go beyond the right to occupy the stable.

They may include:

  • feeding or turning the animal out to graze;
  • mucking out, spreading straw or other bedding;
  • worming and clipping;
  • grooming and plaiting; or
  • taking on any responsibility for the welfare of the animal, including arranging for veterinary treatment,

but not clearly identifiable separate supplies such as veterinary services.

You must standard-rate the supply of livery services, including any food provided, unless the stabling is an exempt right over land – see paragraph 10.2 – which you have not opted to tax.

If the supply of stabling is a right over land and you have not opted to tax it, the whole livery package is exempt unless it is provided by a special purpose stable. Livery packages provided by special purpose stables (such as race horse trainers, stud farms and stables involved in schooling horses or breaking them in) are standard rated.

Your rights and obligations

Your Charter explains what you can expect from us and what we can expect from you. For more information go to Your Charter.

Do you have any comments or suggestions?

If you have any comments or suggestions to make about this notice, please write to:

HM Revenue & Customs
VAT Liability Policy Team
VAT Products and Processes
100 Parliament Street
LONDON
SW1A 2BQ

Please note this address is not for general enquiries.

For your general enquiries please phone our Helpline on 0845 010 9000.

Putting things right

If you are unhappy with our service, please contact the person or office you have been dealing with. They will try to put things right. If you are still unhappy, they will tell you how to complain.

If you want to know more about making a complaint go to hmrc.gov.uk and under quick links, select Complaints.

How we use your information

HM Revenue & Customs is a Data Controller under the Data Protection Act 1998. We hold information for the purposes specified in our notification to the Information Commissioner, including the assessment and collection of tax and duties, the payment of benefits and the prevention and detection of crime, and may use this information for any of them.

We may get information about you from others, or we may give information to them. If we do, it will only be as the law permits to:

  • check the accuracy of information
  • prevent or detect crime
  • protect public funds.

We may check information we receive about you with what is already in our records. This can include information provided by you, as well as by others, such as other government departments or agencies and overseas tax and customs authorities. We will not give information to anyone outside HM Revenue & Customs unless the law permits us to do so. For more information go to hmrc.gov.uk and look for Data Protection Act within the Search facility.

Download options

This document is available in the following formats

Please be aware that our PDF, Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents will open in a new window.

Download free viewers for all formats >>

$START-DATA$ title=Animals and animal food^ summary=VAT Notice 701/15: Read this notice if you are a farmer, animal breeder, livestock market animal feed manufacturer, pet food owner, owner of stable kennels and other establishments.^ doctype=PublicNotice^ date=09-Dec-2011^ author=KD6030855^ $END-DATA$
content tools
FAQ's

See the VAT FAQs if you have any queries.

Glossary

Don't understand some of our terms ?

Find the answers in our Glossary