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Sat, 21 Jul 2001
Douglas Campbell FCA, CertMgmt(Open), MICFM(Cert), Executive Director
The Disabled Drivers' Association has kindluy provided the following important information which disabled drivers may freely download:-

VAT Relief on Motor vehicles adapted for disabled people

On 1 April 2001 the law was changed to allow some disabled people to purchase certain vehicles at the zero rate of VAT. As 17½% VAT is added to the price, this is normally equivalent to a price reduction of 15%.

This information is provided for guidance only. It has no legal standing. Only the regulations and guidance published by HM Customs & Excise and the relevant legislation have legal status. If in doubt seek advice from HM Customs & Excise or a solicitor or qualified accountant with relevant specialist knowledge. The authors, publishers and distributors of this information sheet take no responsibility for any action taken, or not taken, or any loss suffered, or any liability incurred under civil or criminal law as a direct or indirect result of the information provided.

This Information Sheet is aimed at disabled people buying, maintaining and repairing adapted motor vehicles. It is not aimed at suppliers of vehicles or other categories of buyer who may be entitled to VAT relief under the relevant regulations.

Who qualifies?

·A wheelchair user
For the purposes of this relief a wheelchair user is anyone who uses a wheelchair (electrically powered or otherwise) in order to be mobile.

A person who only occasionally uses a wheelchair, for example, when visiting a shopping centre or garden, or someone who uses a wheelchair temporarily, for example, because they have a broken leg, is not considered to normally use a wheelchair.

A mobility scooter is considered by HM Customs & Excise to be a form of low-powered motorcycle and does not fall within their definition of a wheelchair. This means that the relief from VAT does not apply to a disabled person who normally uses a mobility scooter.

·A stretcher user
For the purposes of this relief a wheelchair user is anyone who is usually carried on a stretcher.

What vehicles qualify?

To qualify the vehicle must -

·be designed or substantially and permanently adapted [explained below] for the carriage of a disabled person who normally uses a wheelchair or stretcher; and

·have a carrying capacity of no more than 12 people; and

·be supplied to a wheelchair or stretcher user for their domestic or personal use [explained below].

The disabled person does not need to remain in the wheelchair or on the stretcher. They may travel in any of the seats.

What adaptations are required?

A vehicle that is substantially and permanently adapted for use by a person who normally uses a wheelchair or stretcher will qualify if adapted -

·to allow the wheelchair/stretcher user to enter and travel in the vehicle while seated in the wheelchair or on the stretcher; or

·to allow the wheelchair/stretcher user to enter or leave the vehicle; or

·to enable a wheelchair/stretcher user to drive the vehicle; or

·to allow a wheelchair to be carried on or in the vehicle.

The following are examples of different kinds of adaptations which may be made to enable a wheelchair or stretcher user to enter, drive or travel in a qualifying vehicle -

·a swivel seat;

·a hoist to lift a wheelchair into or onto the vehicle;

·a box for the wheelchair which is fitted to the top or the back of the vehicle;

·adaptations which enable a wheelchair user to drive the vehicle, such as a push/pull brake and accelerator, hand controls or other aids that operate the primary driving controls;

·infra-red control unit that operates the secondary controls.

This is not an exhaustive list.

Such adaptations should generally be welded or bolted onto the vehicle in order to meet the requirement that they be permanent.

The following are examples of adaptations which do not make the vehicle eligible for VAT relief -

·the fitting of a roof rack;

·the attachment of a trailer to the back of a vehicle;

·automatic transmission.

What is domestic or personal use?

To qualify for the relief the adapted vehicle must be for domestic or personal use and not be used for commercial or business purposes. This means that vehicles owned and run by a business do not qualify for the VAT relief regardless of who uses them or how they have been adapted.

Disabled people who have purchased adapted vehicles at the zero rate may use these vehicles in their work capacity where this is incidental to their main use as a private vehicle. However, VAT relief is not available for an adapted vehicle that a disabled person intends to use for business purposes, such as a vehicle that is to be used as a taxi.

The Big Problem (so be careful)

The adaptations must be done before the vehicle is supplied to the customer. This means that the adaptation work must be invoiced to the customer on the same invoice as the supply of the vehicle.

In the past disabled people have paid for the car and then made a separate arrangement with the specialist conversion company to do the adaptations. This will not work in future unless you are prepared to give up the new VAT relief.

Ideally you should be able to arrange for your usual conversion specialist to do the work to your specification and under your supervision as usual, but for this to be invoiced to the car dealer supplying the vehicle. This does mean the work has to be done before the dealer issues the car invoice.

Hopefully dealers will co-operate with this arrangement. If the dealer you approach will not agree shop around for another dealer. If you are asked for a larger deposit because of this arrangement do remember that dealers have gone out of business in the past and you could lose your deposit. If possible pay the deposit using a personal credit card (not a debit card or charge card) as this may give extra protection under consumer credit law.

What about personal imports?

The same rules apply and the VAT relief can be obtained.

Subsequent repairs and maintenance

The repair and maintenance of the adapted vehicle also qualifies for the VAT zero rate. This only applies if the original vehicle qualified for the relief.

Vehicles purchased before 1 April 2001 do not qualify in this way unless they were supplied under the old more restrictive rules for VAT zero rate.


You will have to complete a declaration provided by the dealer. Do make sure that it is correct in every respect and that all the blanks have been filled in before signing. Obtain a copy and keep it with the invoice.


The new arrangements make no changes with regard to vehicles obtained under the Motability contract hire [lease] scheme. No VAT has been charged on this scheme for many years.

Vehicles purchased using hire purchase from Motability Finance Limited, or any other finance company, will be eligible for the VAT zero rate as set out here.

Vehicle hire

Hire charges for a qualifying vehicle to a qualifying person will also be eligible for the VAT zero rate.

Further advice

The specialist organisations of disabled motorists [see below] provide a free advice service for their members. They will do their best to answer any queries and sort out any problems.

Advice is available from local offices of HM Customs & Excise. They can also provide a copy of "VAT Information Sheet 07/01 - June 2001". This can also be obtained from their website at

This Information Sheet has been jointly produced and published by -

The Disabled Drivers' Association

National Headquarters
NR16 1EX

Phone08700 770 3333
Fax01508 488173

The Disabled Drivers' Motor Club

23 Cottingham Way
NN14 4PL

Phone01832 734724
Fax01832 733816


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