In March 1994, HM Customs and Excise ruled that TENS/CES machines are zero rated for VAT when purchased by a “handicapped person” for domestic or personal use. A “handicapped person” is defined in law to mean chronically sick or disabled. It covers anyone who is blind, deaf or dumb, or who is substantially and permanently handicapped by illness, injury or congenital deformity.
Therefore if your medical condition is long term and you are suffering chronic pain which requires you to use TENS/CES for pain relief, then you are eligible for the supply of such equipment free of VAT.
The same rules apply to TENS/CES consumables such as electrodes and leads/wires which are supplied as part of the TENS/CES treatment. However, spare batteries and battery chargers are not manufactured solely for use by handicapped persons, so these items are not eligible for zero rating, regardless of who they are supplied to.
Sometimes TENS/CES machines are supplied for use by people suffering short term pain such as sports injury or childbirth. Such people are not regarded as “handicapped” for VAT purposes, and TENS/CES machines supplied in these and similar circumstances continue to be taxable at the standard rate.
The VAT declaration
If you are eligible, it is necessary because of Customs & Excise rules, that you fully complete and sign a VAT declaration every time you place an order for TENS/CES equipment or consumables. See attached.
Group 14 of the Value Added Tax Act 1983 is the section which covers zero rating of medical equipment and aids for the handicapped. It states that medical or surgical appliances designed solely for the relief of a severe abnormality or severe injuries are zero rated for VAT.
Type of illness – this must be the specific illness as diagnosed by your doctor. “Back pain” or “headache” for example is not specific enough to be acceptable.
Please be aware that there are severe penalties for making a false declaration. If you are in any doubt about your eligibility, you should get advice from your local VAT office before signing the VAT declaration.
Please be aware that The Microcurrent Site Ltd is unable to give any advice regarding the eligibility for VAT relief. If you are in any doubt as to whether you are eligible to receive goods or services zero-rated for VAT you should consult Notice 701/7 VAT reliefs for disabled people or contact the National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 before signing the declaration. There are severe penalties for making a false declaration.