As Aberystwyth University is classified as an ‘eligible body, the supply of accommodation to our students is considered to be a closely related supply of education and is therefore VAT exempt. This will also apply to visitors who are using the accommodation for education related purposes, for example, on a course.

However, when we provide accommodation to visitors where they are not involved in any educational process, for example, holiday lets or overnight stays, then there is no closely related supply of education, so the supply would be standard rated.

Staff on Secondment

The supply of staff to another Institution for non teaching purposes is standard rated. If a staff member is supplied to another Institution which is a provider of exempt education, and that member of staff will be used for the direct benefit of the students i.e. teaching, then this will be an exempt supply.


If the research is being carried out for an eligible body, for example, another university, local authority, government department etc, then the supply is VAT exempt. The University will generally be unable to reclaim any VAT incurred on costs.

Where the research is carried out for a UK commercial company, then the supply is standard rated. The University will generally be able to reclaim any VAT incurred on costs.

Where the research is carried out for a non-EEC country, the supply is considered outside the scope of UK VAT. The University will generally be able to reclaim any VAT incurred on costs.

If the research is carried out for an EEC country, the supply will be zero rated. If the customer is VAT registered in their own country, then that VAT number must be quoted on the invoice. This is important for reverse VAT charge purposes.


The supply of consultancy is normally charged at the standard rate of VAT. Care must be taken in deciding if a service is research or consultancy. If in any doubt, please contact the Research Grants and Contracts Section on ext. 2257.


When deciding what rate of VAT a conference will suffer, we must consider the question of educational content. Where an event is primarily educational in purpose, and delegates are charged for the event, then the fees are exempt from VAT as a supply of education. Where the supply is made in the provision of education as above, any supplies of accommodation or catering by the eligible body organizing the conference for those attending the conference are also exempt as supplies incidental to the supply of education.

The usual definition of eligible bodies applies (i.e. Schools, Universities, Government Departments, Local Authorities etc) in this case. Groups which are organizing the conference for educational purposes may still be eligible for VAT exemption, providing that the group cannot distribute its profits, the client is charging for the event, and any surplus from the event will be used to fund further educational events. If any of these criteria are not met, the supply of facilities will be standard rated.

Where a conference has minimal or no provision for education, the exemption from VAT does not apply. The supply then becomes one of facilities, where some costs will be standard rated and some, such as room hire may be exempt.

The Room Hire element of any invoice is exempt from VAT (see below for more details). Any Equipment Hire element will be subject to VAT at the standard rate.

Room Hire

Room lettings where the supply is only the hire of the room, with no provision of special equipment, facilities, catering etc, are VAT exempt, as this is classed as a license to occupy land. If the special facilities are provided in addition to the hire of the room, then the entire charge is subject to VAT at the standard rate.


Supplies of catering to students will be vat exempt. This is because it is considered a closely related supply of education. This will also apply to meals for staff entertaining visitors for educational purposes.

Supplies of catering to non students (ie staff) will be vatable (standard rated) through non-term time dates during the summer etc as will supplies of catering for retirement functions, leaving parties etc. This is because there is no closely rated supply of education. However where vat is charged it will be possible to recover the input vat on any related purchases.

All bar sales income is vatable at the standard rate.

Sports Facilities

If a supply of sports facilities are made to University students, or an Eligible body ie a school, college university, governement department, local authority, public body, NHS trust, EFL school or a non-profit making body  then the supply is VAT exempt.

A supply of sports facilities to individuals or organisations outside the University and who are not an Eligible body would be VAT standard rated.

If a supply of a single let of sports and physical recreation facilities for a continuous period of over 24 hours to the same person, then this is VAT exempt. However, the person to whom you let the facilities must have exclusive control of them throughout the letting period.

If the individual is a Sports Centre 'member' i.e. an individual who has been granted membership for a period of not less than 3 months then the let is VAT exempt.


Photocopying charges which relate to students are VAT exempt, as are photocopying charges to staff for departmental work. Providing the charges are incurred for educational purposes, no VAT charge will apply.

The Photocopying charges of a complete book will follow the same vat liability of the original document, therefore a complete photocopy of a reference book would be zero rated.

If the photocopying charges relate to private work, then VAT will be charged at the standard rate.


Any loan or hire charges relating to zero rated books or articles, will also be zero rated. More detailed rules on books and related items can be found by following the link to the HMRC website.

Miscellaneous Income

  • Staff Car parking charge income is vatable at the standard rate.
  • Clamping charges are vatable at the standard rate.
  • Vedning machine income is normally standard rated.