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Catering (see definition at Food) and accommodation is exempt if it is

  • provided by a College or another educational establishment to the University, and
  • the University will use the supplies for an educational conference or teaching, and
  • the catering/accommodation is for the direct use of the student or attendee.

The exemption would not apply where the accommodation is provided by a body that is not a College, even if it is for use by students, or where the use is not by students. The following examples will give you some idea of when educational items can be exempted and when VAT will be charged for them.

  1. If you held a staff meeting in a college it would be standard rated as the meeting is not for the direct use of students.
  2. If you organise a conference and the conference provider bills you for rooms, food including wine for the delegates, and charges you for videoing the event.

a. If the conference is at a College then:

i. The rooms and the food would be exempt from VAT as they are for the direct use of the students

ii. The wine would be VATable as alcohol is always standard rate.

iii. The videoing would also be charged at the standard rate of VAT, as it is not for the direct use of the delegates.

b. If the above conference was not booked with a College but through a College subsidiary company or a private company then the whole charge would be standard rated.

Colleges sometimes ask for a certificate to be signed to confirm the University's 'eligible body' status and that the purchases are for the students in association with a conference, before agreeing to exempt the supply.

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