Whether you’ve just become disabled yourself, or you’re caring for someone with a disability, if you’ve recently found yourself in the position of having to purchase specially designed or adapted products, you may be wondering whether you’re entitled to financial help from the Government. The good news is, that as long as the products you plan to purchase meet certain criteria, there is significant financial help available throughout the UK.

Let’s start with the products and services that are available for people with a disability. These include items such as wheelchairs, adjustable beds, stair lifts, specially adapted mobility vehicles plus adaptations to your home, including widening of doors, ramps, toilets and bathrooms. It also includes such things as medication and certain kinds of sight aids, although not glasses or contact lenses.

How do I quality for disability VAT exemption?

While the list above may seem comprehensive, as with all things it’s not totally straightforward. The guidelines are quite strict as to what is classed as a disability or long-term illness. You need to make sure that your particular condition qualifies to get VAT exempt products, or you’ll be left paying the full amount. However there is a set of definitive criteria for working out whether you quality for disabled VAT exemption.

  • You have a terminal illness
  • You suffer from a mental or physical impairment that affects your ability to carry out daily tasks.
  • You have a chronic condition or sickness

Unfortunately, merely being elderly does not qualify you for VAT exemption, unless you meet the criteria above.

Submitting your disability information

You must apply for your VAT exemption in writing to ensure that your submission is legal and binding, and you’ll usually receive the appropriate forms from the suppliers of the product or service you’re planning to buy. Of course, it stands to reason that the details you give must be honest as you run the risk of being prosecuted for fraud if it’s found that any information you have given is not accurate.

What help can I get to install my mobility products?

If you don’t have anyone to help you to make adaptations to your home, or if you can’t afford to do it yourself, you can apply to your local council. Check out for more information.

Can I buy products from outside the UK?

If you’ve sourced products from outside the UK, there is a disability VAT exemption guideline that may prove useful, which states that importing goods from abroad can also be VAT exempt, so long as these are for personal or domestic use only. Some freight services make this easier by ensuring that the necessary disability information – “Goods for Disabled People: Relief Claimed”, is clearly displayed on the parcel.

If you’re bringing items through customs yourself, simply declare them at the red channel as normal. If you’re planning to bring them into the country via another method, you will need to contact the National Import Reliefs Unit on 028 6634 4557 for further advice.

Many people are unaware that such an exemption exists, so it always makes sense to ask before you purchase any products or services, whether it’s an adaptation for your home in the form of a widened doorway or a walk-in shower room.