Revenue Information Note

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1. General

The supply of footwear other than certain children’s personal footwear (see paragraphs 3 to 5 below), is chargeable to VAT at the standard rate. Paragraph (xix) of Second Schedule to the VAT Act 1972 (amended) refers.

2. Meaning of footwear for VAT purposes

The term ‘footwear’, for VAT purposes, should be understood as meaning shoes, boots, slippers etc. including fur footwear but not socks, stockings etc.. Neither does the term include roller blades, roller skates and the like.

3. Meaning of children’s personal footwear

VAT law provides that the zero rate applies to articles of children’s personal footwear of sizes which do not exceed the average foot size appropriate to children under 11 years of age, which are described, labelled, marked or marketed on the basis of age or size.

It is therefore important to note that the legal basis for the relief of VAT of certain children’s footwear requires that the footwear in question is both:-

  • designed specifically for the use of children and
  • of a size no larger than the average size applicable to children under 11 years of age.

In the practical administration of the tax, the supply of baby and infant footwear, and footwear which has been specifically designed for children in sizes up to and including size 5½ (38 continental or other equivalent) qualifies for the zero rate.

Children’s footwear, the sizes of which exceed 5½ (38 continental or other equivalent) and adult’s footwear, irrespective of size is taxable at the standard rate.

4. Certain styles common to children and adults

It is accepted that there may be a difficulty in respect of a small number of styles of shoes and boots which are not designed as either adults’ or children’s footwear, and which are manufactured in the full range of sizes from the smallest children’s size* to large adult sizes. Revenue are prepared, concessionally, to accept that the zero rate may apply to sizes up to and including size 5½ for these specific styles.

Footwear ranges not starting at the smallest children’s size*, e.g. ranges starting at large size 1 or 2, are taxable at the standard rate in all sizes unless it can be shown that they were designed for the use of children, in which case the size 5½ cut-off will apply.

5. Sports leisure footwear (trainers)

Sports leisure footwear (trainer type footwear) is normally designed in three separate ranges, i.e. for men, for women, and for children. Accordingly, men’s and women’s ranges are taxable in all sizes and children’s ranges are zero-rated (except for any sizes exceeding 5½). Where a particular range of such footwear is available in a single style common to adults and children, and where it is also available in the full range of sizes from smallest children’s size* to large adult sizes, then it may also benefit from the concession outlined at paragraph 5 above.

*Smallest to be taken as the usual smallest size in non-infant children’s ranges.

Articles of children’s personal footwear which are not described, labelled, marked or marketed on the basis of age or size do not qualify for the zero rate.

6. Sports footwear

Revenue are prepared to continue with their concessional treatment of football boots and other sports footwear as being articles of ‘personal footwear’ and they therefore may benefit from the concession outlined at paragraph 5 above. However roller blades, roller-skates, etc. will continue to be taxable at the standard rate in all sizes.

7. Orthopaedic footwear

The zero rate of VAT applies to the supply of orthopaedic footwear specially made or specially adapted for a particular patient on the basis of a prescription issued by a medical doctor.

8. Second-hand footwear

Second-hand footwear is liable at the same rate as it would be if new, i.e. zero or the standard rate.

9. Hire of footwear

The hiring of footwear is a service and taxable at the standard rate of VAT irrespective of the type of footwear involved.

10. Repair of footwear

The repair of footwear is taxable at the reduced rate.

11. Imports and EU acquisitions of footwear

Imports and EU intra-Community acquisitions of footwear are taxable on resale at the zero or the standard rates, as appropriate. EU intra-Community acquisitions must be shown correctly on VAT returns.

12. Further information

Enquiries regarding any issue contained in this Information Leaflet should be addressed to the Revenue District responsible for the taxpayer’s affairs. Contact details for all Revenue Districts can be found on the Revenue website at Contact Details

This leaflet is issued by:

VAT Interpretation Branch,
Indirect Taxes Division,
Dublin Castle.

January 2010