In order to help businesses affected by the Coronavirus lockdown, the introduction of zero rating for certain electronic publications has been brought forward to 1 May 2020.


Books, newspapers and some other types of printed items have always been zero rated.  However, when electronic versions of documents became available the EU Commission refused to allow equal treatment with hard-copy materials for VAT purposes, and, therefore, supplies of electronic documents have been standard rated.

Recently this position has softened following court decisions and the UK was going to extend the zero rate to electronic publications on 1 December 2020.

Will all electronic documents be zero rated?

No. The zero rate will largely apply to the same categories of electronic document as it applies to printed documents.

Electronic books, booklets, brochures, leaflets, newspapers, magazines, journals etc will be zero rated but if more than half of an electronic publication is made up of advertising, audio or video content, it remains standard rated.

Audio books remain standard rated.

Electronically supplied plans and technical drawings and supplies of intellectual property (for example licence agreements) are standard rated.

E-book readers and software to access electronic publications are also standard rated.

For more details see