Can you claim VAT on safety boots?

Workboots on plinth against red background

Let’s face it, navigating the world of tax law can be tricky. Especially if you’re buying a wide range of products – you can’t expect to be a specialist in everything.

To help you clarify what you can and can’t claim for, we’ve put together this article outlining the conditions safety boots need to meet in order to be eligible for VAT reimbursement.

When can I claim for VAT on safety boots?

If you’re a sole trader or employee buying boots for industrial use, you’re exempt from paying VAT on safety boots providing they meet the legal requirements we’ll outline below.

If you’re a business bulk buying boots for employees you’ll be required by law to pay the standard 20% tax. This can then be reclaimed in the usual way. Again, providing the boots meet government-set specifications.

The requirements safety boots need to meet in order for you to claim VAT

Height specifications

In order to qualify as a safety boot, and thus be eligible for VAT reimbursement, your boots need to reach a minimum height of 90mm, measured vertically from the insole at the back of the shoe. 

This requirement is set by the British Standards agency.

British and European standards

The boots will also need to be manufactured to meet both British and European standards. 

Below is a list of EN (European standards) and BS (British standards) codes to look for on safety boot purchases, taken from

  • EN 345:1992 and BS EN 345:1993 – Safety footwear for professional use
  • EN 346:1992 and BS EN 346:1993 – Protective footwear for professional use
  • BS 4676:1983 – Gaiters and footwear for protection against burns and impact risks in foundries
  • BS 1870: Part 1:1988 – Safety footwear other than all-rubber and all-plastics moulded types
  • BS 1870: Part 2:1976 – Safety footwear – lined rubber boots
  • BS 1870: Part 3:1981 – Safety footwear – polyvinyl chloride moulded safety footwear.

You should also look for the relevant CE and British standard “kitemark” markings.

Industrial use only

Finally, your boots must be for industrial use only. For example, motorcycle boots may meet the height requirements, but, since they’re not manufactured for use in an industrial environment, they won’t qualify for VAT reimbursement.

It’s also worth noting here that safety shoes and safety trainers are not eligible for zero-VAT or VAT reimbursement. 

Any safety shoe that does not meet the specified height requirements detailed above would likely fall into this category. For this reason, you should consider procuring boots over shoes or trainers if you’d like to claim the VAT back.

For more information on which PPE items are eligible for VAT reimbursement, visit for a full list which also details the criteria items need to meet for eligibility. Alternatively, follow this link to explore our own range of safety boots which are eligible for VAT reimbursement.