Mastectomy bra’s and VAT rules

Monday, June 6th 2016

At ESSHOP we would love to be able to NOT charge the extra 20% VAT for the post-surgical garments, and in particular the support bra’s that are ordered by women after surgery for breast cancer or breast reconstruction.  We recently received some criticism from a UK lady who was looking to purchase a post-surgical Design Veronique bra, the Josephine #460 after her mastectomy and was surprised and rather annoyed to find that this garment was still subject to VAT.  As a result, we have looked into the VAT ruling on surgical bra’s and why some bra’s, including our own Marianna style and several of those from other companies, such as Marks & Spencer and Nicola Jayne, are VAT exempt.  The ruling states that the device or product ( in this case the surgical support bra) must be designed for a specific purpose ONLY and that is stated in the text.  The bra’s that are sold as post-mastectomy bra’s – ALL feature breast pockets, designed to hold external breast prosthesis.  These bra’s then qualify for a VAT exemption ruling.  The Design Veronique bra’s, although they are often ideal for women that have undergone a surgical procedure for breast removal, whether that is mastectomy, or lumpectomy – are also worn as support bra’s for women that have undergone other breast procedures, such as a breast reduction or mastopexy – and DO NOT have the additional breast cup pockets that would distinguish them for Mastectomy purpose only. 

Unfortunately for British women, breast reduction is now considered a “cosmetic procedure” and is not offered on the NHS and is not VAT free. 

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