Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one the institutions to join the scheme since the criteria were broadened

Free museums encouraged to join VAT refund scheme

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 23.05.2018
Scheme has reopened for applications until 2 November
Eligible museums and galleries that offer free entry are being encouraged to apply to join the VAT refund scheme, which reopened to new applicants across the UK this month.

The scheme allows Accredited institutions to claim back VAT incurred on most of the goods and services they purchase in order to grant free rights of admission, including acquisitions, storage, maintenance, digital resources and marketing.

It was broadened in 2016 to include non-national and non-university museums for the first time.

To be eligible for the scheme, museums or galleries must be open to the general public for at least 30 hours per week; offer free entry without prior appointment; hold collections in a purpose-built building; and display details of free entry and opening hours on their website.

Newly eligible museums are required to complete a strategic business case as part of the application process, including information on their Accredited status, visitor figures, and education programmes and community engagement work.

Several museums and galleries have joined the scheme since the criteria were extended, including Burns House Museum in Mauchline, Scotland, Glasgow Women’s Library, Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, and the Design Museum in London.

The Museums Association’s (MA) policy officer, Alistair Brown said: “The MA is really pleased to see this scheme opened up again this year. Accredited museums that provide free entry are eligible for the VAT refund, so the potential benefit to the sector is huge. We’d really encourage all eligible museums to make an application.”

The deadline for applications is 2 November 2018. Application forms should be requested by emailing VAT33A@culture.gov.uk.

Links and downloads

Section 33A VAT Refund Scheme further information