Reduced rate of VAT in catering

Verified 02 June 2020 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

Sales in cafes and restaurants are subject to the various reduced rates of value added tax (VAT) of 5.5% or 10%.

  • Dining establishments or outlets: traditional restaurant, fast food, brasserie, cafeteria, caterer with table service, bar, cafe, etc
  • Consumer spaces located in a performance establishment (theater, cabaret, cinema, etc.), a museum, a sports space, a shopping center, a service station, a disco, etc
  • Food stores, street and auction vendors, food markets 
  • Vending machines for beverages or foodstuffs 
  • Catering services on board trains or boats 
  • Hotel pensions and half-board, including breakfast included in the price of the night

There are several VAT rates. In order to determine the rate applicable to a food product, it must be determined whether it is sold for immediate consumption or whether it can be preserved.

Applicable rates:

  • 10% for a product sold for immediate consumption
  • 5.5% for a product packaged in containers allowing their preservation, thus a delayed consumption

The place and type (to be taken away, delivered or consumed on site) of sale are not taken into account in determining the applicable rate.

Example :

Products with a rate of 10%:

  • Unpackaged unit ice cream / immediate consumption
  • Sandwiches / salads sold with seasoning and cutlery
  • Seafood platter (open shells)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages sold in non-resealable containers
  • Products delivered for immediate consumption (pizzas, sushi, etc.)

Products with a rate of 5.5%:

  • Packaged Ice Cream / Deferred Consumption
  • Bread/ pastries and pastries
  • Seafood platter (shells not opened)
  • Non-alcoholic beverages sold for preservation (bottles, cask, bricks, etc.)
  • Prepared products at a caterer sold to take away or to deliver (except certain products: pizzas, quiches, sushi, sandwiches, etc.)

Applicable VAT rates:

  • 5,5 % for water and non-alcoholic beverages served in storage containers (bottles, cans, bricks, etc.)
  • 10 % for non-alcoholic beverages served in non-preservative containers (cups, plastic glasses, etc.)
  • 20 % for alcoholic beverages

Take-away sales of ready meals are subject to the reduced rate of 5.5%. However, the 20 % rate applies to alcoholic beverages, confectionery, composite products containing chocolate, margarines and caviar.

Where the caterer carries out sales for consumption on the spot, his service shall be subject to the reduced rate of 10 %.

If a single sale involves several VAT rates, the corresponding rate must be applied to each of the products. We're talking about breakdown of revenue.

If this is not done, the entire invoice is subject to the highest VAT rate. For example, for the unventilated sale of a sandwich accompanied by an alcoholic beverage, the VAT will be 20%.

There are several methods of breakdown accepted by the tax administration.