You do not pay VAT on products designed and sold specifically for disabled people. This means all adaptations, installation, repair and maintenance are zero rated.
What kind of adaptations count?
Those which make it possible for you to get in and out of the vehicle, such as a swivel seat.
Those which make it possible for you to drive, such as hand controls for primary driving controls and infra red systems for secondary controls. Note that standard extras such as automatic transmission would not be enough to qualify.
Those which enable a wheelchair to be carried in the vehicle, such as a hoist. Trailers, roof or rear racks would not count as they are not vehicle adaptations.
Adaptations have to be permanent – which means in practice that they have to be welded or bolted on. Repair and maintenance to the vehicle is also zero rated. The supplier of the vehicle has to be satisfied that you qualify, and you will have to sign a form declaring your disability.
Wheelchair and stretcher users
Additionally, if you use a wheelchair or stretcher you may not have to pay VAT on the price of the car or for its repair or maintenance. To qualify you must:
Be a wheelchair user. Temporary users do not count and nor do scooter users or need to be carried in a stretcher.
The car must have been designed or substantially and permanently adapted, for the person who normally uses a wheelchair or stretcher, carry no more than 12 people and be for domestic or personal use.
Vehicles owned and run by businesses do not qualify. However you can use a qualifying adapted vehicle for work if it is incidental to its main private use.
VAT relief applies only to new cars, so if you are buying a car with the intention of having controls fitted, it may be worth your while to consider buying a new car rather than a secondhand one as you will not have to pay VAT on the car.