Guidelines by Authorities – temporary VAT exemption – essential foods – Portugal

© Clemens Behr

The Portuguese Tax Authorities have published guidelines in respect of the temporary VAT exemption on essential foods through in Generic Ruling no. 30257_2023. The guidelines are complemented by FAQs.

The guidelines answer some relevant questions, from which we highlight:

1. How do we classify each product?

You use the same conditions, requirements and administrative doctrine used to apply the reduced VAT rate before the temporary exemption was in force to the same products.

2. Is the exemption applicable to intra-community acquisitions?


3. What is covered by “Bread”?

All types of bread defined in article 3 of Order n. 52/2015, of 26 February.

What is excluded? 

– breadcrumbs;

– alike bread products or fine bakery wares;

– intermediate products or products in the course of manufacture, namely “frozen pre-cooked bread”, “frozen bread dough” or “other semi-manufactured dough”.

4. What is covered in “Potatoes” category?

Covers any type of potato (e.g: white, purple, sweet), whole or cut.

What is excluded?

Dried or dehydrated potatoes, or frozen potatoes, even if previously cooked.

5. What is excluded from “Rice” ?

Smoked or flavored rice.

6. What is excluded from “Vegetables and horticultural products” and “Legumes in dried state” categories?

Preserves (e.g.: pickles).

7. What is excluded from “Cow milk”?

Concentrated, evaporated, condensed, lumped or granulated milk; cream; chocolate milk, flavored, vitaminised or enriched.

8. What is covered by “Yogurts or fermented milks”?

Dairy products regulated by Order n.º 742/92, of July 24. Yogurts or natural fermented milks, natural, flavored or with pieces.

9. What is covered by “Cheeses”?

All types of cheese that fall within the concept of dairy products.

10. What is excluded from “Pork, chicken, turkey or beef”?

Canned meat or meat preparations, which are subject to VAT at the standard rate (23%).

11. What is excluded from “Chicken eggs” category?

Egg parts, egg derivatives or prepared eggs (e.g. pasteurized egg white, boiled egg).

12. What is covered by “Canned tuna”?

Only tuna canned in water, olive oil or oil, excluding for example canned tuna with tomato or spices.

13. What is covered by “Olive oil”?

Products with the legal denomination “extra virgin olive oil”, “virgin olive oil” or “olive oil – composed of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils.

14. What is covered by “Directly edible vegetable oils and mixtures thereof (edible oils)”?

Blend of two or more oils from those referred to in paragraph 3 of Article 2 of Decree-Law No. 106/2005, of 29 June, refined singly or together, except olive oil.

Includes corn, sunflower and sesame oils.

15. What is covered by “Vegetable-based beverages and yogurts” and “produced from nuts, cereals or preparations of cereals, fruit, vegetables or cereal products”?

The application of the exemption to these products follows criteria for the application of the reduced rate set out in Generic Ruling no. 30254 of 5 January 2023 for indent 1.4.9  List I annex to the VAT Code.

16. What is covered by “Butter”?

Milk fat.

What is excluded? 

E.g.: peanut butter or cocoa butter.

17. What is covered by “Dietary products for enteral nutrition and gluten-free products for coeliac patients?”

Dietary products for enteral nutrition – products referenced in Decree-Law no. 74/2010, of 21 June, on foodstuffs for special nutritional uses (article 2).

Gluten free products – products which are specially produced, prepared or processed in order to meet the special dietary needs of intolerant to gluten persons, excluding products which are gluten free by nature.

Additional notes to chargeable events and invoicing:

Chargeable event – for supply of  goods carried out between 11.04.2023 and 17.04.2023, invoiced after 17.04.2023 but within 5 working days, the temporary VAT exemption applies.


  • invoices should reference “IVA – Isenção prevista na Lei n.º 17/2023, de 14 de abril”


  • the code of exemption for invoicing software purposes is “M26 – Isenção de IVA com direito à dedução no cabaz alimentar “
BELIM CASTILHO is a Portuguese law firm specialized in taxÍcone Newsletter Pessoa

*Note: This note is informative and does not replace tax advisory to a specific case


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