Sales Tax Exemptions

Virginia law allows businesses to purchase things without paying sales tax if they or their purchase meet certain criteria. A common exemption is “purchase for resale,” where you buy something with the intent of selling it to someone else. Below is a list of other sales tax exemptions. To purchase many things tax-free, you'll need to give the seller a completed exemption certificate. We’ve highlighted many of the applicable exemption certificates in the listing below. Exemption certificates can also be found in our Forms Library. Certain sales are always exempt from sales tax, and an exemption certificate isn’t required; these are also outlined below.

 A printer-friendly listing and description of Virginia's sales tax exemptions is available here.

In addition to the exemptions discussed below, consumers can purchase a wide range of items sales tax-free during our annual Sales Tax Holiday in August.

Government and Commodities Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.1.

Government Purchases
  • Things sold to federal or state governments, or their political subdivisions, are not subject to sales tax. 
  • The exemption doesn’t apply to property purchased by the Commonwealth of Virginia, then transferred to a private business. However, property acquired by the Herbert H. Bateman Advanced Shipbuilding and Carrier Integration Center, then transferred to a qualified shipbuilder, is exempt from sales tax.
  • Exemption certificate: ST-12, unless the purchase was made using certain federal government credit cards.
Public Transit Authorities
  • Items sold or leased to a transit company owned, operated or controlled by a Virginia city, town, or county, or a group of localities, (for example, GRTC in Richmond; Alexandria Transit Company in Alexandria; etc.) are not subject to sales tax.
  • Items sold or leased to a locality or localities, then transferred to a transit company they own, operate, or control, are not subject to sales tax.
Virginia Port Authority
  • Things used in a marine terminal to handle cargo, merchandise, freight, and equipment are not subject to sales tax, so long as the marine terminal is under the supervision of the Virginia Port Authority.
Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired
  • Things sold to the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired are not subject to sales tax.
Veterans Care Center Canteen
  • Items sold by the canteen at a Virginia Veterans Care Center to the center’s residents and patients are not subject to sales tax. The Veterans Care Center must be operated by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • Things sold to any of Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts are not subject to sales tax.
Government Flags
  • Government agency sales of the official flags of the United States, Virginia, and any locality are not subject to sales tax.
Election Documents
  • Materials supplied by the State Board of Elections are not subject to sales tax.
State Government Organizations
  • Items sold to a nonprofit organized to foster interstate cooperation and excellence in government, and whose members include Virginia and other states, are not subject to sales tax.
Art made by Prisoners
  • Prisoners confined to a state correctional institute may sell artwork they make themselves without collecting sales tax.
Utilities
  • The sale of electricity, natural gas, and water delivered to customers through power lines, pipes, etc. is not subject to sales tax.
Gold, Silver or Platinum Bullion or Coins
  • Sales of gold, silver, or platinum bullion, or legal tender coins are exempt from sales tax when the total price is greater than $1,000.
  • The exemption is based on the total purchase price for the entire transaction. Each coin or piece of gold, silver, or platinum does not have to individually cost more than $1,000.
Property Sold in Local Correctional Facilities
  • Items sold through a local correctional facility’s store or commissary are not subject to sales tax.
  • Prepared food sold at a local correctional facility is not subject to sales tax.

Agricultural Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.2.

Agricultural Materials and Equipment
  • Items necessary to raise crops and other agricultural products for market are not subject to sales tax.
  • Includes:
    • commercial feeds
    • seeds
    • livestock
    • agricultural chemicals
    • farm machinery
    • drugs sold to a veterinarian for use on animals being raised for market
    • drugs sold to a veterinarian for resale to a farmer to use on animals being raised for market.
  • The exemption is based upon how the item is used, not the type. For example, the purchase of a tractor is not subject to sales tax when used for agricultural production for market; it is not exempt when it is used for other functions.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-18
                                           ST-11A
    (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Commercial Watermen Materials and Equipment
  • Items commercial watermen need to harvest seafood are not subject to sales tax.
  • Includes:
    • machinery;
    • equipment;
    • fuel;
    • supplies;
    • fishing boats;
    • fishing boat motors;
    • engines;
    • parts for fishing boats, motors, and engines.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-16
Forest Product Harvesting Materials and Equipment
  • Machinery, tools, fuel, and supplies used directly in the harvesting of trees for sale, or to be used as part of another product, are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-17
Agricultural Commodity Processing
  • Crops, meat, poultry, seafood, and other agricultural products that are sold to someone who will use them to make a product that they will sell to someone else are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-11
Feed Processing Materials and Equipment
  • Materials and ingredients used directly to make feed for sale or resale are not subject to sales tax. “Making” feed includes mixing liquid ingredients.
  • Includes:
    • machinery
    • tools
    • fuel
    • supplies
    • cereal grains and other feed ingredients.
Agricultural Product Consumed by Farmers
  • Farmers don’t owe sales tax on food they grow or raise that is eaten by themselves or their families.
Agricultural Produce and Eggs Sold at Farmer’s Markets and Roadside Stands
  • Fruits, vegetables, and eggs raised and sold by individuals exclusively through farmer’s markets and roadside stands are not subject to sales tax, provided the individual’s annual income from these sales is $2,500 or less. 


 

Commercial and Industrial Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.3.

Industrial Materials for Production
  • Industrial materials sold to make things, or parts of things, that will be sold to someone else are not subject to sales tax. 
  • Machinery, tools, fuel, and supplies used to make things out of these industrial materials are also exempt from sales tax.
  • Packaging materials to ship the finished goods made from these industrial materials are also exempt from sales tax.
  • Equipment, materials, supplies and printing used directly to produce a publication are also exempt.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-11
                                           ST-11A
    (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Research and Development
  • Items purchased or used directly and exclusively in basic research or research and development in the experimental or laboratory sense are exempt from sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-11
                                           ST-11A
    (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Pollution Control Equipment and Facilities
  • Pollution control equipment and facilities, as defined in Va. Code § 58.1-3660 and certified by 1 of 4 state agencies, are not subject to sales tax.
  • Certifying agencies:
    • State Water Control Board
    • State Air Pollution Control Board
    • Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy
    • Virginia Waste Management Board
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-11
                                           ST-11A
    (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Data Center Equipment
  • Computer hardware and software purchased for use in a data center is not subject to sales tax, if the data center meets certain requirements.
  • To qualify for the exemption, the data center and its tenants must be:
    • Located in Virginia;
    • Result in a $150 million capital investment;
    • Create at least 50 new jobs that pay at least 1.5 times the average salary in the locality (25 new jobs, if the location is an enterprise zone or a locality whose average unemployment is 150% the statewide unemployment average.)
    • Enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP).
  • Exemption Certificate:  ST-11A (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Semiconductor Manufacturing
  • Cleanrooms, equipment, fuel, power, energy, and supplies used in the manufacture or processing of semiconductors are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate:  ST-11B
Semiconductor Wafers
  • Wafers used or consumed by a semiconductor manufacturer are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate:  ST-11B
Temporary Storage by Contractors
  • Items purchased by a contractor for use in another state, and temporarily stored in Virginia until being shipped to said other state, are not subject to sales tax if the contractor could have purchased the items in the other state free of sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate:  ST-11A (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Railroad Common Carriers
  • Items purchased by a public service corporation that transports freight or passengers by railway are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-20
                                           ST-11A
    (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Railroad Rolling Stock
  • Railroad cars and locomotives, when sold or leased by the manufacturer, are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-22
Ships and Vessels
  • Ships and vessels used principally in interstate or foreign commerce are not subject to sales tax.
  • Fuel and supplies used or consumed on ships and vessels that ply the high seas are not subject to sales tax, whether the ship is involved in intercoastal trade or foreign commerce.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-19
Airline Common Carriers
  • Items used by common carrier airlines, operating in intrastate, interstate, or foreign commerce, are not subject to sales tax so long as they provide scheduled service to at least 1 Virginia airport at least 1 day per week.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-20
Meals for Employees
  • Meals that restaurants and other food service providers give to their employees that are part of the employee’s wages are not subject to sales tax.
Commercial Rental Laundries
  • Companies who lease or rent textile products can purchase machinery, tools, supplies, and materials to launder these free of the sales tax.
Taxicab Parts
  • Tires, parts, meters, and dispatch radios for taxicabs sold or leased to taxicab operators are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-20
Electrostatic Duplicators
  • Copiers and other duplicators that can produce 4,000 or more impressions per hour are not subject to sales tax when purchased or leased by those engaged in the business of printing or photocopying.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-11
Natural Gas and Oil Well Materials
  • Raw materials, machinery, tools, fuel, and supplies used directly to drill for, extract, or process natural gas or oil, or to reclaim the well area, are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-11
                                           ST-11A
    (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Brewing Supplies
  • Machinery, tools, and equipment and repair parts for them; materials, supplies, and packaging materials for making beer are not subject to sales tax when purchased by a licensed brewer.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-11
Spaceport Activities
  • The sale, lease, storage, use, or distribution of any of the following are exempt from sales tax:
    • orbital or suborbital space facility
    • space propulsion system
    • space vehicle
    • satellite
    • space station
    • components of any of these
    • special fuels used for any of these 
    • items placed on board any of these.
  • Machinery and equipment used exclusively for spaceport activities and to operate and maintain launch facilities, launch equipment, payload processing facilities, and equipment are not subject to sales tax.
  • “Spaceport activities” means activities at a facility owned or operated by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority.
Aircraft Parts
  • Parts, engines and supplies are not subject to sales tax when used to repair, maintain or recondition:
    • manned or unmanned aircraft
    • avionics systems
    • aircraft engines
    • the component parts of any of these
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-20

Service Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.5.

Professional, Insurance or Personal Services
  • Sales of inconsequential items for which no separate charge is made that are part of professional, insurance, or personal services transactions are not subject to sales tax.
  • Repair services that are separately charged are not subject to sales tax.
  • Services that provide internet access and other related electronic communication services are not subject to sales tax.
Installation and Repair
  • Separately stated labor charges for installation, application, remodeling, or repairing property sold or rented are not subject to sales tax.
Transportation Charges
  • Separately stated transportation charges are not subject to sales tax.
Clothing Alterations
  • Separately stated charges for alterations to clothing are not subject to sales tax.
Gift Wrapping Performed by Nonprofits
  • Gift wrapping services provided by a nonprofit organization are not subject to sales tax.
Computer Programs
  • Separately stated charges for labor or services rendered to modify prewritten computer programs are not subject to sales tax.
  • Custom computer programs are not subject to sales tax.
Extended Stay Lodgings
  • Hotel and motel rooms, and similar accommodations, that are provided to lodgers for more than 90 days are not subject to sales tax, as long as the place providing the room regularly provides accommodations to people. 
Maintenance Contracts
  • Maintenance contracts that provide for repair labor and repair or replacement parts are subject to sales tax, but only on ½ the total charge for the contract.

Media-Related Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.6.

Lease of Audio and Video for Public Exhibition
  • Movie theaters, licensed radio stations, and licensed television stations can lease, rent, or license copyright audio or video tapes and films for public exhibition free of sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-20
Commercial Broadcasting Equipment
  • Purchases of broadcasting equipment, parts and accessories, and towers used directly in broadcasting by commercial television and radio companies are not subject to sales tax.
  • Purchases of broadcasting, amplification and distribution equipment, parts and accessories, and towers by cable television companies are not subject to sales tax.
  • An internet service provider exemption for purchases used in the amplification, production, transmission, and distribution of internet services, open video systems, or other video systems provided by telephone common carriers.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-20
                                           ST-11A
    (for more information about Form ST-11A, please call 804.367-8037)
Periodicals
  • Newspapers, magazines, and other publications that are issued on a regular schedule, with no more than 3 months between issues, are exempt from the sales tax.
  • The exemption does not apply to newsstand sales.
Printed Materials Distributed Outside of Virginia
  • When stored in Virginia for 12 months or less, and ultimately distributed outside of Virginia, the following are not subject to sales tax:
    • Catalogs, letters, brochures, reports, and similar printed materials
    • Paper furnished to a printer to make these sorts of printed materials
  • Any advertising business located outside of Virginia which purchases printing from a printer within Virginia shall not be deemed the user or consumer when such purchases would have otherwise qualified for the exemption.
  • Exemption Certificate:  ST-10A
Advertising
  • Advertising in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and broadcasting is not subject to sales tax. For this exemption, "advertising” includes providing the concept, writing, graphic design, mechanical art, photography, and production supervision.
  • Exemption Certificate:  ST-10A
Audiovisual Works Production
  • Exemption for any audio or video tape, film, or other audiovisual work where it is acquired for the purpose of licensing, distributing, broadcasting, commercially exhibiting, or reproducing the work.
  • The exemption also applies to production services or fabrication in connection with the production of any portion of such audiovisual work and other tangible personal property incident to the performance of such services or fabrication.
  • The exemption also applies to equipment and parts and accessories used or to be used in the production of such audiovisual works.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-20A
Donated Education Materials
  • Books and other education materials given to professors, teachers, and others with an educational focus by publishing distribution facilities are not subject to sales tax.

Medical-Related Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.10.

Prescription Drugs and Medical Supplies
  • Prescription drugs and medicines, eyeglasses and hearing aids and supplies are not subject to sales tax.
  • Licensed physicians, optometrists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can purchase controlled drugs free of sales tax.
  • Samples of prescription drugs and medicines, and their packaging, distributed free of charge are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-13
Nonprescription Drugs
  • Nonprescription drugs and proprietary medicines for use on humans are not subject to sales tax.
  • Samples of nonprescription drugs and proprietary medicines distributed free of charge are not subject to sales tax.
Durable Medical Equipment
  • An individual can purchase for their own use, free from the sales tax:
    • wheelchairs
    • braces
    • other durable medical equipment
    • related parts and supplies
    • certain diabetic supplies
  • This exemption also applies when someone else purchases the equipment on behalf of the person who will ultimately use it.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-13
Dialysis Drugs and Supplies
  • Hemodialysis and peritoneal drugs and supplies are not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-13
Motor Vehicle Equipment for Persons with Disabilities
  • Special equipment installed on a motor vehicle to allow a person with disabilities to operate that vehicle is not subject to sales tax.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-10B
                                           ST-13
Communication Equipment for Persons with Disabilities
  • When prescribed by a physician, a person with disabilities may purchase special typewriters and computers that help that person communicate free of sales tax. The exemption also covers parts and supplies specifically designed for this equipment.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-13
Medical Products and Supplies Purchased by Medicaid Recipients
  • Medical products and supplies purchased by a Medicaid recipient are not subject to sales tax. The purchase must be made through a Department of Medical Assistance Services provider agreement.

Miscellaneous Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.10.

Residential Heating Fuels
  • Sales of certain heating fuels for domestic use are not subject to state sales tax. 
    • artificial or propane gas
    • firewood
    • coal
    • heating oil
  • The 1% local sales tax still applies to these sales.
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-15
Occasional Sales
  • Occasional sales, as defined in Va. Code § 58.1-602, are not subject to sales tax.
  • The exemption also applies to sales by nonprofit organizations of (1) food, prepared food and meals and (2) tickets to events that include the provision of food, prepared food and meals, so long as such sales take place on fewer than 23 occasions in a calendar year.
Property for Future Taxable Leases
  • Items that you purchase with the intent to lease out at a later time are not subject to sales tax. This includes a simultaneous purchase and taxable leaseback.
  • Exemption Certificate:  ST-10
Property Delivered Outside of the Commonwealth
  • Items that you ship outside of Virginia, that will be used or consumed outside of Virginia, are not subject to Virginia sales tax.
Food Stamps and WIC
  • Items purchased under the USDA Food Stamp Program or the Virginia Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children are not subject to sales tax.
Out-of-State Nuclear Repair
  • Items sold to a Virginia consumer for use in repairing or maintaining nuclear power plants located outside of Virginia are not subject to Virginia sales tax.
School Lunches and Textbooks
  • Lunches sold to pupils and employees of schools, and subsidized by the government, are not subject to sales tax.
  • School textbooks sold by a local board or authorized agency are not subject to sales tax.
  • Textbooks sold for use by students at a college or other institution of learning that are required for course work at that institution are not subject to sales tax. The textbook could be sold by the school or any other dealer. The book must be certified by an instructor or department of the institution as being required for the course.
Fabrication of Foodstuffs
  • Butchering, grinding or other fabrication of animal meats, grain, vegetables or other foodstuffs is not subject to Virginia sales tax, when the purchaser provides the foodstuffs to be processed, and 
    • the foodstuffs are consumed by the purchaser or their family; or
    • the purchaser is a nonprofit organization; or
    • the purchaser donates the foodstuffs to a nonprofit organization
  • Exemption Certificate: ST-24

Nonprofit Exemptions

Unless otherwise noted, all exemptions in this section are covered by Va. Code § 58.1-609.10 and § 58.1-609.11.

Nonprofit Organizations
  • 501(c)3, 501(c)4 and 501(c)19 nonprofit organizations may purchase items free from sales tax if they:
    • Apply for the exemption with Virginia Tax
    • Meet the applicable criteria
    • Are issued a certificate of exemption by Virginia Tax.
    Purchases of prepared or catered meals and food are also covered by this exemption. For more information, visit our Nonprofit Organizations page. 
  • Nonprofit organizations can sell certain items without collecting sales tax, so long as these sales take place on 23 or fewer occasions in a year.
    • Food
    • Prepared food and meals
    • Tickets for events that include the provision of food.
  • Exemption Certificate: NP-1
Nonprofit Churches
  • Nonprofit churches can purchase, free from sales tax:
    • items used in religious worship ceremonies
    • items used to carry out the work of the church and its related ministries
    • prepared or catered food and meals
    • Exemption Certificate: ST-13A
Goods Donated to Nonprofit Organizations or to Government
  • Items withdrawn from inventory and donated to 1 of the following types of organizations are not subject to sales tax
    • 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations
    • Virginia state government
    • any political subdivision of Virginia
    • any agency or school or instrumentality of Virginia