The Carrier Bag Levy

When does the Carrier Bag Levy not apply?

Not all transactions require carrier bags to be charged under the Carrier Bag Levy. It is important to understand the differences so that your business only collects the levy where needed.

Carrier bags sold to customers at 20 pence or more are exempt from the levy - you will not need to collect a 5 pence levy from the sale of these bags.

If you are supplying a service eg shoe repairs or a laundry service, carrier bags used exclusively as part the service will not be subject to the levy. However, if a customer buys goods alongside the service, such as shoe polish or cleaning products in this example, then carrier bags supplied to carry these items will attract a charge.

Some bags will be exempt from the levy:

  • bags used to contain take-away hot food and hot drinks
  • bags used to carry goods purchased in an airport after you clear security
  • bags of a certain size used solely to contain packaged uncooked meat or fish
  • certain types of small bags
  • specialist bags such as mail order dispatch and courier bags

Bags used solely to contain certain items will also be exempt, such as:

  • unpackaged food
  • seeds and bulbs
  • axes / knives / razor blades
  • goods contaminated by soil
  • some medicinal products

The levy also doesn’t apply when a carrier bag manufacturer or wholesaler sells carrier bags to a shop.

If you are not sure whether your business activity means you need to charge for carrier bags, contact the Carrier Bag Levy Team on Tel 028 7744 2056 or email