There are only a limited number of exemptions to the CIS, and these include the professional work of engineers, draughtsmen, scientists and technicians, architects and surveyors, plus consultants in building, engineering, landscaping and interior or exterior design, plus the manufacture or delivery of materials to site, or the transport of spoil away from site.

The CIS does also not apply if your work is:

paid for by a charity or trust, or paid for by the governing body or head teacher of a maintained school on behalf of the local education authority, or on the subcontractor’s own property and is worth less than £1,000 excluding materials – but you must call the CIS helpline to get an exemption for that.

The following list is taken directly from HMRC’s guide to operations that are exempt from the CIS:

  • manufacture or offsite fabrication of components or equipment, materials, plant or machinery and delivery of these to the site – for example:
    • traditional building materials
    • prefabricated beams and panels
    • ready-mixed concrete
  • manufacture and delivery of prefabricated site facilities
  • running of site facilities such as canteens, hostels, offices, toilets and medical centres or the supply of security guards
  • installation or replacement of telecommunication or computer wiring through pre-existing ducting in buildings
  • delivery of road-making materials
  • setting out traffic cones
  • hire of scaffolding equipment (without labour)
  • delivery, repair or maintenance of construction plant or hire equipment without an operator – for example, concrete mixers, pumps and skips
  • installation of fire alarms, security systems, including burglar alarms, closed-circuit television as part of a security system, and public address systems, but not any preparatory works on the land such as digging, building/erecting concrete posts on which to install the CCTV
  • transport of materials from site to site on the public highway
  • assembly of temporary stages and exhibition stands including lighting
  • external cleaning (other than painting or decorating) of buildings and structures
  • drilling for, or extraction of, oil or natural gas
  • extraction of minerals, boring or construction of underground works for this purpose
  • manufacture, delivery, repair, servicing or maintenance of these items:
    • systems of heating
    • lighting
    • air-conditioning
    • ventilation
    • power supply and distribution
    • drainage
    • sanitation
    • water supply and distribution
    • fire protection works
    • lifts, plant or machinery needed by the specification of a building under construction or alteration
  • replacement of system parts not involving other construction operations (for example, taps or a radiator)
  • stairlifts requiring no alteration or repair to the building
  • tree planting and felling in the ordinary course of forestry or estate management
  • manufacture and delivery of lamp standards – routine maintenance such as cleaning and general replacement
  • manufacture offsite and delivery of flooring materials
  • manufacture and delivery of:
    • glazing materials
    • computer and instrumentation systems
    • thermal insulation materials
    • heating and ventilation systems
    • doors and rolling grills
    • painting or decorating materials
  • manufacture, delivery and installation of seating, blinds and louvered shutters
  • manufacture, installation and repair of artistic works (for example sculptures and murals) which are wholly decorative in nature (not functional items caught by the scheme which incidentally have artistic merit)
  • manufacture and installation of solar, blackout or anti-shatter film
  • signwriting and erecting, installation and repair of signboards and advertisements
  • carpet fitting.