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Who and What is Covered in CIS

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) includes mainstream contractors and deemed contractors. Check who is covered by CIS and what kind of work qualifies as exceptions for contractors.

Business Types Covered by the CIS Scheme

It incorporates all types of businesses and other concerns involved in the construction industry. CIS covers self-employed individuals (sole traders), business partnerships, and companies.

In fact, the Construction Industry Scheme covers almost all construction work to buildings. It also includes site preparation, decorating, repairs, refurbishment, and demolition.

The terms of ‘contractor’ and ‘subcontractor’ have special meanings under the scheme. The definitions cover more than the term of ‘construction’.

Who is a ‘Mainstream’ Contractor?

Mainstream contractors would have construction as their main business and they would be paying subcontractors for construction work. Thus, you can be a ‘mainstream’ contractor as a:

  • Builder (or speculative builder)
  • Foreign business carrying out construction operations in the United Kingdom
  • Gangmaster (or gang leader)
  • Labour agency
  • Property developer
Who are ‘Deemed’ Contractors?

As a rule, you would count as a ‘deemed’ contractor for CIS purposes, even if you operate outside the mainstream construction industry, if:

  • Your business commissions construction work on a regular basis.
  • You spend an average of more than £1 million a year on construction (in any 3-year period).

Note: Deemed contractors can be housing associations or arm’s length management organisations (ALMO). They can be local authorities, or government departments.

Work Exceptions for CIS Contractors

Some types of building work does not operate under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). For example, the work would not apply for CIS if it is:

  • Paid for by a body of persons or trust established ‘solely’ for charitable purposes.
  • Paid for by a governing body or the head teacher of a maintained school on behalf of the local education authority.
  • Carried out on land owned by a subcontractor who is receiving payment. The work must amount to a value under £1,000 (excluding materials).

As a deemed contractor, you may not need to apply the CIS scheme if you are paying for:

  • Work on property used for your own business (providing it is not for sale or for rent).
  • A construction contract valued under £1,000 (excluding materials).

Note: You would need to contact the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) helpline to confirm any exemptions.

Construction Industry Scheme: General Enquiries
Telephone: 0300 200 3210
Textphone: 0300 200 3219
Outside UK: +44 161 930 8706
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 8am to 4pm
Closed Sundays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

Construction Work Not Covered by CIS Scheme

Certain job types and professions get an exemption from the Construction Industry Scheme, such as:

  • Architects and surveyors (as part of normal professional discipline)
  • Carpet fitting
  • Delivering materials
  • Scaffolding hire (without labour)
  • Signwriting and signboards
  • Wholly artistic works (e.g. statues, stained glass windows)
  • Work carried out on construction sites that is ‘clearly’ not construction (e.g. running a canteen or site facilities)


CIS Contractor Obligations | A section explaining the key regulations that CIS contractors must follow.

Register for CIS | Details on the process for setting up as a new employer and verifying subcontractors.

Note: Read through HMRC CIS 340 guidance for further details on what type of work is covered by CIS.

Who is Covered by the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) in United Kingdom