Value-added tax (VAT) is a 20% sales tax levied on most goods and services.
If you are travelling for leisure you may be eligible for a VAT refund with the Retail Export Scheme, also known as tax-free shopping.
Participating stores will give you a special form (VAT 407) on request, to be certified at customs with the goods and receipts.
Tax-reclaim opportunities also exist for business : more information can be found on the HMRC website.
Value-added tax (VAT) is a 20% sales tax levied on most goods and services except basic food items, books and children's clothing. Restaurants must, by law, include VAT in their menu prices.
If you are travelling for leisure purposes or visiting friends and family, you may be eligible for a VAT refund. You must be leaving the EU (for at least 12 months) within three months of making the purchase.
The VAT refund scheme is called the Retail Export Scheme or tax-free shopping. Not all shops participate in the scheme, and different shops will have different minimum-purchase conditions (normally around £75 in any one shop).
On request, participating shops will give you a special form (VAT 407). This must be presented with the goods and receipts to customs when you depart (VAT-free goods can't be posted or shipped home). After customs has certified the form, you can either get paid immediately at a refund booth at the airport, if available, or return the approved form to the shop or its refund company. You will need to wait about eight to 10 weeks for your refund to come through. Some retailers may charge a handling or administration fee.
Agencies such as Planet Payment provide further information about tax-reclaim opportunities for leisure travellers.
Information for business travellers
If you are travelling for business purposes, please note that tax-reclaim opportunities exist for overseas companies and individual travellers.
Business and leisure travellers can find out more about VAT and claiming tax back at the HMRC website www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/sectors/consumers/overseas-visitors.