Tax-free shopping in London

Find out whether you're eligible for VAT refunds on purchases made during your visit to London and how to claim the tax back.
People walking around on a London shopping street. Credits: Nick Howe.
Take to the shops and boutiques of London for a Friday of self-care this Friday. Credits: Nick Howe.
  • Value-added tax (VAT) is a 20% sales tax charged on most goods in the UK.
  • Visitors from outside the EU were eligible for tax-free shopping until January 2021.
  • Tax-free sales at airports, ports and Eurostar stations ended as of 1 January 2021.

Up until 1 January 2021, if you lived outside the EU and travelled to the UK for leisure or business, you were eligible for a VAT refund. The VAT-refund scheme was called the Retail Export Scheme or tax-free shopping, but the UK government have now ended this scheme.

End of the VAT Retail Export Scheme

Under the VAT Retail Export Scheme (VAT RES), international visitors to the UK could reclaim the VAT they paid on goods purchased but not consumed in the UK.

The UK government ended VAT RES on 31 December 2020 when the Brexit transition period ended.

Can I still buy tax-free goods?

From 1 January 2021, the UK government ended tax-free sales in airports, ports and Eurostar stations.

This means you cannot buy tax-free goods such as electronics and clothing if you are travelling to non-EU countries.

VAT refunds for overseas visitors in British shops have now been removed.

Overseas visitors can still buy items VAT-free in store and have them sent direct to overseas addresses.

Claiming VAT refunds on items you can take home in your luggage has also ended.