The UK Rules
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Tax Free

Tax Free Shopping and VAT Refunds

Those who are eligible can enjoy a spell of tax free shopping in the United Kingdom. This guide explains how to get a VAT refund and which goods are not eligible for refunds.

SHOP TAX FREE: As a rule, you can get a VAT refund on goods bought within the United Kingdom if:

Note: Not all retailers offer services for tax-free shopping. VAT refund requests are only valid for goods bought within the last 3 months.

Get a VAT Refund: 3 Steps

  1. Retailers who offer tax-free shopping will give you a VAT 407 form. As a rule, they will ask for proof that you are eligible for a refund. This may include showing them your passport.
  2. Complete the form and, with the receipt, give them to the customs refund office when you leave the EU. This may not be when you leave the UK but when you leave the EU zone.
  3. If all your paperwork is in order HM Revenue and Customs will approve the refund form. You can then request your VAT refund and get the payment.

Note: Sometimes the goods will not be part of your hand luggage and may need checking in. If you travel from the UK and change planes within the EU zone you will need to request the refund in the UK (step 2).

How to get Paid

You can get paid at your port of exit, such as an airport. If no customs officials are available you can leave the form in their post box. They will check your form and if approved will contact the retailer to arrange the refund.

You can send the approval form to the retailer. They will inform you on how you will get your refund.

If you send your form to the retailer make sure you send it to the right address. The reason is some companies use refund companies. Often, retailers charge a handling fee. This will get deducted from your refund of Value Added Tax.

Goods not Eligible for a VAT Refund

Tax Free Shopping and VAT Refunds in the United KingdomNot all goods qualify for VAT refunds. Typical examples include:

Tax Free Shopping: How to get a VAT Refund in the United Kingdom