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HMRC internal manual

VAT Personal Exports: Retail Exports

HM Revenue & Customs
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Personal exports - retail exports: How the scheme works: Cash Refunds

Cash refund booths at airports

Cash refund booths are in operation at many of the points of departure from the EC (ports, airports and major land frontier crossing points). Travellers may obtain cash refunds as they leave the EC only when the retailer, through a refund company, has a prior agreement with the refund booth operator.

The maximum cash refund value is agreed between the refund company and the company administering the booth, but is typically £500 or £1000. Whilst larger amounts may also be paid in cash, by specific arrangement, normally these are paid by cheque to combat fraud. Cash refunds are only available on refund company versions of the VAT 407 and not the HMRC version of the VAT 407. The cash booth may make a charge for this service, which is deducted from the refund company’s share of the administration fee. The cash refund booth subsequently reclaims the amount refunded together with the further charge for the service direct from the refund company.

In-store refunds

Some retailers working in conjunction with the refund companies offer in-store refunds. This arrangement allows eligible customers to obtain a refund equivalent to the VAT on a purchase whilst still in the UK. In practice, a swipe of the credit card is taken for the VAT-exclusive amount and a further swipe is taken for the VAT. This further swipe is only processed where the retailer does not receive the certified VAT refund document within 21 days.

Down-town refunds

This arrangement is similar to the in-store refund and is available in some large retail stores and a small number of bureaux de change. Again an extra swipe of the credit card is taken and the traveller gets a refund before the goods are exported.