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HMRC internal manual

VAT Personal Exports: Retail Exports

HM Revenue & Customs
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Personal exports - retail exports: Controls at export - airports and ports: Who performs the export control?

This depends upon whether:

  • the traveller is going directly to a destination outside the EC;
  • the traveller is departing the EC through another Member State;
  • the goods are exported as hold baggage; or
  • the goods are on a transit flight leaving the EC via another Member State.

(a) Travellers going directly to a destination outside the EC

The frontier control rests with UK Customs staff at Outward Baggage controls. Customs officers operate under the guidance laid down in Border Force Handbook.

(b) Travellers departing the EC through another Member State

Frontier control rests with the certifying officer in the Member State of final departure from the EC - see(d) below for passengers departing on through flights via another Member State.

(c) Goods exported as hold baggage

If goods are not exported as hand-held luggage, travellers are instructed in Notice 704 and Notice 704/1 to contact Customs landside before checking in their hold baggage. Examination is in accordance with the local scheme of control. Notice 704 also states that the retailer should advise the traveller of the need to contact the airline enquiry desk and to allow ample time for the necessary checks.

(d) Transit flights via another Member State

Special provisions exist for goods being carried on through flights leaving via another Member State. Goods carried as:

  • hand baggage must be produced to Customs with the refund form in the last EC Country before leaving to return home. Most major transfer European airports have an airside desk to which transit passengers have access; but
  • hold baggage must be produced with the refund form in the UK before luggage is checked in.