5. Tax-free shopping

You can sometimes get VAT refunds on goods bought in the UK if you:

  • visit the UK but live outside the EU and are going back home
  • are an EU resident leaving the EU for 12 months or more
  • are a non-EU resident but work or study in the UK and are leaving the EU for 12 months or more

Not all retailers offer tax-free shopping and you can only get VAT refunds for goods bought within the last 3 months.

How to get a VAT refund

  1. Get a VAT 407 form from the retailer - they might ask for proof that you’re eligible, eg your passport.

  2. Show the goods, the completed form and your receipts to customs at the point when you leave the EU (this might not be in the UK).

  3. Customs will approve your form if everything is in order. You then take the approved form to get paid.

If you’re changing planes in another EU country and checking your goods with your luggage, you must do step 2 in the UK when you check in.

Getting paid

You can either get paid immediately at a refund booth, eg at the airport, or send the approved form to the retailer or their refund company. The retailer will tell you how you’ll get paid.

Some retailers charge a fee for handling your form. This money will be deducted from your refund.

If there are no customs officials available, you can leave your form in a customs post box. Customs will check it and contact your retailer to arrange the refund if everything is in order.

Goods you can’t get a refund for

You can’t get a VAT refund for:

  • mail order goods, including internet sales
  • goods you’ve already used in the EU, such as perfume
  • service charges, eg hotel bills
  • new or used cars
  • goods worth more than £600 exported for business purposes
  • goods to be exported as freight
  • goods that need an export licence (except antiques)
  • unmounted gemstones
  • gold over 125g, 2.75 troy ounces or 10 tolas
  • a boat you plan to sail to a destination outside the EU