You can only buy tax-free goods from shops:
- in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) if they’re delivered straight to an address outside the UK
- in Northern Ireland if they’re delivered straight to an address outside the UK and the EU
Check with the retailer if they offer this service.
If you’re visiting Northern Ireland, you may also be able to claim tax back on goods you buy from certain shops. You claim this as a VAT refund when you leave Northern Ireland or the EU.
When you may be able to get a VAT refund
You can sometimes get VAT refunds on goods you buy in Northern Ireland if you:
- visit Northern Ireland and live outside Northern Ireland and the EU
- work or study in Northern Ireland but normally live outside Northern Ireland and the EU
- live in Northern Ireland but are leaving Northern Ireland and the EU for at least 12 months
You can only get a VAT refund if you take the goods out of Northern Ireland and the EU within 3 months of buying them. Not all retailers offer VAT refunds.
Taking goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain
You will not get a VAT refund if you travel from Northern Ireland straight to Great Britain or to Great Britain through any EU country, including the Republic of Ireland.
If you travel from Northern Ireland to Great Britain through any other country you can get a refund. But any goods you buy in Northern Ireland will count towards your tax-free personal allowances when you enter Great Britain. If you go over your personal allowances, you’ll have to:
- declare them along with other goods you’re carrying when you enter Great Britain
- pay any import VAT due on the total goods
This may mean you have to pay VAT again on the goods you bought in Northern Ireland. But you can get a refund from the retailer if when you bought the goods you got a VAT 407(NI) form.
You may be able to get a VAT refund if you’re only traveling to Great Britain in order to change planes. You must be travelling to a non EU country and the goods must be in your hold luggage at all times.
Check the rules on bringing goods into Great Britain.
How to get a VAT refund
Get a VAT 407(NI) form from the retailer. They will ask for proof that you’re eligible, for example your passport and travel documents.
Complete the VAT 407(NI) form. Only include the goods you’re taking out of the country. Do not include any goods you’re leaving behind, any goods you’ve used or or any goods you’ve returned.
Show the goods, the completed form and your receipts to customs at the point when you leave Northern Ireland or the EU.
Customs will approve your form if everything is in order.
To get paid, either take your approved form to the VAT refund desk at the airport, or send it to the retailer or refund provider with evidence of where you’re travelling to.
If you’re changing planes in an EU country and checking in your goods with your luggage, you must do step 3 in Northern Ireland when you check in.
If you lose your VAT 407(NI) form, you can ask the retailer for a replacement.
You can either get paid immediately at a refund booth, for example 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.
If you’re travelling to Great Britain the retailer will tell you if you need to send them copies of your travel documents.
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 cannot get a refund for
You cannot get a VAT refund for:
- most mail order goods, including internet sales, delivered outside of Northern Ireland
- goods you’ve already used in Northern Ireland or the EU, such as perfume
- service charges, such as hotel bills
- new or used cars
- goods exported for business purposes where you need to make a customs declaration
- goods to be exported as freight
- goods that need an export licence (except antiques)
- unmounted gemstones
- gold or silver over 125g, 2.75 troy ounces or 10 tolas
- a boat you plan to sail to a destination outside the UK or the EU
Find out more about claiming VAT back on tax-free shopping in Northern Ireland, including travelling to Great Britain and problems like losing your form.