A s Canadians have a GST or HST on virtually everything they buy, the British have Value Added Tax or VAT, which is a 20% sales tax charged on most goods. Exceptions are food, books and children’s clothes. The good news - visitors from outside the EU who stay less than three months may claim this tax back.  

So, how does tax-free shopping work?

When shopping, clients should ask the retailer for a VAT 407 form. It’s important to note not all shops will participate in the scheme and some may have a minimum purchase price (often around £75 ($130)). They may also ask for proof of eligibility (e.g. passport or national identity card).

To claim back the money, the VAT form, goods and receipts should be shown to customs at the departure point (e.g. airport). Assuming everything is in order, customs will approve the claim.

Claimants can either get paid immediately at a refund booth at the airport, or send the approved form to the retailer or its refund company. The retailer will advise how much they get paid. Some retailers charge a handling fee. This money will be deducted from your refund.

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



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