Can I get a VAT rebate?


If you are a foreign national not living or working in the European Union (EU) then you may be entitled to reclaim Value Added Tax (VAT) on purchases made within the United Kingdom.

The scheme which makes this form of rebate possible is known as the VAT Retail Export Scheme and is operated by the collector of UK taxation, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). 

What is VAT charged on?

VAT is charged on many items available to purchase in UK shops. The money is then paid by the business to HMRC.

This is a domestic tax however, and is not intended as a tax on the export of products outside the European central market, denoted by membership of the EU. As a result, it is possible in some circumstances to repay the VAT paid on the purchase of some goods. 

How can I qualify?

In order to qualify, you must not be an EU citizen or foreign national resident within the EU.

You must be returning to a non-EU country within three months of the purchase of the goods and must be able to produce evidence of the purchase, the goods and the refund documentation to customs on exit.

The scheme applies to VAT charged on all goods except motor vehicles, boats, goods over the value of £600 if used for business purposes, goods requiring an export licence, goods requiring freight, bullion or gemstones, and mail order items or items purchased over the internet.

The goods must also be purchased from a participating store, who will ask to see your passport when you make the purchase. 

How do I do it?

The form required to make a claim is available from the store itself, or from HMRC.

Your solicitor will have access to the form and should be able to ask any questions you have about the reclaim process. If you think you are entitled to a VAT refund, you should contact your solicitor to ensure that the forms are completed appropriately and you reclaim the full amount available. 

If you would like to obtain legal advice on VAT rebates, Contact Law can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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