If you have ever shopped in a European country you may have heard of VAT or Value Added Tax. This tax is similar to GST except it’s 20% added on, instead of 10%.
I have never bothered to go through the refund process while travelling before because it seemed like too much effort. I decided to look in to it on my trip to London as all we pretty much did was shop!
I recommend claiming the VAT refund if you are buying anything expensive or spending a lot of money. This is because the more money you spend in a shop, the higher the % you get back. My sister bought a Jimmy Choo bag and wallet in Harrods and received almost the whole amount of the wallet back on tax!
I have tried to simplify the process below as best I could:
– Each shop has a specific amount you need to spend before they will give you the VAT refund. It was around £30
– When you are at the checkout you have to specifically ask for the VAT receipt. On the receipt you will see that there is a percentage of the total VAT that is kept for administration, which is shit!
– The more you spend at one shop, the more you get back as you’re only charged the admin fee once and receive more of a percentage back. If you buy stuff from the same shop in more than one transaction it pays to get it all put onto the one receipt once you have finished shopping. For example: you buy things from Top Shop on 3 separate occasions. Before you leave to claim your tax, it pays to go back in to Top Shop and get all of your purchases on the one VAT refund receipt
– The big department stores like Selfridges and Harrods have designated tax lounges that complete the refund receipt for you once you have finished shopping there. You will need to have your passport or a copy of your passport on you
– Harvey Nichols make you finish all of your shopping and then will process the VAT receipt at any counter
– Travelex act for customs and provide the VAT refunds. At Heathrow there are a number of counters you can take your goods and receipts to claim your refund
– Before you go to Heathrow you will need to fill out the details on every VAT receipt you have
– They say you will need to present your purchases with your receipts however I wasn’t required too. I guess it depends who serves you! Because of this if you have bought a lot and need to put it in your checked in baggage make sure you go to a landside travelex
– You can choose to get your refund back in any currency or have it put onto your credit card. The credit card refund can take up to 6 weeks
Claiming the VAT refund after you have spent a ridiculous amount on shopping is totally worth it!