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Vat Refunds

Travelling to the UK from outside of the EU?

You could be entitled to a refund of VAT charged on some goods and services

In the United Kingdom, Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged on many goods and services. As an overseas visitor you may be entitled to a refund of the VAT on some of the goods you buy from Retailers who are part of the Retail Export Scheme. You must export them by the last day of the third month following that in which the goods were purchased.

If you are an overseas visitor, to qualify for a VAT refund you must at point of exit from the EU:

  • Live outside the EU
  • Leave the UK for a destination outside the EU with the goods you have bought by the end of the third month after the month when you bought them.
  • Show customs officials the goods, your receipts for them with a completed VAT refund document.

Should the retailer you are buying goods and services from be part of the Retail Export Scheme they will give you a VAT Refund Document. This should be presented to Customs along with the goods when you finally leave the EU. Without a Customs Stamp the form will be invalid.

Once the form had been properly validated, depending on the retailer you purchased your goods from; you have a number of options to claim your refund:

  • You can post it back to the retailer
  • Return it to a VAT company (available if the retailer has outsourced this service)
  • Should there be an option for a cash refund and there is an office at the departing airport this can be processed instantly.

Travelex acts as an agent for five Refund Agents, Global Blue, Premier, Tax Free Worldwide, GB and Innova. Should their forms be presented at any of the Travelex VAT locations within Heathrow Airport then they can be exchanged instantly for cash. A fee will be applied by the VAT Companies for cash refunds. Please note not all forms are eligible for a cash refund.

VAT Refunds

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  • What is the Retail Export Scheme?

    In the UK, VAT is charged on many goods and services. The Retail Export Scheme allows non EU residents, who are leaving the European Union, to claim a VAT refund on most goods that they have purchased in the UK.

    VAT Refunds can only be claimed on your final day and from the departing EU Country and only from the airport terminal from which you are departing from. The claiming process must be completed within 3 months (VAT form’s stamped and completed) of the original purchase date of the item that you are claiming the refund for.

    Please note that refunds can only be claimed by the person who purchased the goods. It is not possible to claim a refund on behalf of someone else.

  • What documents do I need to claim a VAT refund?

    In order to claim a VAT refund in the UK, you will need the following:

    1. Customs Stamp – you must first present the goods to the Customs office at the airport, who will then stamp and sign your VAT form.
    2. Proof of purchase of goods from the Retailer – you must first show the sales receipts at the Travelex bureau when making a VAT refund claim
    3. A VAT Refund form from the Retailer – this must be completed and signed by the retailer in order to be valid.
    4. A valid passport – you will be required to show an expiring visa or one way flight ticket to prove that you are leaving the EU.
  • Are there any fees charged?

    There can be fees levied by the VAT agents, these differ by scheme:

    1. Global Blue Form – Customers will not be charged a fee where VAT Refunds are credited onto their debit or credit card. This service is only offered to customers when they present a Global Blue form. However a cash refund will be charged at £3.50 for each VAT refund form presented at a Travelex bureau.
    2. Premier Tax Free form - for a cash refund you will be charged a percentage fee on the amount spent (£1 min, £6 max) for each VAT refund form presented at a Travelex bureau.

    There may also be other fees charged by the retailer and/ or the VAT agent for their involvement in the transaction. As a result, even though VAT is currently charged at 20% throughout the UK, you should typically expect to receive around 10 – 13% after all the associated fees have been taken.

    If you require any information with regards to these fee’s please contact one of the below agents:

    Global Blue
    Premier Tax Free
    UK Tax Free Refunds
    GB Tax Free
  • Can I claim a refund in the UK?

    You can claim a VAT refund in the UK if you are not a resident of the following countries:

    Austria Estonia Ireland Poland
    Belgium Finland Italy Portugal
    Bulgaria France Latvia Romania
    Croatia Germany Lithuania Slovakia
    Cyprus UK Luxembourg Spain (inc. Balearic Islands)
    Czech Republic Greece Malta Sweden
    Denmark Hungary Netherlands  

    If you are unsure of your eligibility for a VAT Refund, you should contact HM Revenue & Customs on 0845 010 9000.

  • How can I receive my VAT refund?

    There a number of ways you can receive your refund:

    If you are travelling from Heathrow Travelex provides VAT refunds in either Pounds Sterling (£) or a foreign currency at any of our VAT stores at Heathrow Airport.

    If you are not travelling from Heathrow you are still able to claim your VAT refund by following below process:

    1. Complete a VAT refund form and ensure this is stamped by Customs.
    2. Enclose your stamped VAT refund form, along with a copy of your purchase receipt in a pre-paid envelope which can be obtained from the retailer.
    3. There is a ‘postbox’ located close to the Travelex bureau where you can ‘post’ your sealed envelope.

    Credit Card
    Customers who have a Global Refund Form can choose to have their refund put onto their card at any of our VAT stores at Heathrow Airport.

    By Post
    Some refund companies issue refunds via card only (in this instance the customer is also able to receive their refund via a cheque which will be sent to their home billing address).

  • I haven’t received my refund yet, what should I do?

    For refunds which are not credited immediately at the VAT desk, Travelex, or yourself would need to send the completed VAT forms to the company or shop used, who will then credit the VAT back to you.

    As a major foreign currency provider we offer a cash refund service, e.g. GBP or local currency to which the claimer is resident.

    If you require your claim to be returned to a card, this is not a service we can provide. Travelex act as an intermediary, checking forms and ensuring documentation is correct, We will then forward the documentation onto the retailer, who completes the refund.

    Travelex are not involved in claiming VAT back from a retailer.

    A customer should expect to be credit with their VAT refund within 2 – 3 weeks (if processed via Global Blue) or within 6 – 8 weeks (for all other refund agents) of their VAT form being validated at the bureau.

    However, if you have not received your refund, you will need to contact one of the following:

    Global Blue
    Premier Tax Free
    UK Tax Free Refunds
    GB Tax Free
  • Do all Retailers and shops have VAT Refund forms?

    Not all shops participate in the VAT Refund scheme. The majority of participating shops will have VAT stickers in their shop windows. If a shop does not participate in the VAT scheme, you will not be able to claim your VAT back.

    Please note that Travelex cannot arrange VAT refund forms at the airport, nor from the HRMC website. VAT refund forms must be obtained from the Retailer.

  • What Travelex stores can I claim my VAT refund from?

    Our VAT refund stores are located at Heathrow:

    Terminals 1 & 4: Landside & Airside Departures open daily from 5:00am–10:00pm

    Terminal 3: Landside & Airside Departures open daily from 6:30am- 10:00pm

    Terminal 5: Landside & Airside Departures open daily from 6:00am-10:00pm

    If you have any questions around your eligibility to claim the VAT refund in the UK then please contact the HM Revenue & Customs. They can be contacted on 0845 010 9000 or by visiting