How it works: VAT refund
The majority of goods and services in the EU are VAT charged, either at standard, reduced or zero rate, and the VAT is added to the full sale price of the goods or services. Some shops, however, offer Tax Free Shopping, which means that visitors from countries outside the EU can receive a VAT refund on goods bought in the UK which they take home.
The VAT refund is only applicable to goods, not services. Several guidelines must be followed in order for you to be eligible for a VAT refund during personal export of goods. First of all, if you live outside the EU and wish to bring back goods from your visit to the UK, you must leave the UK for the non-EU destination with the goods within three months of purchasing the goods.
You must also complete a VAT refund document and show it to customs officials as you leave the EU, along with the goods and their receipts. The same rules apply if you live within the EU, as you may be eligible for a VAT refund if you are leaving the EU for more than 12 months.
If you live outside the EU but work or study in the UK, you may be eligible for a VAT refund if you leave the EU for more than 12 months, provided that you can produce the required documentation, as explained above.
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