VAT Refund


VAT is a tax payable when purchasing goods and services in the European Union, including the UK. If you pay VAT, it is normally included in the price you see in the shop. In certain circumstances, you may be able to claim back the VAT, if for example you live outside the EU and are visiting the UK.


Each EU country has its own VAT rate and in the UK there are three rates. The standard rate is currently 20% and applies to most goods and services. A reduced rate of 5% is payable on items such as children's car seats, gas and electricity for your home, and there is also a 0% rate such as babywear and children's clothes and footwear.


Basic or staple food items, but does not include meals in restaurants or takeaway meals.
Books, newspapers and magazines.                    
Children's clothing and shoes.
Sanitary protection such as pads and tampons.
Public transport fares.
Installation of energy-saving materials.
Some goods provided in special circumstances, for example equipment and vehicles for disabled people such as stair lifts and grab rails.
There are also VAT exemptions for medical grounds, such as wigs worn for medical reasons, including hair loss through alopecia, chemotherapy or any other medical condition.


There are a number of ways you can receive your refund:
Cash: If you are travelling from Heathrow, Travelex provides VAT refunds in either Pounds Sterling (£) or foreign currency at any of their VAT stores in Heathrow Airport.
If you are not travelling from Heathrow, you are still able to claim your VAT refund by following the below process:
- Complete a VAT refund form and ensure it is stamped by Customs.
- Enclose your stamped VAT refund form, along with copies of your purchase receipts in a pre-paid envelope.
- Use the ‘postbox’ located near 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 back onto their card at any of the Travelex VAT stores in 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 cheque, which will be sent to their home billing address).
Steps at the airport, to claim back your VAT:
1 - Before you travel home, ensure that you collect your receipts from each store and place them in an envelope.
2 - Provide each store/shop with those receipts (either at the time of purchase or before leaving the UK) and ask each store to complete the VAT refund for you.
3 - They will each give you a form. Complete each form from each store and keep them in an envelope. If you have purchased any electrical appliances, it’s advisable that you keep them with you in an easily accessible bag.
4 - Ensure that you arrive at the airport in plenty of time to deal with your VAT refund(s). Proceed to the tax refund office (if you can’t find it, just ask any member of staff for directions).
5 - When you arrive at the tax refund office, stand in the queue with your passport and have the completed forms ready to hand. Hand over the forms and your passport to the assistant behind the counter. If you have bought expensive items, they may ask you to show them the items (so make sure you keep them somewhere easily obtainable).
6 - The assistant will ask you which currency you would like to receive your tax refund in. Once completed, you will receive the money immediately (if you have written cash as the method of payment on the forms).
7 - If you purchased any electrical items, they will not provide the tax refund in this office. They will ask you to go to the customer office to show them the receipts and forms, and also the items themselves. Following this, they will stamp your forms and you can go head back to the tax refund office to receive your money.