When you visit the UK you will pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on most things you buy. The VAT Retail Export Scheme allows you to claim a VAT refund on most goods you buy when you leave the EU.
Not all retailers participate in the VAT refund scheme. When you purchase the goods ask the retailer if they participate as you will need to complete the form in the shop and the retailer will need to verify you have purchased the goods. The VAT rate is currently 20%.
You will not receive a refund of VAT if the VAT refund documentation is not fully completed. The goods must be available for inspection by Border Force officers on request.
Are you eligible to claim a VAT refund?
You are eligible for a VAT refund if:
- You normally live outside the EU.
- You are an overseas resident but have been working/studying in the UK. However, you will need to prove that you are leaving the EU for more than 12 months.
- EU residents may also qualify if you leave the UK for a destination outside of the EU and do not return to the EU within 12 months.
In all cases you must:
- Be able to prove that you belong to one of the categories above by showing the Border Force officer your passport, visa or other documents if requested to do so.
- Take the goods outside the EU by the end of the third full calendar month after purchase (eg: goods bought on 1st or 31st January should be exported by 30 April).
What goods can I buy under the scheme?
You can buy any goods under the scheme on which you pay VAT if the retailer participates in the scheme except for the following:
- Services eg hotel bills and car hire.
- Goods bought online or by mail order.
- Un-mounted gemstones
- Consumable goods you have already started using.
- Goods which require an export licence (except antiques).
- Goods worth over £600, being exported for business purposes.
- Goods to be exported as freight.
These goods must be exported within your hold or hand luggage.
How do I claim?
- At the time of purchasing the goods inform the retailer you wish to reclaim the VAT back. If the retailer is a participant of the scheme they will ask you to complete a VAT refund form 407.
- Some shops have till receipts which you can complete with the relevant details. This is also acceptable proof of purchase if it details the full information required.
- You MUST complete the form in the shop at the time you purchase the goods.
- When you leave the EU from Manchester Airport and the value of one of your items exceeds £5,000 please contact Border Force on the red point phone prior to checking in your goods. A Border Force officer will attend to examine your goods and stamp your form.
- If the value of an item does not exceed £5,000 and you wish to place them in your hold luggage, check in as normal.
- When you have checked in and proceeded through security you will see in all terminals a Border Force (Customs) Red Point which is clearly signposted.
Terminal 1 Terminal 2 Terminal 3
- If you have one item valued in excess of £5,000 pick up the red point phone and speak with the Border Force Officer who will come and visually inspect your goods.
- If your individual items do not exceed £5,000 place the envelope with your VAT 407 refund forms unsealed into the box at the red point.
- Border Force Officers empty this box daily. If your form meets the criteria, it will be stamped and returned to the retailer who will provide you with your VAT refund.
- Border Force Officers do not provide travellers with VAT cash refunds at Manchester Airport. The role of the Border Force Officer is to verify and stamp the documentation.
What if I am leaving the UK via another EU country?
If you are departing the UK via another EU country prior to reaching your final destination you must present your goods and forms in that EU Country.
What if I am leaving the EU on a through transit flight via another EU country?
- Goods carried on as hand baggage must be produced to Customs in the last EU country with the refund form before leaving to return home.
- Goods in hold baggage must be presented to Border Force Officers in the UK if an individual item exceeds £5,000. If less than this the forms must be placed in the box at the red point situated after security.
- After you leave the EU there is no facility to have your VAT 407 certified in your country of destination. You MUST claim this back prior to leaving the EU.
- If for any reason you do not receive your VAT refund you should write to the retailer not to the Border Force.
What should I do if I decide not to export all of the goods bought under the scheme?
If you decide to leave goods bought under the scheme in the EU, you must clearly delete those items from any VAT refund document when you finally leave the EU. This amendment must be made before you present the VAT refund documentation and the remaining goods to Customs for examination and certification (if that is appropriate under the procedures above).
For more information please visit the HM Revenue and Customs website.
If you need any further help please call Border Force at Manchester Airport 0161 261 5904