If you are travelling to the United Kingdom or Europe on a non EU passport that is you are not a EU citizen then you are eligible to claim a VAT tax refund on the bills you pay at stores.
London offers some of the most amazing sales and Paris and rest of Europe has deals not to be missed.
So what is VAT refund?
Whenever you buy anything at a store look at the bill. Along with the amount it would be written VAT and some amount next to it.
As a person who is visiting on a non EU or British Passport you are eligible to claim the amount of VAT as a tax refund.
So what does one need to get a VAT refund.
1) Carry your passport with you to the store (The store may want to see it before iniatiating the VAT refund process)
2) At the time of making the payment or later tell them you want a tax refund. The store most likely would guide you to a department that would look at your passport or proof of identity that you are eligible for a tax refund.
You need to show them the receipts of the stuff you have purchased. They would fill a form for you and you need to furnish your details such as name, address, passport number etc.
Make sure that the store signs and stamps the form as without this you would not be eligible for a VAT refund.
Make sure you reach the airport much earlier then you are supposed to for catching your flight out of EU/England as you would need time to get your tax refund processed.
When you reach the airport : Look for the tax refund department .
make sure you carry the form given to you by the store, the receipts and the goods on which you want a tax refund. So do this before you checking your bags
An officer at the department might want to look at the form, receipts and the goods before processing your refunds. A lot of airports have tax refund machines that have automated the process of a tax refund.
At the time of filling up the tax refund form you may get an option of giving your credit card details. Providing these details enables the refund to directly credit back to your credit card. This way you are saved the trouble of changing currency at the last minute.
Your tax refund is processed at the last port from which you leave the EU or UK.
Say for instance You travel from your country to
London ====>Paris====>Rome====>Switzerland====>Austria ====>London
So you would not have to get the tax refund from each of these cities/ countries. Instead collect all the form and get the tax refund processed from the last port of departure before going back to your country.
In the example above London (UK) happens to be the last port of departure so approach that particular tax refund department.
So when I take a taxi even the taxi receipt had a VAT on it can I claim that too?
No VAT that can be claimed is on goods and not on services so go ahead and shop till you drop but make sure you get your VAT refunded before you leave for your country and save big on your shoppings.
Besides tax refunds in UK and Europe there are other places around the world where you can get a tax refund Let me know if you are interested and I would do a post on it here.