Hold Onto Your Receipts for a VAT Refund at the Airport

It’s not secret that Britain’s 20% VAT (or sales tax) hurts when traveling in Britain. It inflates the costs of everything in Britain and you don’t notice it because it’s built into every price – so things just seem more expensive all around.

You can, however, get some of the VAT back at the airport when you leave Britain. But you have to do a little legwork to get it.

You need to shop at a retailer that supports the VAT refund scheme – so ask. Most major retailers and department stores will be participating in the program (we wrote that Harrod’s does this on site in the store). They’ll have to give you a special form that you take with your receipt to the airport.

Once you get to the airport and get through security find the customs window and give them all your paperwork and you should get a voucher for a refund at one of the currency exchanges. It’s a lot of hassle but if you spent a lot of money shopping while in Britain, it’s worth doing. You may also have to actually have the items with you at the counter.

One special note – you can’t claim VAT back on services like your Hotel stay. We tried once. Doesn’t work.

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