Did You Know?
- How Visitors Can Reclaim VAT (Sales Tax) in Scotland

"Value Added Tax" or "VAT" at the rate of 17.5% is added to most goods sold in the UK. Foreign visitors can sometimes reclaim this tax on purchases from certain stores where the value is over a minimum amount (usually 50/100 pounds). Here's a step by step guide to how you can get the tax back.

    Jenners Department Store, Edinburgh
  1. The Retail Export Scheme is voluntary, so not all retailers offer the service. Look for the sign "Tax Free Shopping" in the windows of stores which participate.
  2. Ask the sales assistant for the form for reclaiming the tax. Fill in the form and retain it.
  3. VAT refunds cannot be processed after you return home - only at the point of exit from the UK.
  4. When leaving the UK, keep the goods involved in your hand luggage.
  5. Show the goods and the form to a customs officer at the VAT desk at the airport or seaport as you leave the UK.
  6. The customs officer checks the goods and validates the claim voucher.
  7. Sometimes the refund is issued immediately, otherwise you have to send the validated voucher to the store where you bought the goods in the envelope provided.
  8. A check (sometimes minus a small service charge) will be sent to you; you can also have the refund applied to your credit card account.
  9. Since VAT is already included in the purchase price, the refund will be approximately 14.9% of the purchase price.
  10. Keep a note of the store's address and contact details (e-mail address if they have one) in case you have to contact them later.
  11. It may take anything up to three months to process the refund. If you encounter any problems, contact the store.
  12. See also the government's Customs and Excise Web site for more on the Travelerís Guide to the Retail Export Scheme.

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