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News | London

What is the tourism tax? Jeremy Hunt could scrap controversial measure affecting London

tax refund england tourist

Jeremy Hunt faced renewed calls on Monday to scrap the controversial “ tourist tax ” within weeks and give London a significant economic boost.

The chancellor has asked the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) to look at the benefits and disadvantages of the levy and report back before the budget on March 6.

It gives hope that London could again appeal to wealthy tourists although it remains to be seen what will come next.

The Treasury has argued that axing the levy now could cost up to £2bn a year in lost taxes.

But campaigners have insisted that the analysis did not take fully into account the broader boost to the wider economy , beyond the revenue for shops selling to high-spending tourists .

Mr Hunt has previously said it is unlikely he will have “the kind of room that I had for those very big tax cuts” in the autumn statement.

Christmas 2023

What is tourism tax and how is it affecting London?

As chancellor, Rishi Sunak abolished tax-free shopping for tourists in 2020.

The perk allowed tourists from outside the EU to claim back their VAT on goods bought in the UK, making them 20 per cent cheaper.

The tourist tax is seen as putting London at a disadvantage to other European cities such as Paris and Milan in attracting wealthy visitors, with campaigners against it claiming it is costing the UK billions. The government has been under pressure to reinstate duty free shopping, which has had an impact on London Fashion Week , making purchases 20 per cent more expensive for international shoppers.

The loss of duty-free shopping, according to independent designer Edeline Lee, who established her namesake brand in 2013 and creates all of her clothing in the UK, makes it more challenging for small British businesses to compete with their European competitors.

tax refund england tourist

Laboni Saha, the founder of womenswear brand L Saha, is finding it “increasingly challenging to remain profitable from sales in the UK” as the cost of running a business increases with “Brexit-related costs and inflation”.

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A recent study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has revealed that the “tourist tax” is costing the UK £10.7 billion in lost GDP and putting off two million tourists from visiting each year.

The research also showed that extra sales generated by reinstating VAT-free shopping for tourists would outweigh these losses.

Around 350 businesses previously sent an open letter to the Mr Hunt, asking for the situation to be addressed , highlighting the fact that tourists are choosing to travel to and spend their money in cities that don’t have the indirect tax.

Mr Sunak said last year had said he would listen to calls to scrap the “tourism tax” that critics say is damaging London’s economy.

The PM’s official spokesman said at the time: “We are always happy to listen to the sector about their concerns and obviously we will respond accordingly.”

A debate on tax-free shopping for international visitors was held in Westminster Hall on September 7 but no decision has been made yet.

Mr Hunt has asked the independent watchdog OBR to review it, giving the clearest message yet that it could be set for modification.

How did the VAT refund for overseas visitors work?

Until January 2021, visitors to the UK from outside the EU were able to get a VAT refund on their shopping. VAT, which stands for value-added tax, is a 20 per cent sales tax charged on items in the UK.

Non-EU visitors used to be able to present a VAT receipt at the airport to claim their refund. This scheme has since ended, though customers are still able to buy items VAT-free in-store if they send them directly to their homes overseas.

The VAT paid by visitors to the UK is different from how tourist tax works in other cities. For example, Manchester introduced a tourist tax in April, which charges visitors to the city £1 per night for hotels and similar accommodation. The hope is that this tourist tax could raise millions of pounds for the council, and that the money could be used to boost the tourism economy.

tax refund england tourist

Why did the VAT refund scheme end?

The VAT refund scheme ended in 2021 after the UK left the EU, as part of a post-Brexit consultation about taxing items transported across borders for personal use.

Kwasi Kwarteng reintroduced the tax-free shopping scheme as part of his mini-budget, but Jeremy Hunt reversed the decision when he became chancellor, claiming it was unaffordable.

At the time, retail bosses described Hunt’s decision as a “ hammer blow to UK tourism and the British high street”.

Mr Hunt argued that by not introducing a new VAT-free shopping scheme, the UK could generate more than £1 billion in 2024, and more in subsequent years, as reported by Forbes .

However, a report by the luxury trade association Walpole found that tax-free shopping generated more than £3 billion a year for the UK as well as wider economic benefits.

Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam, also welcomed the review into the levy.

“I hope that this will lead to it being scrapped, if possible at the Budget,” he said, stressing that the move would benefit “ordinary Londoners” including those who work in the hospitality sector and taxi drivers.

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Growth Plan 2022: VAT-free shopping re-introduced to Great Britain

Published: 27 Sep 2022 Update History

17 October update

On 17 October, the new Chancellor of The Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, brought forward a number of measures from the late October Medium-Term Fiscal Plan. These reversed most of the changes that had been announced by his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng, on 23 September.

  • Read more about the changes
  • Find out more about the tax cuts reversals

Since the UK left the EU at the end of 2020, VAT-free shopping has only been available in Northern Ireland.

As part of its plan for growth, the government has committed to reintroducing a VAT-free shopping scheme to Great Britain. This would enable non-UK visitors to Great Britain to obtain a VAT refund on goods bought in the high street, airports and other departure points and exported from the UK in their personal baggage. The proposal is intended to provide a boost to the high street and create jobs in the retail and tourism sectors.

The scheme currently operating in Northern Ireland is largely paper based. The new scheme for Great Britain will be digital and the Northern Ireland scheme will be modernised. A consultation will gather views on the approach and design of the scheme, which the government says will be delivered “as soon as possible”.

It remains to be seen whether HMRC will be given additional resource to urgently build another new digital system while also working on projects such as MTD ITSA and the Single Trade Window.

This guidance is created by the Tax Faculty, recognised internationally as a leading authority and source of expertise on taxation. The Faculty is the voice of tax for ICAEW, responsible for all submissions to the tax authorities. Join the Faculty for expert guidance and support enabling you to provide the best advice on tax to your clients or business.

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Duty-free shopping to be reinstated for overseas visitors to the UK

Tourists used to be able to reclaim the taxes until former chancellor rishi sunak scrapped the rebate in late 2020.

Britain has reintroduced VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors. EPA

Britain has reintroduced VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors. EPA

Gillian Duncan author image

Duty-free shopping in the UK will be reintroduced for overseas visitors, the country’s new chancellor announced on Friday.

Tourists will soon be able to claim all value-added tax paid on goods in plans unveiled by the government.

Shoppers used to be able to reclaim the taxes before they left the country at airports and refund agencies.

But former chancellor Rishi Sunak scrapped the rebate in December 31, 2020, despite fears it would cost 40,000 British jobs and £1 billion ($1.12bn) of investment.

Speaking in the House of Commons to announce the new government’s mini-budget , Kwasi Kwarteng said the move would benefit British retailers.

“Britain welcomes millions of tourists every year and I want our high streets and airports, our ports and our shopping centres to feel the economic benefit,” he said.

“So we have decided to introduce VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors.

“We will replace the old paper-based system with a modern, digital one.

“This will be in place as soon as possible. This is a priority for our great British retailers, so it is our priority too.”

Industry experts welcomed the move, saying British retailers have been lobbying for a reinstatement of the rebate for two years.

"The government's reversal on tax-free shopping in today's mini-budget is a huge relief after nearly two years of lobbying with the retail sector for this," said Hugh Seaborn, chief executive of Cadogan, a property manager, investor and developer based in Chelsea.

"International visitors are fundamental to London and the UK's recovery, and we now have a level-playing field alongside other European cities that never ceased to offer this incentive.

"We are firmly back on the map as an extremely attractive destination and unbeatable once more in terms of a heady mix of culture, heritage and fantastic shopping."

The rebate is among a series of measures announced on Friday, designed to break the “cycle of stagnation” in the British economy.

They include a cut in the basic rate of income tax to 19p from April 2023 and the abolishment of the top rate of tax for higher earners.

The government also lifted the cap on bankers’ bonuses, raised the threshold for stamp duty to £250,000 and reversed an increase in National Insurance.

"We need global banks to create jobs here, invest here and pay taxes here in London — not in Paris, not in Frankfurt and not in New York," Mr Kwarteng said.

"We are securing our place in a fiercely competitive global economy, with lower rates of corporation tax and lower rates of personal tax."

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VAT: How to Claim a Tax Refund When Shopping in London

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

VAT (value-added tax) is the tax payable on all goods and services in London , and the rest of the United Kingdom. The 2019 standard rate of 20 percent VAT means if you spend 100 pounds at one store, you can claim back 20 pounds at the airport. With store-bought goods, the VAT tax is factored into the sticker price so you don't need to add it to the price displayed when at the cash register. So if a bottle of water is priced at 75 pence, then 75 pence is what you will pay.

As a citizen of a non-EU country, you are not always obligated to pay this tax and can opt for a refund at the airport. If you plan on doing a lot of shopping in the U.K., not taking advantage of the VAT refund means you're leaving money on the table.

VAT Refund Eligibility

If you live outside the EU, if you are an EU citizen living outside the EU with no plans to return in 12 months, or if you are a non-EU resident that works or studies in the U.K. and are leaving the EU for 12 months or longer, you are eligible for a VAT refund upon leaving the U.K. You must be able to show proof that you will be leaving the U.K. to qualify for the refund.

You can claim a VAT refund on anything purchased from participating retailers, which has the VAT included in the price. This does not include services, such as hotel stays, items bought online or through the mail, unmounted gemstones, consumable goods that have been opened, cars, goods you have used or worn, gold weighing over 125 grams, items that need an export license, or goods worth over 600 pounds that are being exported for business purposes. The VAT refund is strictly intended for commercial goods.

Many stores have a minimum amount that you need to spend before qualifying for a VAT refund and some stores don't participate in the refund program at all. If you are planning on spending a lot of money at one particular store, make sure you ask them about their VAT policy when you enter. For example, the VAT minimum at Harrods in London starts at 50 pounds.

How to Claim a VAT Refund at the Airport​

The best time to get your VAT refund is at the airport when you are leaving the U.K., but you really should start thinking about it before you head to the cash register, as you will need to make sure you get the proper forms. It's important that you don't use the items you purchase before you claim the refund. This means you cannot claim a refund for a jacket you are currently wearing—even if you just bought it the day before. Some officials might look the other way, but it's not worth the risk. If you are in the U.K. for more than three months and want to get a VAT refund upon your exit, note that you can only get refunds on items purchased within the last three months.

  • When making a purchase, ask the retailer for a VAT Refund Form (also called a VAT 407 form). The retailer might ask for your passport to verify that you're eligible for the refund.
  • Complete and sign the VAT Refund Form.
  • To claim a VAT refund on goods that will be packed into checked luggage, go to customs before security at the airport, where your VAT Refund Form will be checked and stamped. After it's stamped you can check your luggage.
  • To collect your refund go to a VAT refund desk.
  • Depending on the VAT form you've been given, the refund will be issued to your credit card, sent as a check, or will be given as cash. Some retailers charge a fee for handling the VAT form and that fee will be deducted from your refund.
  • If you're claiming for jewelry or electronics worth over 250 pounds and want the items kept in your hand luggage, you'll need to visit customs after airport security.
  • If there are no customs officials available, you can leave your form in a customs mailbox.

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Irish shoppers may win as UK plans return of VAT refunds for tourists

Plan to reintroduce vat refunds won’t apply to the north.

tax refund england tourist

The British government plans to reinstate VAT refunds for tourists shopping in the UK. (Photo by CARLOS JASSO/AFP via Getty Images)

Irish visitors to Britain could save 20 per cent on their holiday shopping following a significant overhaul of the UK’s VAT regime announced by the British chancellor.

While the scheme, which will allow tourists and other travellers to Britain, to claim VAT back as long as the goods are exported from in their personal baggage, the savings are not likely to materialise until 2024 at the earliest.

If the proposals are implemented in the years ahead however, Irish consumers will be potentially be able to offset much of the cost of a short trip to Britain through VAT savings on high end electronics and other luxury goods.

The cost of a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes, for example could fall from close to £1,200 (€1,346) to just under £1,000 once the VAT rebate is claimed, while a high end phone could cost as much as £400 less if the proposals are implemented.

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However, the VAT cuts will not apply to people crossing the Border from the Republic to the North because of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Retailers and the hospitality industry in Britain welcomed the planned return of VAT-free shopping for international tourists, saying it would help to boost sales.

The UK government said it would consult on introducing a new tax-free shopping scheme for Britain and would modernise the one in place in the North.

The scheme will enable tourists to get a refund on VAT on goods bought on the high street, at airports and other departure points and exported from the UK in their personal baggage.

The move, which will cost almost £1.3 billion (€1.46 billion) in 2024-25, when it is likely to be brought in — according to government documents published alongside Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget on Friday — unwinds the scrapping of the long-term VAT-free scheme in January 2021 by the former chancellor Rishi Sunak after Brexit.

The UK government said a consultation would “gather views on the approach and design of the scheme” before it was delivered as soon as possible.

Retailers, especially in tourist hot spots such as central London, have long called for the return of the scheme, saying its loss had led to tourists opting to spend more elsewhere.

Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, which represents most major retailers, said: “We welcome the reintroduction of tax-free shopping for tourists, which will boost sales and bring the UK back in line with other European nations.”

But she added that the government had not taken any measures to tackle the burden of business rates, the property-based tax which retailers say hobbles them from competing with online specialists such as Amazon.

“Retailers are facing immense cost pressures, not just from energy bills, but also a weak pound, rising commodity prices, high transport costs, a tight labour market and the cumulative burden of government-imposed costs,” Ms Dickinson said.

“Yet what was missing from today’s announcement was any mention of business rates, which are set to jump by 10% next April, inflicting another £800m in unaffordable tax rises on already squeezed retailers. It is inevitable that such additional taxes will ultimately be passed through to families in the form of higher prices.”

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, the trade body that represents restaurants, bars and hotels, added: “While tax-free shopping for overseas customers is a welcome step to attract overseas tourists, a far more immediately impactful step would be to reduce VAT for our domestic customers.

“Our VAT rate is the highest among modern economies, so if we want a globally competitive market, we need lower VAT and an equitable alternative to business rates.” - Guardian


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International Edition

Money blog: 'Stealth tax' on Britons' incomes to stay until 2028

A squeeze on people's incomes due to frozen tax thresholds will continue until 2028, with the Tories and Labour confirming they wouldn't end the "stealth tax". Read this and the rest of today's consumer and personal finance news below, and leave your thoughts in the comments box.

Thursday 30 May 2024 23:11, UK

  • 'Stealth tax' on incomes to remain until 2028, Hunt says
  • Energy prices 'will be high for a decade'
  • Think twice before buying clothes from Zara before your holiday
  • Scotland to introduce tourist taxes

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Ask a question or make a comment

Energy prices are expected to rise again in the autumn and last week's announcement of a cut in the cap from July should not be taken as a "sign of stability", the head of the Energy Saving Trust has said.

"Confirmation that energy prices are coming down for the next quarter is very welcome," Mike Thornton said.

"However, no one should take this lower price cap as a sign of stability."

He added: "Forecasts show that energy prices are set to rise again this autumn and will be staying high overall for the next decade."

He urged the next UK government - to be decided in the general election on 4 July - to focus on policies that "support people to use less energy and install cost-effective energy efficiency improvements in their homes".

The cap will fall to £1,568 a year from 1 July - a drop of £122 from the previous quarter. 

McDonald's customers have taken to social media to complain about a "naughty" detail in one of its new deals. 

The fast food giant started a new mix and match deal this week - which allows shoppers to pick up three items for just £3 in store.

However, those ordering online have found the price increase to £4 for the same deal. 

Writing in the Extreme Couponing and Bargains UK group, one user shared a screenshot of her My McDoanld's app, writing: "It's gone from 3 for £3 to 3 for £4. Which is odd, or is that cause it's on the app."

Another branded the price difference "naughty". 

McDonald’s has since confirmed that this price is correct on app.

The increase is due to delivery fees charged by couriers like Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat - and is fairly standard across the industry. 

Sony Music is reportedly in talks to purchase the entirety of rock band Queen's music catalogue in a deal mooted to be worth some $1bn (around £800m). 

Bloomberg reports  the company has partnered with another anonymous investor to engage Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and the estate of Freddie Mercury over a sale that would be the largest of its kind.

Queen Productions Ltd, of which the bandmates and Mercury's estate are equal shareholders, recorded revenues of $52m in the year that ended in September 2022. 

This comes after the catalogue of Bruce Springsteen was acquired by Sony in 2021, while rival Warner Music bought David Bowie's songbook for around $250m in 2022, as industry giants battle to invest in songwriting catalogues. 

They are seen by many as attractive investments as the music can be used in future films, advertisements and on the radio - which all produce royalties for the rights owners. 

A squeeze on people's incomes due to frozen tax thresholds will continue until 2028 under Tory plans, Jeremy Hunt has confirmed.

Rishi Sunak introduced a freeze on tax-free personal allowance thresholds (the amount you can earn before you start paying tax) when he was chancellor back in 2021. In his autumn 2022 budget, Mr Hunt extended the time it would need to be in place from 2026 to 2028.

The frozen rates mean many have failed to feel the benefit of a the national insurance cut which kicked in this year.

The Office for Budget Responsibility also estimates the static rates will drag an additional four million people into paying tax by 2028 and push three million into a higher tax bracket. This is because wages will go up alongside inflation but the threshold won't. 

The policy is often referred to as a "stealth tax".

Mr Hunt told BBC Radio 4's Today programme today: "The tax rises that happened as a result of the pandemic and the energy shock, these two giant shocks, will stay for their allotted time period."

But he reiterated the Conservatives' pledge to end the freeze after 2028, saying: "I can absolutely undertake that the threshold freeze that we introduced until 2028 will not continue after that."

The Tories have said they will unfreeze the thresholds for pensioners if they win the election.

Labour has also refused to commit to unfreezing overall tax thresholds.

Sir Keir Starmer said earlier that he believed the tax burden on working people was "too high" but that his party was not going to "make commitments that we cannot afford".

"Therefore I'm very clear about the tax that will remain and will be locked and where we cannot make those commitments," he said.

What are the tax thresholds and what do they mean?

The personal tax allowance is frozen at £12,570. You don't pay income tax on anything you earn below that - anything above is taxed at the 20% base rate. At the same time, the higher rate has been frozen at £50,271 - anything above that is taxed at 40%.

Tom Selby, director of public policy at AJ Bell, said the personal allowance, if it had been inflation-linked since 2021-22, would be forecast to rise to £15,989 by 2028 - nearly £3,500 higher than the frozen threshold.

Tourists headed to Scotland for holidays will face a tourist tax for hotels, bed and breakfasts and holiday lets.

The Scottish Parliament passed the Visitor Levy (Scotland) Bill two days ago, meaning local authorities can set a charge for overnight accommodation.

According to the bill, the fee will be a percentage of the cost of a hotel or other room.

For instance, a 1% levy on a £200 booking means a visitor would pay £2 in tourist tax.

However, any charges or levies will not come into effect until spring 2026, as councils will first have to consult local businesses before carrying out an 18-month implementation period.

Those receiving disability benefits will not pay any charges, with children and young people also exempt.

Ministers will also have the power to set a cap on the number of nights where a levy would apply.

It will also be up to councils if they want to put a charge in place - but with Holyrood research suggesting 17 of Scotland's 32 councils backing the plans, it is likely some visitors will be hit by charges.

Scotland's employment and investment minister Tom Arthur said on Tuesday the charge would be a " force for good", suggesting it "has the potential to be an important tool enabling investment in the local economy, and supporting an important industry".

However, Scottish Conservatives argued there needed to be a more "robust" exemption scheme, with housing spokesman Miles Briggs saying: "Scots will be pretty unhappy when they realise that they will have to pay a 10% tax to stay in a hotel when their house is flooded."

The new law means Scotland joins Manchester, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole in charging tourists to stay the night.

Manchester's £1-a-night City Visitor Charge was introduced last April, and is estimated to have raised around £2.8m in its first year.

European hotspots like Barcelona and Venice have also introduced tourist taxes, with the Spanish city charging visitors €3.25 if they're staying in official accommodation.

Workers posing as Disney favourites such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Snow White in California have formed a union - Magic United.

There are roughly 1,700 performers and assistants who help to bring popular characters to life at Disneyland near Los Angeles.

Disney has faced allegations of not paying them a living wage, despite many facing exorbitant housing costs and commuting long distances.

Parade performers and character actors earn a base pay of $24.15 (£19) an hour, up from $20 (£15.75) before January.

Read on here... 

Nike is celebrating a partial victory over rival brand Adidas in court, as it has been permitted to put three stripes on some of its clothing designs in Germany.

The decision came during a second appeal hearing between the two sportswear brands at a regional court in Dusseldorf.

The court previously barred Nike from using two or three stripes on five trouser designs due to a lawsuit filed by Adidas in 2022, which is on a mission to protect its trademark three-stripe design.

Following the appeal, Nike can now use the stripes on four disputed trouser designs, while a ban for one is still in place.

Adidas has filed dozens of lawsuits and signed hundreds of settlement agreements related to its three-tripe design since 2008.

The Conservatives and Labour have ruled out VAT hikes if either party wins the election.

Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, said tax rises on products and services would "hammer families' finances", while shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said Labour did not plan to raise tax, national insurance or VAT.

The pledges come after the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the next UK government would face the toughest fiscal inheritance in 70 years.

Ms Reeves said: "I want taxes on working people to be lower, not higher."

New tax rises were restricted to those policies already announced, such as a plan to charge 20% VAT on private school fees, she said.

Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Hunt said: "We won't increase the main rate of VAT for the duration of the next Parliament."

He continued: "A VAT increase will hammer families' finances and push inflation back up."

He urged Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to make a similar commitment "on camera".

Follow all the latest election campaign news live in the Politics Hub ...

People who bank with TSB have had trouble getting into the mobile app this morning.

Many took to social media to report difficulty logging in to their accounts.

The official X account of TSB, responding to several complaints about the app being down earlier, said: "We're aware that customers are experiencing issues with our digital services. We're sorry for any inconvenience and are working hard to resolve it."

One customer reported that the app had remained down overnight:

In an updated statement, the bank said the issue has now been resolved.

"We're sorry for any inconvenience it caused," it said.

By Daniel Binns, business reporter

Shares in Auto Trader have rocketed more than 13% to a record high this morning.

It comes after the company reported a bumper set of results for the 2023/24 financial year - including a 26% rise in group operating profits.

The online car marketplace says recent demand has been strong - and it expects its performance to continue.

Dr Martens is also up on the FTSE 250 index - despite revealing it suffered an almost 43% fall in pre-tax profits during the 12 months to March (read more below...)

Its shares climbed more than 9% at one point earlier this morning, but have since eased back to almost 6%.

The British footwear brand has said it is "confident" it can revive its fortunes and says it plans to make savings of up to £25m to turn things around.

Elsewhere, the FTSE 100 is pretty flat - it opened 0.2% down but is currently up by a tiny 0.03%.

Mining firm Anglo American is among the companies hit by falls this morning.

Its shares have dropped by just over 1% after its rival BHP Group walked away from a proposed £38.5bn takeover of the company.

On the currency markets, £1 buys $1.27 US or €1.17 (or €1.1753, to be precise).

It comes after the pound reached a 19-month high against the Euro at one point yesterday - with £1 equalling €1.1784 - before later dropping back down.

The cost of a barrel of benchmark Brent crude has dipped slightly compared to yesterday. The price is $83 (£65).

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    Tax-free shopping. You can only buy tax-free goods from shops: in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) if they're delivered straight to an address outside the UK. in Northern Ireland if ...

  2. VAT Refunds for UK Visitors

    Once the form is approved by customs officials, the refund can be obtained in on of the 3 ways you may have agreed with the retailer namely: 1. To post the form back to the retailer for payment of the refund. 2. To post the form back to a commercial refund company so they can arrange payment of your refund. 3.

  3. 'As a tourist to the UK, can I still claim a VAT refund on goods

    AW, Abu Dhabi. It used to be the case that international travellers could reclaim VAT paid on many newly purchased items when leaving the UK. As the rate of VAT in the UK is 20 per cent on most goods, this could be a significant sum. This situation has now changed and this option was cancelled with effect from January 1, 2021, a date when many ...

  4. Tax-free shopping in London

    Value-added tax (VAT) is a 20% sales tax charged on most goods in the UK. Visitors from outside the EU were eligible for tax-free shopping until January 2021. Tax-free sales at airports, ports and Eurostar stations ended as of 1 January 2021. Up until 1 January 2021, if you lived outside the EU and travelled to the UK for leisure or business ...

  5. Brexit wiped out tax-free shopping for tourists in the UK ...

    It allowed them to get a refund on value-added tax (VAT) on items bought in high street shops, ... But travel and retail chiefs say that it is a "hammer blow" for tourism in the UK.

  6. UK brings back duty-free shopping, VAT refund scheme

    By David Flynn, September 24 2022. Share this article: Overseas visitors to the UK will one again be able to enjoy duty-free shopping and a refund of the VAT sales tax. The British government controversially scrapped almost all duty free sales and VAT tax refunds for visitors from January 1 2021, saying the scheme cost over £1bn in lost revenue.

  7. What is the 'tourism tax' affecting London's economy and how might it

    Until January 2021, visitors to the UK from outside the EU were able to get a VAT refund on their shopping. VAT, which stands for value-added tax, is a 20 per cent sales tax charged on items in ...

  8. Can tourists claim VAT back in UK 2023?

    The UK tax back or refund tourist: In general, tourists who are visiting the UK from outside the European Union (EU) can claim a vat back or refund UK on the VAT they pay for eligible goods they purchase during their stay. However, it is important to note that the rules for vat refund UK may vary depending on the country you are visiting from ...

  9. VAT-free shopping re-introduced to Great Britain

    Since the UK left the EU at the end of 2020, VAT-free shopping has only been available in Northern Ireland. As part of its plan for growth, the government has committed to reintroducing a VAT-free shopping scheme to Great Britain. This would enable non-UK visitors to Great Britain to obtain a VAT refund on goods bought in the high street ...

  10. Duty-free shopping to be reinstated for overseas visitors to the UK

    Duty-free shopping in the UK will be reintroduced for overseas visitors, the country's new chancellor announced on Friday. Tourists will soon be able to claim all value-added tax paid on goods in plans unveiled by the government. Shoppers used to be able to reclaim the taxes before they left the country at airports and refund agencies. But ...

  11. How to Claim a Tax Refund When Shopping in London

    When making a purchase, ask the retailer for a VAT Refund Form (also called a VAT 407 form). The retailer might ask for your passport to verify that you're eligible for the refund. Complete and sign the VAT Refund Form. To claim a VAT refund on goods that will be packed into checked luggage, go to customs before security at the airport, where ...

  12. Ending VAT-free shopping 'will hit UK tourism and retail'

    Getty Images. A government plan to end VAT-free shopping for international visitors at the end of the year could cost the UK billions of pounds in lost income, travel and retail bosses have warned ...

  13. UK Reinstates VAT Refund Policies for Tourists

    Luxury brands hailed the decision, as a boost to tourism and shopping. After all, for, let's say Americans, why shop in London when the cost is effectively 10-15% lower in Paris. ... As you may recall, effective January 2021, the UK dropped the tax refund advantage at the same time that it might have applied to EU visitors due to Brexit ...

  14. Tax-free UK shopping can help more than just tourists

    In 2022, the average tourist would have saved 4.2 per cent on their total spending in the UK had the scheme existed, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research. It suggests that ...

  15. Claim personal allowances and tax refunds if you live abroad (R43)

    Download PDF claim form R43. Use Guidance notes for form R43 (2023) (PDF, 247 KB, 16 pages); Fill in the form. Post it to us. You can check National Archives for claim forms and notes for previous ...

  16. Irish shoppers may win as UK plans return of VAT refunds for tourists

    Fri Sep 23 2022 - 17:56. Irish visitors to Britain could save 20 per cent on their holiday shopping following a significant overhaul of the UK's VAT regime announced by the British chancellor ...

  17. VAT refunds when leaving the UK

    The VAT Retail Export Scheme, also known as tax-free shopping, allows VAT on purchases made in Northern Ireland to be claimed back in certain circumstances, when those goods are taken out of the EU. The scheme also applied to England, Scotland and Wales (that is, Great Britain) for purchases made on or before 31 December 2020. Tax-free shopping ...

  18. Say goodbye to UK tax refunds: Here's how travellers can still shop tax

    While the end of tax refunds in the UK may be disappointing for international shoppers, you can still make the most of your shopping experience by exploring options like getting tax-free shipping at Selfridges and taking advantage of VAT refunds in France with Wevat. Remember to plan your purchases wisely, consider the costs and benefits, and ...

  19. High-spending tourists turn to European neighbours after UK axes tax

    But the figure increased by as much as 126 per cent in France, 101 per cent in Spain, and 90 per cent in Italy. Data suggests the tax-free perk used to be a key driver of spending among tourists ...

  20. Restore tax-free shopping for visitors to the UK, urges tourist industry

    Businesses say that making EU residents eligible for tax free shopping could also help the tourism sector. Before Brexit , only shoppers from non-EU countries were able to claim VAT refunds.

  21. Tax-free shopping for international visitors

    Tax-free shopping for international visitors (252 KB , PDF) A debate on tax-free shopping for international visitors is to be held in Westminster Hall on 7 September 2023 at 3pm. The subject has been chosen by the Backbench Business Committee, and the debate was requested by Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown. The debate will last 90 minutes.

  22. Over 60 places around the world charge tourist taxes

    The content is produced solely by The Conversation. CNN —. In April 2024, Venice began its controversial experiment to charge day trippers €5 ($5.40) to visit the city on some of the busiest ...

  23. What is the Edinburgh tourist tax? Who will pay and how much? All you

    A tourist tax has been talked about for so long, it feels like all the arguments have been had. But the proposed legislation will have to go through the parliamentary process and be passed by MSPs.

  24. Money blog: Scotland introducing tourist taxes

    A black dress described as "flowing voluminous" is €29.95 over there, but £35.99 (€42.27) in the UK. These men's "balloon fit" jeans are €35.95 in Spain, but £45.99 (€54.01) in the UK. A ...

  25. Anti-tourism protesters plan to 'storm the beaches' in Majorca

    Anti-tourism protesters are planning further demonstrations in Majorca as locals speak out about the negative impact of mass-tourism. The group Mallorca Platja Tour is urging residents to "occupy the beaches" this Saturday, June 1, with more protests planned for Sunday, June 16. The first protest is set to take place in Sa Rapita beach, on ...

  26. Check how to claim a tax refund

    Check how to claim a tax refund. You may be able to get a tax refund (rebate) if you've paid too much tax. Use this tool to find out what you need to do if you paid too much on: pay from a job ...