Love to travel? Love to shop?
You’re not alone. Shopping is a favorite pastime for most travellers. Unfortunately, too many of us are unwittingly leaving tax-free money on the shop counter after our trip.
Are You Down With VAT?
A hidden-in-plain-sight way to save money as you shop for clothes, antiques, souvenirs and the like, is to take advantage of the value-added tax (VAT) refund (or goods and services tax (GST) refund).
Most countries charge a VAT or GST on hotel rooms, tourism activities, and goods sold. This tax can be pretty hefty — like 20 percent on top of the retail price in the United Kingdom.
Luckily, many of these countries offer full or partial VAT refunds to foreign tourists.
To determine if a refund is offered in the country you plan to visit, check out our collection of BYG (Before You Go) Guides for countries offering VAT refunds to tourists.
Each country has unique rules and guidelines on what can be refunded, to what amount, etc. So be sure to review a country’s VAT refund website before your trip.
In most cases, you’ll have to submit your refund application in-person at customs or a VAT Refund desk in the airport before your exit flight. At the very least, you’ll need a completed refund application, your passport, and receipts for all of your refund-eligible purchases.
Let’s say you spend $500 on jewelry and home decor items during a sojourn in London. By taking advantage of the U.K.’s VAT refund, you could get upwards of $100 returned to your wallet…
And return home with a smile on your face and an extra pep in your step!