If you are visiting the UK from another country and you buy goods there or do business in the UK, then when you leave, you may be entitled to reclaim up to one sixth of the costs on a range of UK business programmers and expenses from conferences, shows, trade fairs, client meetings, and other costs (hotels, restaurants, meals, car hire, taxis, diesel, petrol, printing materials, stationary etc. incurred for business purposes in the UK.
Usually this will be applicable if you live outside the European Union and you're travelling back to a country outside the EU such as Australia. As a UK VAT registered company one is obligated to file a 'VAT return' every three months.
UK’s VAT is currently at 17.5% with the minimum amount £30 GBP to qualify. On Jan 1, 2010 the Standard UK VAT rate has reverted back to 17.5%. For any VAT activity till 31 December 2009 the rate will be 15% but any VAT activity after Jan 1, 2009 vat rate will be replaced with 17.5%.
Goods you can claim refunds for
You can get VAT reimburse for anything on which you pay VAT in the UK apart from the following:
♦ new or used cars
♦ a boat you plan to sail outside the EU
♦ goods worth more than £600 exported for business purposes
♦ goods to be exported as freight
♦ goods that need an export licence - except antiques
♦ unmounted gemstones
♦ bullion over 125g, 2.75 troy ounces or ten Tolas
♦ mail order goods, including Internet sales
♦ goods used or partly used in the EU, such as perfume
♦ service charges, such as hotel expenses
You cannot claim for: furniture, carpets, curtains, white goods, trees and plants, nor for burglar alarms, professional services, equipment hire, transport of materials and tools used.
UK Claim period : 1st July - 30th June
Official application deadline : 31st December of the same year
One Bridge application deadline : 30th November of the same year
Annual minimum amount : GBP 130
Quarterly minimum amount : GBP 16
Refund circle time : 6 months
However, most overseas visitors can reclaim the VAT by taking advantage of the VAT Retail Export Scheme (often called tax-free shopping).
To qualify for the Scheme, you must:
♦ be an overseas visitor whose place of residence is outside the European Union (EU); and
♦ intend to leave the UK, with the goods, for a destination outside the EU by the last day of the third month in which the goods were purchased
(e.g. if you buy goods on 31 March 2008, you must export those goods by 30 June to be eligible for the Scheme); and
♦ have the goods, receipts and the VAT Refund Form ready for inspection by Customs upon departure from the EU.
If you are studying in the UK
If you're studying in the UK, you are eligible for a VAT refund if you're preparing to leave the EU for at least 12 months.
♦ depart the UK for a destination outside the EU - with the goods you have bought - by the end of the third month after the month when you bought
♦ live outside the EU for at least 12 months
♦ show customs officials the goods, your receipts for them and a completed VAT refund document when you leave the EU
You can receive and submit VAT returns in the basis of monthly, quarterly or annually. The deadlines for submitting your VAT returns and making payments are unchanged. For return periods that cover both before and after 1 January 2010, you have to add together the VAT on sales charged at 15 per cent and the VAT on sales charged at 17.5 per cent to exercises the total VAT on sales to be comprised in box 1 of your VAT return.