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The Gatwick VAT refund

Save where you can, it all helps

Every time I pass through London or the UK, I try and pick up some high ticket items like iPhones or a laptop. One of the big advantages is getting the tax back, which is now 20% in the UK.

Assuming you have received the piece of paper from the store when you bought the item, the next step is to go to nice (not !) customs man at the airport. London Gatwick South has recently been remodeled making things harder to find. Or more to the point, they want to make sure you spend more should I say. (The free water fountains have been boarded up, so go buy that bottled water).

Immediately you come out of security before you are channeled through what seems like the world’s biggest duty free shop (which is of course not duty free), you need to take a sharp left down the grim looking corridor to find the customs man who will stamp your piece of paper the store gave you. Hopefully he will be in a decent mood :) Once done, you can go to the travelex fx counter where they will give you cash and take another few percent off you, or if you can, post the form back in the post box situated in the main hall. I would say ask the Information desk but that seems to have been removed too…

Is tax free worth it? Well, the company that does the paperwork takes about 7% and the cash in the hand another 3% or so so just about, but the UK is not the cheapest place to shop so if you can buy in the US!

On a similar topic, no shops airside at Gatwick South terminal are duty free now. They seem to be in some strange zone where they charge VAT but you cannot get it refunded. Sure it makes sense to someone !

Tags : airports

Written : 2014-11-04

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