mercredi, septembre 23, 2009

Claiming 'GST' or 'VAT' from shopping in EU

A friend asked if it was possible to claim tax rebates in London on purchases done in Paris. I remembered Ian telling me that it was possible but troublesome. So I dropped him a message via Facebook and he sent me this long email. Very kind of him.

I thought this info might be useful for other travellers. So here's the copy and paste email with authorisation to publish from the owner. Thanks Ian!

Ok... There are 2 ways for declaring the goods that you want to claiming the 'GST' (VAT), and then after declaring them, there are 2 ways of claiming back the money. (This is based on what I saw and gone through at LV in France, and leaving Europe (EU) via London Heaththrow) as the last port. It must only be claimed from the last port, and yes UK is part of EU especially for this reason.

After buying the goods, you will need to get the vendor to provide the tax invoice, plus fill out all the details to the vendor(retail shop).The vendor should also provide a self addressed envelope (reputableones).

At this point, I suggest you first write down on a piece of paper, some details of what you are claiming, from where, the currency (Euro orPounds), the invoice numbers, and the values and what you believe are the claim back amounts. You may have more than 1 item to claim, and writing these and totalling them up before going to the airport, will save you a lot of hassle. Plus, when you go home and check credit card/bank statements.

At London Heaththrow, you can:
Method 1 for declaring goods) "If the item is too big, and need to check in to plane's cargo" Method.You need to arrive really early and queue in a damn long queue to declare the goods with Tax Refund Counter, with the invoice, which is located before check-in counters (i.e. located before going through customs). After Tax Refund Counter Officer checks goods and rubber stamps the invoice (you must make sure they do this!), you can then either mail the invoice back to the vendor, or go to "Travelex (orsimilar)".

Method 2 for declaring goods) "If the item is hand-carry-able, and no need to check in to plane's cargo" Method.You can checkin and clear customs first. There is ANOTHER Tax Refund Counter after checkin, which is normally shorter, because a lot of people either don't know about this counter, or their items are too large or dangerous to hand-carry, and had to checkin to the plane's cargo. BUT, to do this method, you MUST hand carry the item, and show the Tax Refund Officer your goods. Obviously, this is the same as method1 above as well, so as to prove to the officers what you are claiming.Again, please make sure they rubber stamp the invoice. Again, same as above, after Tax Refund Counter Officer checks goods and rubber stamps the invoice, you can then either mail the invoice back to the vendor, or go to "Travelex (or similar)".

Ok, you have declared the goods, now the money....

Alternative 1 for claiming back the money) If doing the mailing method,remember to buy a UK stamp with enough value to send it back to the country of the vendor. (For me that was sending it back to LV, so I had to buy a stamp with suitable value at a post office.) You should buy a stamp before going to the airport if you decide to do this, because you don't want to go to another queue to post office .. Etc.. Whilst rushing to checkin in one of the busiest airport in the world (Heathrow)! Then just drop it into the mailbox!

Alternative 2 for claiming back the money) If you want the cash back immediately, then you can take the rubber stamped invoice and the credit card (the same one you used to buy the product), to Travelex or one of these finance companies. I didn't go through this method, but I think they take a fee from your claim. You get the money back on your card,but the queue to this is quite long. You can do this alternative both before customs checkin, or after customs checkin. But both queues are very very long. Maybe they did not remember to buy the UK stamp?? But especially if your VAT claim back value is small, and you don't have to depend on the money to live for the next few days... I don't see the point of giving these finance companies the business.

My Thoughts....Heathrow is really really busy and packed full of people. Although they are trying to make things as quick as possible, it's the volume of travellers, communication barriers, and the lack of space that is making it so congested. It give opportunities for pickpockets, and other hassles like long queues. Hence, I personally prefer the least hassle method, because I don't want to risk running late for the plane.So, I pre-bought a stamp, did the hand-carry method of declaring tax,and put my claim in the mail. Even this quick method, took me half hour minimum. Clearly, depending on time of day of departure flights, these queues may get shorter, or longer!

Hope that helps.... I know its wordy.. But seriously its not that difficult.

2 commentaires:

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