Iphone in UK - VAT refund?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by dj4hill, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. dj4hill macrumors newbie

    Dec 14, 2008
    Does anyone know if there will be any problems getting the VAT refunded on an iPhone purchased in the UK?

    I will be in the UK next week. Purchasing at full price, but getting 15% back upon leaving the country makes the total cost only about 10% higher than the listed US price for an iPhone 3GS 32GB.

    Would an apple shop be the best place to do this? Maybe they would deliberately not carry the VAT refund forms to try and stop this?
  2. itou macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    first of all, you don't get 15% back.
    there's a service charge that you must pay which makes the refund somewhat less.
  3. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    U need your passport and proof of address to do this but any business has the right to refuse.

    You can get the forms from the tax office to claim back the vat if you really want to.
  4. jzuena macrumors 6502a


    Feb 21, 2007
    Lexington, MA, USA
    I thought businesses can refuse to do it for you on the spot but you still have the option to go to the customs area at Heathrow and fill out the forms there. And then there is no service charge, either.

    To the OP, what benefit is there to getting it in the UK? Are the phones unlocked there? I thought the unlocked ones (from sources like Italy) were still much more than 10% higher than the subsidized price from places like AT&T.
  5. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    You will find it very hard to get the VAT back. It is generally only shops specializing in selling to tourists that are equipped to fill out the paperwork you need. The Apple Stores are not tourist shops.
  6. omarjk macrumors regular

    Jan 20, 2008
    London, UK
    I am thankfully not a tax specialist but there has been a deviation from reality in the responses the OP has received here. Although the OP may have been and gone to the UK by now, I am answering these well-meaning comments for anyone who comes across this thread when doing VAT research in the future.

    Not quite right. Retailers have the right to levy an admin fee, and even in expensive stores such as Harrods (where Apple products can be purchased) they do not charge a fee. Even if there was a charge we are talking 14% off instead of 15% ie saving value will not plummet.

    If the retailer is part of the VAT Retail Export Scheme it will give you the refund. This comment gives the impression that an assistant may arbitrarily refuse to fill out a VAT form with you depending on how he is feeling that day. Sorry, that is false. If the physical Apple Stores offer the facility they will not withdraw it because you, for example, voted Bush.

    If you want to re-claim the VAT, the necessary forms must be filled out in the presence of the retailer.

    Again, if the business is not part of the VAT Retail Export Scheme, or the goods are bought online, no refund.

    I don't know where you got this impression but it is pretty much completely untrue. Most tourist shops in London will be part of the VAT refund scheme but this does not equate to mainly tourist shops being VAT scheme members. Large department stores - John Lewis, Selfridges are part of the scheme.

    See this link for the lowdown:


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