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How to shop tax free with AIRVAT?

  • Download the app and register your account before making purchases.
  • Shop in any UK store, take your purchase receipts, but don’t request an in-store tax refund form.
  • There is no minimum purchase amount restriction but there are extra conditions for goods costing over £250 (see below).
  • Take pictures inside the app of all your till receipts as early as possible.
  • You can upload as many receipts as you wish. Airvat will generate a tax free form listing all your verified purchases.
  • Print your Airvat tax free form before going to the airport.
  • Follow the instructions inside the app of how to get your Airvat tax refund form authorised by Customs at your specific departure airport.
  • Receive your VAT refund 2-8 weeks after departure. The payment will be made electronically to your nominated account without any hidden fees or exchange rate mark-up.

In which countries can I use AIRVAT?

  • On purchases made in the UK only.
  • You can however arrive in and depart from any other EU countries during your visit to the EU.

How long does receipt verification take?

  • Upload your receipts as early as possible and avoid leaving this until just before your departure. This will allow sufficient time for the purchases to be reviewed.
  • Most receipts are processed within 4 hours, however, this can take longer during busy periods or outside of usual business hours.
  • In the unlikely event that your receipts have not been processed within 24 hours, or you have an imminent departure, please contact us info@airvat.com

Who can shop tax free?

  • Anyone who does not permanently live in the EU and is visiting the UK on holiday or business.
  • EU nationals living outside the EU for 12 months or more. Note, you may need to provide proof of your non-EU residency e.g. foreign visa, residence permit, or evidence of occupation or study.
  • Anyone studying or working in the EU can get a tax refund on purchases made in the final 3 months before permanently going back home. Note, you may need to show evidence to Customs officers that:
    1. you do not plan to return back to live in the EU for at least 12 months (examples of acceptable evidence are a non-EU employment contract, University enrolment, or tenancy agreement translated into English), and
    2. your study or employment in the UK has ended (for example, a UK graduation certificate, employment or tenancy termination letters).
  • Important! It is your responsibility to be able to prove to Customs officers that you live or intend to live outside the EU. Do not attempt to make invalid VAT refund claims as defrauding Customs is a serious criminal offence.

What purchases qualify for tax refund?

  • Items purchased in physical retail stores only (i.e. not online purchases).
  • Goods must be for personal use and taken out of the EU in your personal luggage within 3 months of purchase.
  • Most common tax free shopping purchases are clothes, fashion accessories, jewelry, portable electronics, souvenirs, and cosmetics.
  • Your tax free shopping must be unused, still in its original packaging, and available for Customs inspection when leaving the EU.

What purchases DON’T qualify for tax refund with Airvat?

  • Purchases made prior to your arrival date or registering your Airvat app account.
  • Purchases for which you already received a tax free form in-store.
  • Online shopping.
  • Services (e.g. hotel stays, tickets, restaurant food, car rentals, gas);
  • Children's clothing.
  • Books.
  • Basic food items such as coffee, tea, honey, etc (i.e. most items bought in a supermarket).
  • Goods couriered or posted directly to your home country.
  • Anything that you can’t physically put in your luggage to take home and show to Customs for inspection at the airport.

What is a tax free form?

  • Airvat consolidates all of your verified receipts from different stores into a single tax free form.
  • The tax free form also contains some required information such as your passport details, permanent non-EU address, and trip dates, which are automatically filled in for you when you complete your details inside the Airvat app.
  • You will need to print, date and sign your Airvat tax free form before presenting it to Customs at the airport.
  • Customs will stamp the form after checking your original purchase receipts and inspecting the goods.
  • Airvat will only be able to make your refund payment after receiving the stamped original tax free form in our office, which usually takes 2-8 weeks from departure.

The store has already issued their own tax free form

  • You will not be able to claim your refund via the Airvat app if the store has already issued their own tax refund form to you.
  • If you have been issued with an in-store tax form but instead would like to receive a refund via Airvat, you will have to return the in-store tax form to the shop and exchange it for an ordinary till receipt. This till receipt can then be uploaded into the Airvat app.
  • Retailers use companies such as Global Blue and Planet Tax Free to issue tax forms at the till when requested by customers.
  • In-store VAT refund forms will usually be printed as till receipts but they will also state “Tax Free” or the name of the refund company, and may be stamped “Tax Free Form Issued” or “VAT Exports”.

What receipts are valid for tax refund with Airvat?

  • You must upload a full clear image of the entire original paper receipt capturing all four corners (images taken from screens of other devices or photocopies are not accepted).
  • On the receipt cross out any items that you have used or would not be able to show at Customs before uploading it into the Airvat app.
  • Forward e-receipts to info@airvat.com (note that screenshots of e-receipts are not accepted).
  • If you have previously exchanged items on your receipts, make sure to include both the original and new purchase receipts side-by-side captured together in one image.
  • Each receipt must be below £250 and contain the following information:
    1. VAT rate or amount;
    2. Retailer’s name and address;
    3. Retailer’s VAT registration number;
    4. Receipt date and number;
    5. Goods description, quantity, and price.

Purchasing goods over £250?

  • The £250 limit applies per receipt (i.e. not per item).
  • To avoid exceeding the limit you can pay for items in the same shop separately so as to obtain several receipts each below £250.
  • If you are purchasing individual items above £250, ask the shop assistant to issue a VAT business invoice addressed to Airvat:
    AIRVAT ltd
    20-22 Wenlock Road,
    London, N1 7GU
    United Kingdom
    VAT number 312 0922 50

How and where can I print my tax free form?

  • Print the form before going to the airport.
  • Ask at your hotel reception, or search online to find the nearest “print shop”, “internet cafe”, Ryman stationery shop, or Snappy Snaps printing specialist.
  • If your form consists of multiple pages, it must be printed on single-sided paper sheets. Do not staple the pages together.
  • The form can be printed either in colour or black and white.
  • Ensure that you sign and date the form in the Customer’s Signature box.

Is my tax refund guaranteed?

  • Yes, provided you get your printed Airvat tax free form stamped by Customs at the departure airport before leaving the EU.
  • Read instructions on how to get your tax form authorised by Customs in advance of your trip to the airport. Select your specific departure terminal inside the app by pressing on the stamp button.

What do I need to do at the Airport?

  • You will need to have your goods inspected and the Airvat tax form stamped by Customs before departure from the EU.
  • No stamp, no refund!
  • Read instructions on how to get your tax form authorised by Customs in advance of your trip to the airport. Select your specific departure terminal inside the app by pressing on the stamp button.
  • Your goods must be presented unused and in their original packaging.
  • Ensure that all your original receipts are also available for inspection (keep e-receipts saved on your phone as well).
  • If your receipt has been accepted by Airvat but you later decide to consume or leave any item behind, please delete the receipt inside the app and generate a new tax form before going to the airport.
  • Only present the tax form containing the correct list of goods available for inspection.
  • Important! Customs will invalidate your entire refund if you fail to show any of the items listed on your tax form.
  • Important! Do not attempt to make invalid or duplicate refund claims for the same items. Misleading or defrauding Customs is a serious criminal offence.

UK is not my final departure point from the EU

  • If you have a connecting flight that leaves the EU within 24 hours after your departure from a UK airport, UK Customs will stamp your tax free form.
  • If you are making an extended stop-over or continuing your trip to another EU country before flying home, you will need to get Customs authorisation at your final EU departure airport and post the original stamped form to us:
    AIRVAT ltd
    20-22 Wenlock Road,
    London, N1 7GU
    United Kingdom

When do I receive my refund?

  • Your refund will be paid as soon as Airvat receives your original stamped tax form in our office.
  • Depending on the Customs procedure at your specific departure airport, the payment can take 2-8 weeks after your departure.
  • Some airport Customs are faster than others at processing the tax forms and unfortunately it is outside of our control.
  • Select the stamp button inside the app to learn about the specific procedure at your departure terminal prior to going to the airport.

How do I receive my refund?

  • Select your prefered refund method inside the app.
  • We support Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, WeChat Pay, and bank transfers.
  • Your refund method can be different to how you paid for the goods in-store.
  • We do not offer cash refunds at the airport. All payments will be made electronically directly into your nominated account 2-8 weeks after your departure.
  • Your refund amount as stated on the tax form will be paid in British Pounds (GBP) and converted into the currency of the nominated account by your receiving bank.
  • Airvat does not charge any hidden payment fees or mark-up the exchange rate.
  • Note that there is no need to write your credit card or account number by hand on the Airvat tax form at the airport.

Does AIRVAT charge any fees or commissions?

  • Yes. We charge a flat fee of 20% of the VAT amount without hidden charges or exchange rate mark-up.
  • Your tax free form will show the exact amount of fees charged, or it can also be calculated inside the app using our VAT refund calculator.
  • Our fee will always be much less than when getting an in-store tax refund form from the shop where you bought the goods.
  • A typical Airvat customer on average receives 50% more refund relative to using an in-store tax refund service.

What is VAT?

  • Value Added Tax (VAT), also known as Goods and Services Tax (GST) in some countries, is a sales tax already included in the price of your purchase.
  • The tax is charged by the UK government at 20% of the net price (i.e. the price before the tax), which is equal to 16.67% of the gross price (i.e. the price actually paid by you in store).
  • This means that if you made a £100 purchase, the VAT amount would actually be £16.67 (and not £20 as commonly thought).
  • Note that some goods such as children’s clothes, books, tea, coffee, and most supermarket food have 0% VAT rate, hence, there is nothing to refund.
  • Non-EU residents are entitled to claim their tax back on eligible goods they take home with them at the end of their visit.

What is AIRVAT’s legal status?

  • Airvat ltd is a limited company incorporated in England and operating under the Retail Export Scheme (commonly known as tax free shopping) with the supervision of HMRC, UK’s tax authority.
  • Airvat’s tax free form is a bespoke VAT407 form approved by HMRC.
  • Airvat develops software to automate and simplify the tax refund process in the UK and its operating model is in line with HMRC’s “Making Tax Digital" strategy.

Any other questions?

Email us on info@airvat.com