But you can save a TON of money by doing this!
If you are not an EU citizen, you can reclaim most of the VAT/IVA on your purchases (electronics, shoes, etc.) when you leave the European Union. I had bought a new iPhone 4S in the UK and I reclaimed around GBP 57 on a GBP 499 product. Pretty cool, eh?
So here’s how this works. When you buy your items, request a VAT Reclaim receipt/form at the store. Usually this will be a receipt/form from the store specifying the VAT reclaim amount and some other things such as a few fields to enter your personal details (name, country of residence, address, etc.).
The process to get this money back is quite simple. Also, it’s not a problem if you made your purchase in the UK and are exiting the EU from another country (Spain, in my case).
Once you’re at the airport, go through immigration. After immigration, there will be a customs booth where you can get your receipt stamped for VAT reclaim. Then, head to the Global Blue counter and they will give you the entire refund in cash.
I was actually surprised that they gave me cash since the reclaim form offered credit card refund/check as the available options. They converted the GBP 57 to EUR 66.50 (a pretty decent exchange rate considering the mid-market rate would have got me EUR 67 on the day..) and paid me right there.
So that’s how you get to do a VAT refund when you leave the UK/EU, please note that this has to be within 3 months from the date of purchase.
All you need is your refund receipt and proof that you actually have the items with you.