VAT refund at Heathrow Airport for expensive goods

  1. I would like to ask you about the process of VAT refund at Heathrow Airport.

    I was told that if your total amount is over let's say 3000-4000 pounds, you can not get VAT refund at the VAT office before check-in (the one near the check-in counters), but you have to go through the passport control and try another VAT office in the Duty Free area.

    Is that right?

    My friend told me that the one before check-in is quite easy - just show your form and they give you the stamp without really checking your purchase. But the one after the immigration is very strict - you have to show everything you purchased with the forms (possibly in the original packaging)

    I would like to avoid taking everything through immigration as the boxes could be incredibly bulky! :graucho:

    So I would be very grateful if any of you who have had similar experience could tell me how easy it is to claim VAT refund for expensive goods at Heathrow.

    I have claimed VAT refund there before but never for the goods worth over 5000 pounds... So any info would be greatly appreciated.:biggrin:

    (I started a similar post in the "General Shopping" section, but thought it is more appropriate to post it here. Please delete/move the post in the "general shopping" section if it is not appropriate)
  2. You have to show the goods after immigration I'm afraid. The boxes and packaging aren't necessary but you will have to show your Birkin and the receipt. you still need to get the VAT desk before passport control (landside) to stamp your form and then you go through to airside to show your bag and collect your refund.
  3. >Syma, thank you so much for your kind comment. ;)

    How come it is so complicated?!?!

    So I have to show the bag and get a stamp at the VAT desk (landside) before check-in and after that , take the bag through the immigration and go to another VAT desk (airside) in the Duty Free area and show the bag again and collect my refund....

    Does that apply even if I want the money to be paid back on to my credit card (rather than get it in cash??)

    It is normally much simpler, isn't it.
    I guess it is because the bag costs over a certain amount...?
  4. I think it is hit or miss at the VAT counter in Heathrow. Do you mean a total of 3-4K in purchase or in VAT?

    Sometimes they approve everything and give you the cash (if that is the method of refund you chose) before check-in. In my experience, very rarely do they ask to see the merchandise.

    When i bought my mini constance, medor clutch and Kelly ( all bought and VAT claimed at different times) they did not ask to see the goods. But they have asked me to show my Jige clutch after check-in.

    Just this past Sunday, my in-laws claimed VAT at the airport to the same amount that you had mentioned. This time they did not give the cash before check-in and they circled some items to be shown after check-in- all jewellery and not necessarily the most expensive. MIL bought a Kelly Danse and that went through unchecked but they had asked to see a VCA bracelet, a ring and some cuff links. HTH!:biggrin:
  5. I just claimed VAT this week from Heathrow. My total for purchases was about 3000pounds with some more expensive Hermes and Chanel items thrown in. I claimed my vat before immigration and it was a relatively painless process as they did not ask to see any items but did ask what the items were. They also asked to see my suitcases and I just pointed to them without having to open anything. But my suggestion is to go very early to get it done. I was in terminal 4 which is not such a busy airport but even at 8am, I had to wait in line for an hour.

    So in a nutshell, there is only 1 counter now that you have to go to get your VAT refund vs. the old procees of getting it stamped with a customs officer and then go to the refund desk. And there was no neccesity to go to the VAT desk after immigration in my case perhaps because I did not buy any jewelery/ watches/computers etc.
  6. #6 Jan 7, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
    >misssA (hello and happy new year! :balloon: )

    thanks so much for your input!

    the bit I don't understand is you handed in your forms to get them stamped and you had to go to another VAT desk after check-in??

    from my experience, i have only been to one VAT counter and they dealt with everything there and then. (no more need to go to another VAT counter after check-in) that is the mystery i don't understand. for example, bagfreak48 didn't have to go to another VAT desk after check-in... what is the difference???

    actually the goods i am talking about here is a birkin!!!! :yahoo:
    so not 3000-4000, but about 5400 pounds now...
    but i was told by my friend that when it is about 3000-4000 pounds, they get very strict and tried to check everything....

    my intension is just to get a stamp for the bag and put it in the suitcase, rather than take it through the immigration and carry it all the way during the flight as a hand baggage (which i think is a pain).

    i will pm you later on. ;)


    thank you so much for your comment. :biggrin:

    does terminal 4 have a VAT desk before check-in????
    I didn't know that. I was told that it is only terminal 3 that has a VAT counter before check-in.

    Oh, so it is good to know that it is relatively painless to claim the VAT at terminal 4, even for expensive goods. my claim would be about 5000 pounds so fingers crossed.... but as the others suggest, it looks like i have to take the goods with me to the other side (airside) and show it to someone again to get refund... hmm... i really don't understand that.

    thanks again for your comment. :tup:
  7. hi Mme CLMdeF,

    Happy New Year to you too!! You finally got your Birkin!! CONGRATULATIONS!! :yahoo::yahoo:

    Yes at the counter before check-in they will stamp your forms and usually give you the refund there and then but sometimes, after they have checked and stamped your forms, you will have to go to another counter after check-in to show your item/s and then get the refund.

    My family comes over twice a year for the past 5-6 years and of all the times we claimed VAT, only twice did we have to show some of our goods inside. Most recently, the VAT came up to GBP2500 in total but we didnt have to show everything after check-in, just some items.

    But as bagfreak48 said, it is no hassle at all. We make sure we have plenty of time to spare to allow for the long queues at the VAT counter.

    Looking forward to your PM.:graucho:
  8. Many congrats on getting your new B! I'm sure everyone has had various different experiences, but I have gone through the Birkin VAT refund process twice with my SIL and her purchases. I wouldn't risk packing your birkin and then asking for a refund based on the receipt. Be prepared to hand carry your Birkin, because both times her forms were stamped before immigration at the VAT counter near check in and she was asked to show her Birkin at the counter after immigration and check in to get her refund. This is regardless of a cash/CC refund. I know it sounds long winded but they do this to avoid fraudelent claims and need to make sure that the goods are really leaving the EU in order to warrant a VAT return. When you have multiple purchases equalling a large amount they are less strict and allow for the fact that you will not hand carry them all. Personally I wouldn't check a £5400 bag in my suitcase anyway!!!
  9. >misssA

    Yes, finally!!

    I see. So they sometimes tell us to go to another counter which is located in the Duty Free area.
    The problem for me is that as well as having to carry a hand luggage like B, I will have my 4-year-old daughter with me (sans my husband) after the check-in and I don't think she will stand with me in a queue for more than ... 10 mins?!

    She will probably run off somewhere else and I don't think I can stay in the queue to get refund!!
    If it is before check-in, my husband will be with me and he can keep an eye on her so it won't be a big deal...

    Anyway, let's see.

    Have been meaning to pm you, but my daughter's nursery has been closed due to the weather and I have had very little free time for myself for the past 3 days!!! :pout:


    Thank you so much. :biggrin:
    I recently saw your reveal, too! Congratulations on your new kelly!! :yahoo:
    So beautiful and classic.
    You also managed to score it before the price increase. Lucky you! :tender:

    Thank you so much for clarifying that out, too.
    I gather for a bag like Birkin, they will ask me to show it at the counter after immigration. The problem for me is, as I said above, my little devil...
    Well, I will just have to prepare for the worst and get lots of little things to destruct her while in a queue!
  10. I have been doing VAT refunds at Heathrow for the past 15 years. I have always had to show my items, no matter what. It is not that much of a pain when I consider how much I save!! You do it before immigration, show the goods, get the stamp, etc. After immigration, you go to the VAT booth and get the cash/credit. I am not aware of any limit on the VAT refund, and I've had a few heftier ones. eek. The smaller ones, I just take the cash so that I have some GBP for my next trip.
  11. Congrats on geting your birkin!!!!
    Don't know anything about reclaiming VAT at Heathrow but I would recomend not to check in a birkin since most normal insurance companies will not cover the loss if your bag gets lost. The airlines do not cover that large amounts of checked in luggaged so if you plan to check it in I would really check with your insurance company before doing so.
  12. ITA! Regardless of the VAT claim process, it is not worthwhile to check your birkin in your luggage unless you have purchased extra insurance for them!
  13. >hermesmonkey, ladyhermes, hanyeu,

    I apologise for the delay in thanking you all!

    I have to listen to words from the wise people.
    Yes, I thought about security issues actually, but didn't really think about checking the insurance policy.

    From what I heard on this thread, I will have to take the bag through immigration to get refund so maybe I won't be able to check in B in my suitcase...

    Thank you so much for your suggestion! :biggrin:
  14. HI Everyone,

    I am heading over to London as my first stop in March, so if I purchase things there but Im heading to Paris and Milan after, do I go to get my VAT refunds when I return back to London to catch my flight back home or how does this work? Thanks! Just a llittle confusing ...