Is there a way to claim a UK VAT refund directly and not through agents like GlobalBlue? What do these agents do that they take a massive cut from VAT refunds, for example a £1000 purchase has £166.67 VAT, however if you claim that back through GlobalBlue, they will take £44.67. TaxFree4U is a bit better but will still take £38.

Is there a way to get hold of a UK VAT 407 form and fill it and hand it over to customs to get the money back directly and not through any middlemen?

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    More than a decade ago, for VAT refund in the UK, the retailer had to fill some paperwork which you could then use at the airport to actually get the refund. I tried it back then just to see how it works. For a VAT component of £11, the retailer filled the form and deducted £10 as some sort of administrative fee and the final refund figure was £1! I felt bad for the gentleman who filled the paperwork for a £1 effective potential benefit. I finally decided it's not worth it to stand in the queue in the airport for my £1. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 15:42
  • Yeah, unless you're splashing out on your visit, it's not really worth potentially waiting in line for an hour or so in addition to spending extra time in store to get the correct receipt or consolidate receipts. It feels like the Tax Free shopping is a con; a way for the retailer to get some kind of kickback from the purchase since the VAT would have been due to government, but now they can negotiate with the agent to split the admin fee. Commented Jan 2, 2018 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


AIUI (this is based on what I have read on government sites, I am not a lawyer or an accountant)

When a "retail export" transaction is made the customer doesn't claim the VAT back from the government. Instead the retailer provides the customer with a special form that the customer gets stamped by customs. The form is then returned to the retailer retroactively zero-rates the transaction and refunds the VAT to the customer.

It's up to the retailer whether they offer this service at all, and if so, whether they do so directly or through an agency, and what if any fees they charge for doing so.

  • AFAIK this is how it works in all EU countries.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 1, 2018 at 16:01

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