A quote from gov.uk regarding tax-free shopping:

Goods you cannot get a refund for

You cannot get a VAT refund for:


goods you’ve already used in the EU, such as perfume


To me it feels a little ambiguous. It's very easy to tell if you have used a perfume, but how about durable goods that are purchased in a used state?

To simplify, my question is: if I buy a used guitar or a guitar accessory in a shop in London, will I be able to get a tax refund? Is the process somehow differrent?


  • 1
    I expect your first problem will be to find a shop selling musical instruments that participates in the tax-free shopping scheme. Dec 14, 2019 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


The distinction between perfume and a musical instrument is that the perfume is consumable and the instrument is not. When you leave the EU and claim your refund, the customs official inspecting your goods won’t be checking whether the instrument is used, because it isn’t consumable. From this more complete guidance

no certification of export will be given for used consumable items, for example, perfume which is wholly or partly consumed in the EU

As Michael Hampton rightly points out, the instrument must be bought from a shop which participate in a VAT refund scheme. However, I don’t think it will be too much trouble to find such a shop. With a quick google search, I found several.

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