I want to buy some goods (around 700 pounds worth - a camera, a gpu and an ssd) from Amazon UK.

As I am living in Europe right now (residence in Ireland) is it possible to ask for a VAT refund, even if the purchase is online, as it is the case of Amazon? Any special rules from UK applied here?

I will be leaving Europe in three months, from Ireland with a flight connection in Madrid.

  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it isn't really about travel
    – blackbird
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 12:51

4 Answers 4


According to Amazon's web site,

As a purely internet-based mail-order company, Amazon.co.uk is legally ineligible to participate in the VAT Retail Export Scheme, which reimburses VAT to customers when they purchase goods for personal export outside of the EU.

See the sidebar on the same page for more information about Amazon.co.uk and various VAT issues.


No, it is not. See, you have to pay your VAT. The only refund is possible if you are NOT european, not living in europe. Then you can ask for a refund when you take the goods OUT OF EUROPE. The refund has to be processed at the customs (to make sure that yes, you do export the goods).

Amazon NEVER gets involved. You will have to reclaim the VAT either directly from the relevant tax office (Likely ireland) and/or use an agency for this.

You can get more information on the official EU website.

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    The shop is involved. Shops that offer the refund service provide, on request, a special receipt: "When you are in the shop, ask the shop assistant in advance whether they provide this service.". Some, but not all, shops are in the VAT Retail Export Scheme. According to their web page Amazon is not. Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 7:40
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    In addition to "you have to pay your VAT", it really is your VAT: if I as a Slovenian resident buy from a UK webshop that ships more than 50.000€ per year to Slovenia, I'm going to pay 22% (SI) VAT, not 19% (UK) VAT. The only way to avoid this would be to handle shipping myself.
    – predi
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 7:40
  • Yes, this is your VAT. Per law you have to pay the local VAT on the target of shipping. For SMALL companies (and it is not about you, it is about the seller) he can apply HIS vat. But that is a simplification. In general, your target address VAT applies.
    – TomTom
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 7:45
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    The EU law changed recently to require VAT applicable being based on the buyers address rather than the address of the seller - this eliminated the issue of Amazon et al setting up in low VAT rate countries and using that as a competitive reason to buy from them.
    – user29788
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 9:42
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    @predi UK VAT is 20%, not 19%.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 10:14

The rules for selling online in the UK can be found on the UK Government website here; https://www.gov.uk/online-and-distance-selling-for-businesses/selling-overseas

  1. You must charge VAT to EU customers if you’d do the same for customers in the UK.
  2. If you’re selling goods to consumers and the value of the goods you sell in any EU country is above the ‘distance selling threshold’, you must register and charge VAT in that country.

Further information can be found here; https://www.gov.uk/starting-to-export/sending-goods-to-eu-countries

Basically, if you buy from the UK are in the EU then the retailer is legally required to charge you VAT at the UK rate.



At least in the UK the retail export scheme only applies to people who either aren't resident in the EU or in some cases is ending temporary residence AND who buy the goods in person (not mail order). It also only works if the retailer is part of the scheme.

I'm not sure what the situation is in ireland, I couldnt find any explicit prohibition on mail order when I looked for Ireland but I may have missed something. Even if there is no such provision I doubt amazon UK would participate in the Irish version of the retail export scheme.

If you are eligable for the retail export scheme I guess it may be possible to have a Buisness in Ireland buy the goods from amazon (which will give them the ability to either reclaim the VAT or not pay it in the first place) and then sell them on to you in person (which would allow the retail export scheme to be used) but I would expect the cost of setting up such an arrangement to eat up much or all of the savings.

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    It might be simpler and more cost-effective to buy the items from a local retailer who is in the retail export scheme. The local retailer might charge more than Amazon, but less than Amazon+VAT. Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 18:40

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