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How To Shop Tax-Free in Europe as a UK Resident

Interior of department store in Paris for tax-free shopping

Tax-free shopping in Europe sounds great, doesn’t it? And, since the event of Brexit, residents of the UK can do just that. So now you can shop tax-free in Europe in the designer stores in Paris and Milan without breaking the bank!

You may be wondering how to shop tax-free in Europe, well wonder no more as this post will explain everything you need to know to purchase items at lower prices than marked. Now you can plan a weekend break in Europe and combine it with a shopping spree!

Firstly is the question of how much can you save as a UK resident on purchases in Europe? The answer is up to 19% depending on the tax applied in the EU country you are visiting.

And how do you prove to the stores that you are eligible for tax-free shopping in the EU? The answer is to carry proof of identity with you to show that you permanently reside in either England, Wales or Scotland. Residents of Northern Ireland or British nationals currently living in an EU country are not eligible.

Milan shopping centre is a great place to shop tax-free in Europe

Important Points about Tax-Free Shopping in the EU

You must remember a few things surrounding EU tax-free shopping.

  • A spending minimum on tax-free purchases made in Europe is set by the individual EU countries and must be met before tax-free savings can be made.
  • The tax doesn’t automatically come off at the purchase point. You will need to fill out a form and claim the tax back as a refund.
  • Tax-free goods purchased in the EU must be exported out of the EU within a three-month period. So you can’t buy a sofa tax-free for your villa in France but you could buy it if you were shipping it back to the UK.
Decorative ceiling of Paris shopping centre to shop tax-free in Europe

How To Get Your Tax Back on EU Purchases

The big question is now you have bought your item how do you claim back the tax? UK Residents can claim back tax paid on EU purchases in several ways:

  • When purchasing goods ask for a tax-free form while in the store. You will probably be asked to show proof that you live in the UK and your passport.
  • When you are at the airport returning to the UK, ask customs to validate your tax-free form. You will probably be asked to show receipts and your purchases so have them ready (obviously impossible if you are having a large item shipped to the UK but customs will understand that dilemma)
  • Take your validated form to the tax refund office at your departure point and you will receive your refund. It is as simple as that!
  • In Spain, Italy, Portugal and France, digital validation of tax-free forms are available at departure airports.

Would you prefer to use an app to reclaim your tax when you shop tax-free in Europe? The app Global Blue has a number of free services to ensure shoppers have an easy tax-free shopping experience.

You can book your shopping trip to Europe with Easyjet.com and book great deals on hotels with Booking.com

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About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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