Brits abroad enjoy Brexit tax-free shopping boost – enjoy big savings on European VAT

Martin Lewis says to be ‘cautious’ when booking holidays

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Jetsetting Brits could save hundreds of pounds on a continental spree, with VAT discounts on big-ticket items such as fashion, jewellery and consumer electronics. UK residents can now claim a VAT refund of up to 19 percent on purchases made in the EU. This includes popular European holiday destinations such as Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain and France.

Tax-free shopping wasn’t possible when we were part of the EU single market, but it is following our departure on December 31, 2020.

If you are a UK resident and take your purchases home, you can claim a VAT refund on certain items.

It is like duty-free shopping at airports, except you can do it in stores across the continent.

This does not apply to restaurant bills, bus or train tickets, and other holiday spending. However, it does apply to anything you bring home, including clothes, jewellery, cosmetics, technology and even wine and spirits.

Summer shopping

Shop VAT-free in the EU this summer (Image: Getty)

Cool fashion

Grab yourself a fashion bargain (Image: Getty)

There may be a minimum purchase amount, ranging from zero in Spain to as high as €154.95 in Italy, so check before you buy.

You have to show your passport as proof of residency, complete a tax-free form in the store and keep your receipts. Your refund is validated at customs provided you leave within three months of purchase.

Less than half of UK travellers realise they are eligible for VAT-free shopping in Europe, according to new research from tax-free shopping experts Global Blue.

Derrick Hardman, managing director of Global Blue UK & Ireland, said as government restrictions on international travel loosen for fully vaccinated passengers returning from amber list countries, it’s time to hit the shops.

READ MORE: Green Britain: Sign our petition to scrap VAT on zero carbon products

EU savings

Shop tax-free across the EU (Image: Getty)

Brits can take advantage of the savings that can be made during their holidays to Europe. “As an example, with Britons spending on average €1,523 during a trip to Portugal, they could save up to €274 so there are big savings to enjoy,” Hardman said.

Fashion, watches and jewellery, and consumer electronics and household goods top our continental shopping list, and can be bought tax-free at stores ranging from local shops to big department stores.

Britons should also find their money will go even further thanks to the resurgence in the pound against the euro over the past year. 

Sterling is up almost 5 per cent, giving travellers an extra €5 of spending cash for every €100 of currency they buy.


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Go shopping

Savings at your fingertips (Image: Getty)

In a further boost, many continental resorts have cut prices in a bid to fill hotels and restaurants as travel uncertainty drags on.

The Algarve in Portugal offers best value in the eurozone, with prices 16 percent lower than Spain and 24 percent lower than Greece, according to the Post Office Beach Barometer.

The best value holiday resort is Sunny Beach, in Bulgaria, which is outside the eurozone.

A typical family meal for four costs around £28.62, compared to a thumping £125.37 in pricey Nice, France.

Post Office head of travel money Nick Boden said: “Sunny Beach is a great bet for bargain-hunters, a third the cost of most eurozone resorts.”

Roy Walsh

Roy Walsh

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