That darn VAT

In Europe, including Scotland and Ireland they have a Value Added Tax which is called VAT.  It is a tax that is added to most goods in Europe and even though non-Europeans have to pay it when they purchase goods, they are entitled to a refund.

It is worth the time and effort to get the refund if you are spending a chunk of change on souvenirs.  In Ireland and the UK it can be between 20-25% so it is a lot if you’re buying a wool sweater or crystal or something large to send home.  iIf I’m only spending 25 pounds or less at a time, I don’t find it’s worth it to keep the receipts and worry about the major hassle of it in the departure airport.  So I have learned to pick one store and do most of my gift buying there.  You can check with an employee before you start buying and ask about the VAT and how they support refunds.

I went to one store in Ireland that had a card that they swiped then you could deal with it when you got home.  That was the easiest ever!

Or I’ve also shopped at the Duty Free shops at the departure airport and just bought a bunch of stuff there ( t-shirts, key rings, fridge magnets, sweets for gifts ) then I only have one receipt to deal with.

Here is a good link about what is VAT:

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/vat/what-is-vat_en

And here is Rick Steves’ page on it (how you get refunds changes frequently and it has been made easier):

http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/vat/what-is-vat_en

And a story on VAT on the BBC News site:

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-33881005