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When the UK left the EU, Brits were offered something like a permanent discount for their shopping sprees in the bloc. But many, unaware that they can claim VAT, fail to use the Brexit benefit when traveling.
VAT can be claimed on all kinds of goods – whether it’s tech, jewelry or designer bags – which is why the savings for Brits could be huge.
However, 67% of the 2,000 UK adults surveyed have never claimed value added tax on their purchases made while traveling in Europe.
75 percent, meanwhile, said they had no idea it was an option at all.
“The results are hardly surprising to us, especially since the tax-free buying process can be complicated,” said Raphael Chow, CEO and founder of the Wevat tax recovery app.
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Billions are lost for the EU because tourists don’t know they can claim VAT
“It’s not uncommon to have to manually fill out more than ten forms and spend at least two hours waiting in line at the airport to get reimbursement forms stamped.
“Receipts can also be lost, and having to make a claim turns many tourists off, even though they could save hundreds of pounds. “
This, among other reasons, leads to around 23 billion euros (around £ 19 billion) not being returned to tourists in the EU, the travel publication Skift reported.
Part is owed to the British.
72% of Britons surveyed did not know they could claim VAT on their European purchases
While awareness of tourist tax refunds and duty-free purchases is generally low, the younger generations – 19-24 year olds – are slightly more informed, with 44% aware of the benefit compared to only 15% among the 45 at 54 years old. -years.
Regionally, awareness is highest in Northern Ireland with 50% of them stating that they were aware of VAT refund eligibility.
London, with 46% awareness, and Scotland, with 29%, are next, according to the results of the survey conducted by OnePoll in October 2021.
Sarah Shears, head of the VAT group at Andersen, a UK and US tax services firm, said Express.co.uk there are “certain criteria” along with the fact that many Brits do not know the advantage that prevents them from enjoying it.
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Paperwork is another big hurdle preventing UK tourists from using the Brexit advantage
She said: “Not all stores offer a possibility of VAT exemption and those who choose to do so should make the appropriate arrangements with the tax authorities.
“Customers must also pay VAT in advance.”
And, “filling out the relevant forms and taking the validated forms to a reimbursement office,” confirmed Ms. Shears, could also be an inconvenience for travelers.
What is a barrier for consumers is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, who see a chance to profit from the UK’s departure from the EU.
Mr Chow de Wevat explained that they launched the app to “digitize the process and simplify duty-free shopping” and said it has already “helped recoup the tax on expenses of over $ 18 million. ‘euros for our customers to date “.
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With the service, travelers can “download their bills and we take care of the paperwork.”
The Wevat application is currently focusing on helping with reimbursement of VAT on purchases made in France, a region also chosen by other companies as a prime target.
Shawn Du, the founder and CEO of Revenir, an app with a similar purpose, said Express.co.uk France is “one of the leading shopping destinations”.
Although interested in the whole of the EU and also interested in other “tourist” destinations such as Thailand and Singapore, Mr. du
described France as a particularly lucrative market: “It is a well-known luxury shopping destination in the world.
Statistics from the ONS confirm that France is one of the top tourist destinations for Britons – the second most popular just after Spain, where thousands of people have made the most of the Brexit advantage this year.
From January to September, UK tourists who claimed their VAT spent an average of around £ 1,130 in Spanish stores – well above the average of around £ 300 before Brexit 2019, according to data from the company. Global Blue tax refund.
If more widely promoted, European businesses could soon reap huge benefits from post-Brexit consumer trends, with Britons potentially taking trips aimed specifically at affording products they wouldn’t buy at full price from them.