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That Darn VAT!

In Europe and the UK, they have a Value Added Tax – called VAT – which is a tax that is added to most goods. And even though non-Europeans have to pay it when they purchase goods, they are entitled to a refund. NOTE: For the UK the refund ended in Jan 2021 with Brexit.

It is worth the time and effort to get the refund if you are spending a chunk of change on souvenirs. In Ireland it can be between 18-25% so it is a lot if you’re buying a wool sweater, crystal, or something large to send home. If 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. Below are images from the Blarney Woolen Mills Store. It is a great place to shop!

Shopping at the Blarney Woolen Mills

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, etc.) then I only have one receipt to deal with.

Here is a good link about what VAT is:

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

And if you’re interested in another tour and getting all of this helpful information, here are details on our 2024 Outlander Tours of Scotland.

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