Airport shoppers travelling outside the EU can now claim a discount at Boots on items priced £5 or more if they present their boarding pass at the till, after the chemist chain became the latest store to introduce VAT refunds for passengers.
The move comes after it emerged in 2015 that many airport retailers were wrongly forcing passengers to present their boarding passes when making a purchase.
While you DO need to show your boarding pass if buying goods from a duty-free outlet, this isn't a requirement in other airport shops. Some retailers ask for your boarding pass anyway so they're able to claim back VAT (20%), even though they may not then pass on the savings to customers.
MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis was at the forefront of calls for passengers to refuse to show their boarding passes when shopping at non-duty free airport stores, in a bid to encourage retailers to pass on VAT discounts to shoppers.
Now Boots says it will refund VAT to travellers flying outside the EU across its 29 airport shops, but only on items costing at least £5. Its decision comes after WHSmith last year agreed to give similar refunds on items of £6 or more.
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How do I claim back VAT at the airport?
If you're flying outside the EU and you buy an item from Boots that costs £5 or more, you'll have the cost of the VAT deducted at the till. Unfortunately you can't get any refund on items under £5 – even if you buy several items and the total cost is more than £5.
A number of items sold at Boots – including prescriptions, baby formula and some food such as sandwiches – are subject to zero-rate VAT, meaning you won't be able to get a discount on these products.
To claim the VAT back you'll have to present your boarding pass when paying – if you don't it'll be assumed that you're travelling within the EU and you won't receive the refund.
Why can't I get a VAT refund on items under £5?
Boots says it set a limit of £5 per item because it is the price at which "customers will receive a meaningful saving".
The company claims the VAT savings it makes on individual items under £5 will be reinvested to help keep prices low.
What does Boots say?
Asif Aziz, director of stores for the south and airports at Boots UK, said: "Over the past year we've been carrying out a comprehensive review of VAT relief concession at these stores to find the right solution to meet customers' needs, while keeping our prices the same great value as in our high street stores."