Heathrow to introduce premium VAT refund service for Gulf travellers

The airport has partnered with Travelex to offer VAT refund by appointment, where travellers will not have to wait in long queues

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As thousands of travellers from the Arabian Gulf prepare to head to Europe for the summer, Heathrow Airport has teamed up with the money exchange company Travelex to launch a new premium "VAT refund by appointment" service for customers reclaiming the tax when leaving the United Kingdom.

Gulf customers fed up of waiting in long queues at  Heathrow in order to claim a refund of 20 per cent on goods purchased in the UK will be able make use of the airport's new appointment service where passengers can book private refund appointments.

At a cost of £120 (Dh571), Travelex says customers can book a personal one-to-one appointment with an Arabic speaking host at a screened desk where the company promises there will be no waiting time.

Located at Heathrow's Terminal 5 from where the UK flag carrier British Airways (BA) flies, the move could also encourage the sort of high-paying Gulf passengers likely to use the VAT service to fly with BA rather than with their Gulf competitors.

“Tax-free shopping is one of the great benefits of coming to the UK. But we recognise that our customer’s time is precious,” said John Rayment, Travelex UK's commercial director. “This new, exclusive experience will ensure customers can complete their VAT refund in a relaxed environment, safe in the knowledge that their refund will be completed in a timely fashion.”

Chris Annetts, Heathrow's retail and service proposition director said: "This private service will provide our customers with greater choice and personalised support with their VAT returns, giving them more time to enjoy their journey."

Under the UK law, customers who live outside the EU but are visiting the UK are eligible to claim a refund on VAT paid for goods and services at the point at which they leave the EU.

In order to receive a refund, customers are required to provide: the tax-free goods they purchased; original store receipts; VAT refund forms; and their passport and boarding pass as proof that they are taking the goods out of the EU.

Refunds by appointment can be booked online in advance at www.travelex.co.uk/vat-refund-by-appointment.