It is possible to claim VAT back on goods purchased in the UK and exported out of the European Community (EC).
The most common method for Retail customers is to use the VAT Retail Export Scheme covered by HMRC Reference:Notice 704 (November 2004) (www.hmce.gov.uk )
The VAT Retail Export Scheme does not cover (nor will it in the future) any online purchases, this is because it is incumbent open the retailer to physically verify the identity of the purchaser. BWCL cannot offer use of this scheme for any online purchases.
However HMRC Reference:Notice 703 (August 2006) (www.hmce.gov.uk ) covers the Export of goods from the United Kingdom and VAT implications. This notice states that where goods are supplied for export, even if it is the customer that arranges export, the supply can be zero-rated.
The goods must be supplied to an individual or business that is not resident or has a place of establishment in the UK and must be exported within 3 months.
Evidence of the export must be retained by the seller and must be available for HMRC to check or the seller may find themselves liable for the VAT.
When the export is arranged by the seller this process is more straightforward, however when the export is arranged by the purchaser either using a freight forwarder or physically exporting the goods as the purchaser leaves the UK the seller should not zero rate the sale until evidence of export has been provided to the seller by the purchaser.
BWCL will offer the following service: Goods will be delivered to the UK freight forwarder on behalf of the purchaser. The purchaser will bear all costs associated with exporting the goods. BWCL will take a deposit equal to the VAT (or treat the supply as subject to VAT) until such time as all required evidence is provided. Evidence will take the form of:
• Authenticated sea-waybills
• Authenticated air-waybills
• PIM/PIEX International consignment notes
• Master air-waybills or bills of lading
• Certificates of shipment containing the full details of the consignment and how it left the EC, or International Consignment Note/Lettre de Voiture International (CMR) fully completed by the consignor, the haulier and the receiving consignee, or Freight Transport Association (FTA) own account transport documents fully completed and signed by the receiving customer
BWCL hopes to offer a service that will enable the purchaser to export the goods themselves. We are currently awaiting confirmation from HMRC regarding evidence of export related to the use of Single Administrative Document (SAD) endorsed by Customs at the point of exit from the EC.
This document has been produced by BWCL using our own experience with reference material provided by HM Customs and Excise and responses by HM Customs and Excise to both written and verbal requests for clarification. BWCL does not accept any liability for the use or misuse of information contained within this document and recommends that professional advice is sought in this respect.