Britain to re-introduce tax free shopping for overseas visitors

September 23, 2022 - 6:18 PM
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Shop in London
An image of Queen Elizabeth is seen on a flag above a shop in London, Britain, September 12, 2022. (Reuters/Henry Nicholls)

LONDON — Britain will bring back sales tax free shopping for overseas visitors to boost the country’s flagging retail sector, finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng said on Friday.

“Britain welcomes millions of tourists every year, and I want our high streets and airports, our ports and our shopping centers, to feel the economic benefit. So we have decided to introduce VAT-free shopping for overseas visitors,” he told parliament during the presentation of a mini-budget.

A previous tax-free shopping was abolished at the end of 2020. Kwarteng said the government would replace the previous paper-based system with a digital one. “And this will be in place as soon as possible.”

Linda Ellett, KPMG’s UK head of consumer markets, retail and leisure, said the move would increase the UK’s competitiveness when it comes to attracting international visitors.

“This is all the more key as we look to find ways to create economic growth, return international tourism to pre-pandemic volumes, and withstand rising inflation on the high street,” she said.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Paul Sandle