Duty Free Border Downtown | Harrods

Travel Retail Operators

Travel Retail Operators


Harrods department store in London is one of, if not the most famous emporium in the world. Located in London's Knightsbridge area and close to the West End of London, it caters for all tastes, especially if they are for luxury brands. In recent times, Harrods have expanded their operations to airport retailing too, with stores in most of the terminals at London Heathrow airport and further afield in other countries like Germany.

It is easy to get confused as to what this store offers in the way of Tax-Free or Duty-Free retailing. Simply, if you buy in the downtown London store and you are a visitor and non-resident of the UK or EU territories, when you leave Great Britain you can recover the 20% tax (Value Added Tax - VAT) that is included in the price. But, you must be travelling outside the European Union to be eligible for the tax refund. Finance Companies such as 'Global Blue' or 'Premier Tax Free' will arrange this refund for you, but there is a charge for this service. Sometimes, if you are only spending a small amount, the refund charges outweigh the saving, but if you are spending in excess of £500 (English Pounds), then the refund is worth the claim.

If you buy from a Harrods store in an airport and are departing for a non-EU destination, the goods you buy are already discounted by the 20% VAT tax, so there is no need to reclaim this money from the Customs Service. In general, the Harrods airport stores do not sell Duty-Free goods, only Tax-Free, because 'Duty' only applies to alcohol or tobacco products which are sold by other retailers in British airports.

The other thing to consider is if you buy in the downtown store and make the tax re-claim, you must show your goods and the tax forms to Customs at the airport, before you check in for your flight. At busy times, there are long lines at the airport Tax Refund office and you could wait up to an hour to process the refunds. Likewise, by British Customs rules, you cannot open or use the goods you buy downtown for refund whilst still in Britain, before you depart. If Customs see that your purchases have been used or opened already, they may refuse to give you the tax refund at the airport.

The duty free on arrival global search 'App' for phone and tablet is now available in Android version beta v1, we are working hard to make it the best travel shopping site and mobile App available, the Apple/iOS version will follow soon. You will be able to search the globe from your phone for duty-free shops at your destination, on planes, boats, airports or border stores. To download the app click the image below to check before you fly!