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Good afternoon, I'm currently serving the RAF Overseas in Cyprus and am looking at ordering a new laptop from PC Specialist (a UK company). My question is simple, am I eligible to buy this item without paying VAT (or claim back the VAT) given that I am getting it sent overseas. Thanks in advance!

  • I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but since RAF Akrotiri is an overseas territory (i.e. still part of the UK, just not mainland), would you pay taxes as if you were in the mainland anyway? – James Webster Jul 20 '15 at 13:48
  • It's weird, income tax is the same, but we can claim tax back off anything purchased on island over £100 it's all a bit messy really – Persistence Jul 20 '15 at 14:01
  • More for my curiosity than for the purpose of having a sound, legal based answer: does that only apply to purchases off base or can you claim back for purchase within the WSBA too? If it's both, is it possible the ability to reclaim VAT is a perk of being in the armed services rather than related directly to tax laws? – James Webster Jul 20 '15 at 14:15
  • The stuff bought within the WSBA is already VAT free (but some is rationed) – Persistence Jul 20 '15 at 14:17
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If you are an UK citizen and resident, then no.

If you are an EU resident or non-EU resident then yes, but there are conditions.

Source

You can sometimes get VAT refunds on goods bought in the UK if you:

  • visit the UK but live outside the EU and are going back home
  • are an EU resident leaving the EU for 12 months or more
  • are a non-EU resident but work or study in the UK and are leaving the EU for 12 months or more

You can’t get a VAT refund for:

  • mail order goods, including internet sales
  • goods you’ve already used in the EU, such as perfume
  • service charges, eg hotel bills
  • new or used cars
  • goods worth more than £600 exported for business purposes
  • goods to be exported as freight
  • goods that need an export licence (except antiques)
  • unmounted gemstones
  • gold over 125g, 2.75 troy ounces or 10 tolas
  • a boat you plan to sail to a destination outside the EU

As bringing a laptop PCSpecialist is an online sale(I bought my desktop from them), I don't think you can claim VAT.

  • A very good, albeit disappointing answer. Thanks! :) – Persistence Jun 28 '15 at 16:32
  • Having spoken to PC Specialist themselves, apparently if I can prove I am serving abroad, I AM entitled to a VAT exemption, but they need a letter from my CO. I don't know whether this is Cyprus specific or not – Persistence Jul 1 '15 at 12:30

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