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VAT refund for apartment rental in the UK?

I've read many places that only business travelers can get VAT refunds for hotels in the UK, not tourists. I've seen nothing about other types of lodgings like B&B's and apartments.

I asked this question of the company from which I was considering renting an apartment. At first I was told that they would give me the paperwork and that I could get the refund. Then the rep said they didn't know if I could or not.

Does anyone know if there are any differences among the kinds of lodgings for VAT refunds for tourists? If not, does anyone know who I would contact to find out? Am I just splitting wishful-thinking semantic hairs?

Posted by
23593 posts

Short answer - given above - is NO, you cannot reclaim the VAT.

You used it - it is used - you can't take it with you unused - you can't get the VAT back.

Long answer - VAT is paid on the nominal increase in value of a good as it makes its way along the creation and distribution channel. Businesses which charge VAT offset the costs of VAT with the VAT they charge, so that the cost is passed along the line.

This room is not a cost of production or increasing value so for that reason it non reclaimable, too.

Sorry, Lo, it is part of your expenses.

If it were a racing engine and you were in the business of making racing engines here - like the fabulous lads and lassies at Brixworth - all your components like rings, camshafts, pistons, engine casings, lubricating fluids, would all be brought in. You pay (or defer) VAT on all of them based on their value as a component. You put together the engine, test it, fire it up, and sell it on to a racing team. You now collect VAT on the completed engine which offsets, and some, the VAT due on the components. When the racing team sell the entire car on, including your lovely engine, they get VAT on the whole value of the car, which offsets the VAT paid on the engine.

Unfortunately, a room rental is not a good. And tourists removing goods can only claim on unused goods.

Posted by
4822 posts

I do not know the in and outs of UK tax laws, but in some EU countries, the letting of an apartment may or may not be subject to VAT, depending on how the owner handles their taxes and the investment. That said, it only affects the owner, not necessarily the lettee.

Posted by
4474 posts

Holiday lettings in the UK are all liable to standard rate VAT - but an individual with a single let might be below the VAT threshold.