There were very few benefits of GB leaving the EU and quite frankly I’d have happily skipped this one benefit if we’d have stayed. But, as it’s happened now I figure I may as well take advantage. So without further ado here’s my tops for shopping tax free in Europe.
I’ve been wanting a Loewe basket bag for a long time and a few weeks prior to our trip they released their now annual collaboration with Paula’s Ibiza. I fell in love with the ‘rosemary green’ basket bag which has lush sage green leather accents. (Vs. the main range tan and white options.) It was then I figured out that I could go shopping tax free in Europe on my Barcelona Trip and got super excited about it!
I then started my proper research. I looked into the sizes to see which I thought I’d want and asked a few other influencers what they recommended size wise. Medium seemed to be the best size so I then focussed my research on that to work out if i would save money, and how much roughly.
I visited the European site to compare prices for ease and just used the exchange rate at the time. It retails for £395 in the UK vs €420 in Spain. That’s already a saving! I then checked stock levels in the Barcelona stores. I was gutted to find out their flagship was closed for renovations (but luckily reopened a week before we went!) So I checked stock in their other store inside El Corte de Ingles. They offer a store reservation service for 48 hours too so I was going to do that but in the end I just checked both shops before we flew and then again before we actually went to the store, just to make sure!
Don’t Forget your Passport!
I planned the trip to the newly re-opened Casa Loewe on Passeig de Gracia into our itinerary for as soon as we arrived post check in. Priorities. We took out time admiring the store, from its local art to its nine Picasso pieces. Plus the building itself which is stunning. Once I’d spent time trying on the bags and confirming medium is the one for me. The SA took me to the till, and I made sure to ask for the tax free forms, just to make sure I got them all sorted. After filling in my details, showing my passport and getting everything checked, I paid my €420 and got my receipt and my filled in form ready to scan on my departure.
You cannot get the forms without a passport as proof of ID and location so this is the most important thing to remember amongst all the excitement of a new purchase!
As well as my bag we bought an Apple Watch (as Luke had broken his the week before) and a Furla bag charm. Both Apple and Loewe used the Global Blue company for their documents. Whereas Furla documents used Planet tax free. On each document there’s a barcode that you scam at the DIVA kiosk situated in departures and that authorises the receipt. Both my Planet Blue ones wouldn’t scan so I had to go to the manned booth. The person there just checked and stamped the docs and I was good to go. You can search where the kiosk is and where the booths are in advance. I’d actually spotted them on our arrival as we took the train to the city throguh departures and went past them to get to it.
Once authorised you can claim the cash back from the currency exchange post security. We queued and did this as I didn’t want the hassle of posting forms etc. Plus, the Global Blue app wasn’t letting me add my details so it was just easier! They can give it in euros or GBP but can’t give change in GBP. So I ended up with a few euros to make it up. It’s worth noting you wont get all the tax you paid back. On my Global Blue Account it says I was due to be paid €51 euros back on my bag. (I paid €72,89 tax.) This is because there’s a fee charged by the company for all the processing as you’d imagine. I believe the foreign exchange also take some fee as part of this too. But I did get around the amount above back for my bag when I worked it all out, so wasn’t huge amounts but maybe a pound or two.
My Savings by Shopping Tax Free in Europe
So did shopping tax free in Europe save me a lot of cash!? Well, yes! On my bag I spent around €369 post tax, which is about £315. A saving of £80 on the UK price, helped by a lower euros price too. On my Furla bag charm I saved a higher % as it was €95 vs £95 in the UK. Post claiming tax of nearly €10 back it cost me around £73 saving £22. Worth noting that some companies won’t issue forms on lower amounts so worth checking first. Finally on Lukes Apple watch it was €459 with a refund of €56.50 making it approx. £340 vs £399 usually. All in all, we saved ourselves money on things we were going to buy anyways. (Except the Furla charm but it was cute okay!?)
So what did I learn? Save my money and go Europe for big designer purchases. Always shop with a Passport on hand just in case. And only spend what you can afford! Saving money is great but credit card bills aren’t!
Ps to top this off I’ve rented my basket bag on By Rotation and made £52 back and it got to live its best life for a few days! You can sign up here and get £5* off using my affiliate link if you are looking to loan out or rent and save money on your first rental.