A Money Coach in Canada

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The UK has a tax (VAT) of 20%.  I reckon I spent approaching $1000 while I was over there (yes, budgeted) which means I contributed to Her Majesty’s Coffers in the range of $150.00+

I dutifully kept all my receipts, but when I got to Heathrow discovered that Receipts Alone Do Not Suffice.

I also needed to show all my goods, which would have been a serious time delay and hassle as they were interspersed amongst my suitcases.

Furthermore, I needed to complete a form each and every time I had made the purchases, and the form is provided by the shop keeper.

Hassle, much?

In any case, I didn’t have time to rifle through my carefully packed luggage, nor had I completed any of the forms.

*le sigh*    I did at least thoroughly enjoy the BBC so I suppose I can find some solace that I benefited from the taxes.

Fellow frugal travellers, headsup:  do the research on reclaiming taxes in advance of your trip!

Oh, and to add to the irritation, I picked up 3 lovely jars of jam from the Harrod’s duty free.  I got through Heathrow just fine, but the security in Calgary pointed out that they were liquids in excess of 100ml so the lemon curd, thick marmalade and raspberry jams are now in some Calgary dumpster.


Photo Credit:  Stewf

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Actually, Nancy, it worse than that. Most stores in the UK do not have the wretched VAT forms you need. Those that do tend to be the over priced, pay extra for the name on the label kind of shop. Certainly not M&S – whose absence from Canada I still miss.

    I don’t know about Calgary, but one little known fact about YVR is that the stuff taken by the so called “security” people is actually donated to a thrift store run by the airport’s chaplaincy. A great place to pick up a bargain next time you come here – as long as you pass through on a Friday morning.

    One day we will replace stealing “bad things” from good people with looking for “bad people” which is what proper airport security is all about. Ours is as silly as the US. Which is why change will be a long time coming.


    Jul 15, 2011
  2. You know, the whole security experience has *seriously* taken the fun out of flying. Talk about re-branding – from “escape” and “holiday” and “adventure” to hassle, line-ups, paranoia … and getting JAM confiscated.
    I hope in our lifetime we do indeed start figuring out how to look for “bad people” instead of subjecting everyone to the intrusions we currently experience.


    Jul 15, 2011
  3. Kathy Kirkby

    Generally overseas flights to Canada from Europe are scheduled to depart at the wee hours of the morning, generally long before the VAT offices are open. Coincidence I think not.


    Nancy (aka Moneycoach) Reply:

    I have to say, I was struck by how inconvenient the whole process is, and wondered if that was just lack of concern, or partly deliberate.


    Jul 16, 2011

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