Richard, as an oveseas visitor, you are entitled to use the VAT retail export scheme. The link to the full regs is here:http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsPorta...tyType=document
An extract is here:
The VAT Retail Export Scheme allows:
certain customers to receive a refund of VAT paid on goods exported to destinations outside the European Community (EC) subject to conditions detailed at paragraph 2.3; and
retailers to zero-rate goods sold to entitled customers when they have the necessary evidence of export and have refunded the VAT to the customer.This is a voluntary scheme and retailers do not have to operate it.
The following text has the force of law
Retailers and refund companies (see paragraph 5.5) may only operate the VAT Retail Export Scheme when they comply with the conditions set out in this notice. Briefly these are:
the customer must be entitled to use the scheme (see paragraph 2.4);
the goods must be eligible to be purchased under the scheme (see paragraph 2.6);
the customer must make the purchase in person and complete the form at the retailer’s premises in full (see paragraph 3.1 and 7.4.2);
the goods must be exported from the EC by the last day of the third month following that in which the goods were purchased;
the customer must send the retailer or the refund company evidence of export stamped by Customs on an official version of Form VAT 407, an approved version of Form VAT 407 or an officially approved invoice (see Section 4); and
the retailer or the refund company must not zero-rate the supply until the VAT has been refunded to the customer (see paragraph 5.2).
So find a dealer willing to apply the scheme and save 20%. I suspect Uncle Melvyn may be your man.