We all love presents, but sometimes a gift can be given that either doesn't meet our needs, duplicates one we already have, or is unwanted for a number of other reasons. If that's the case, and you've received an Apple product that you want to return, here's how you do so.

What can I return?

Apple is happy to exchange or refund any purchases made in its stores or online with no need for a reason other than you have decided you don't want it, you just have to initiate the return with in 14 days of your purchase (unless the Christmas Returns Policy applies - in which case you have until 8 January to initiate the return).

Of course, if the product is defective then that's a different matter, as it will be covered under the normal returns policy for faulty goods, so you will have longer to return it.

However there's one major exception... If the product is engraved you may not be able to exchange it or get a refund.

Can I return engraved products to Apple?

If the product you purchased or gift you received has been personalised, such as an engraved iPad, then Apple's return options aren't the same - since it's been engraved the device will be unsellable to another customer, after all.

As Apple puts it on the US website: "The only exchange exceptions are personalized items (such as engraved iPhone, iPad, or AirPods) and Macs that have been custom-configured. These items cannot be exchanged in store; they can only be returned and your refund will be issued to the payment method you used on your order (per the guidelines in our Standard Return Policy)."

The wording on the UK website is slightly different. "Personalised items and custom-configured Macs may not be eligible for exchange at an Apple Store. "

In the US it seems that you can return personalised items and get a refund. In the UK the whole thing looks a lot more murky, indicating that you may not be eligible for exchange and making no mention of refunds.

Holiday Return Policy

Due to the frenetic nature of the Christmas period, and people buying lots of presents for each other, Apple offers an extended returns period for purchases.

Items purchased at the Apple Online Store received between 1 November 2021 and 25 December 2021 may be returned until 8 January 2022. These need to conform to the normal conditions listed above, but the extra time does make it easier to buy a gift for someone this Christmas safe in the knowledge that it can returned early in the new year.

Can I return products without the receipt?

If a product is gifted to you it is possible you won't have the receipt and that the person who bought it may not be able to initiate the return. In that case what can you do?

If the item was purchased from Apple's online store you will be able to visit this page (UK) or US and enter the serial number to find out whether you can return it.If it can be returned you will have a choice of either taking it to an Apple Store or you will need to mail it to Apple.

The refund will be made as an Apple Store Gift Card. You should get the gift card within 48 hours of Apple receiving the returned product.

Returning items bought at the online Apple Store

If you ordered the product online, then you get 14 days to indicate your intent to return and another 14 days to actually return it. (There is a little longer if the product in question was a Christmas gift - Apple extends the returns policy at that time of year). 

To initiate the return you first have to go to Apple's Order Status site and log in with your account details. If this is an unwanted product you are returning then you'll need to ask the person who bought it to go to Apple's Order Status site and log in with their account.

Once logged in you (or they) will find a list of Apple product purchases, and the option to begin the return process.

how to return unwanted apple gifts

You (or they) will need the following:

  • Your Web Order Number.
  • The full address from where Apple can collect the goods.
  • A contact phone number.

Having made the intent to return the item known before 14 days has elapsed from purchase, there is a further 14 days within which to arrange a collection or drop the item off at one of Apple's Pickup Points. These are scattered across the country and usually take the form of newsagents or local supermarkets.

Once the return has been arranged they'll be able to print off an address label to put on the box. Collections will be handled by a courier, usually UPS in the UK, who allow the scheduling of a four-hour window within which the product will be picked up.

Alternatively, items being dropped off at a Pickup Point need to be deposited within five days of starting the return process.

If you'd prefer to talk to someone, rather than relying on the online portal, then you can contact Apple Store Customer Service who will arrange the return. Just remember to have the Web Order Number for the item to hand.

Apple states that once the goods have been safely received in its warehouse, then the refund will be issued within 5-7 days.

Returning items to the Apple Store

If you want to return a device purchased from one of Apple's physical retail stores then, along with the product, you will also be required to bring the original receipt, packaging, and included accessories. This needs to be done within 14 days of your purchase, and it goes without saying that the items must be in pristine condition.

While Apple is a global company, items can only be returned at stores in the country from which they were bought.

If someone else paid for the product with a credit or debit card then they will need to accompany you, as a refund can only be issued to the card that was originally charged. Exchanges fall under the same category, so the person will still need to make the trip.

Should it be a case of wanting a different colour of the same device, or moving up to a higher-capacity storage option, then we'd recommend calling your local store and discussing it with the staff, as they may be able to arrange something for you.

To find the contact details for the various branches take a look at the Apple Retail Store List.

Software, memory, and other media are slightly different, in that you'll only be able to get a refund if the box remains unopened. Otherwise Apple will offer you an exchange for another unit of the same product.

For ideas on what's top of most people's wish list, see our Best iPad buying guide, Best iPhone buying guide, and Best Mac buying guide.