How to Shop Tax Free and Get VAT Refund?

Maria Goncharova Flights, Tips & Tricks Leave a Comment

Tax Free RefundTax Free system gives you an opportunity to refund up to 22% of the money spent for purchases abroad. You can choose the refund option that best suits your needs and travel schedule: airports, post offices, Tax Free banks. Doing it at airports is usually easier, more convenient and cheaper.

You can find Tax Free Сash Refund desks it the international zone of large airports, usually close to Duty Free shops. You’ll need Tax Free Cheque, Tax Free Form, Customs Stamp and your passport to show.

Tax Free VAT Refund in Brief:

  • Step 1

    Get Tax Free Cheque and fill Tax Free Form at a store.

  • Step 2

    Get stamp on Tax Free Cheque at Customs desk.

  • Step 3

    Get a tax refund at Tax Free Cash Refund desk.

More detailed guide to VAT refund you can find on this page.

A few important points you need to know:

  • You must be not a citizen of the country where you bought goods. And you must be for less than 3 months in the country.
  • To get VAT refund you need so-called Tax Free Cheque with filled Tax Free Form. Not every shop can provide it. Normally shops don’t have to offer a VAT-free facility. Those that choose to do so must make the appropriate arrangements with the tax authorities. The shop will usually display a prominent sign in the window, advertising that it is a ‘tax-free’ or ‘VAT-free’ shop.
  • There is a minimum value of purchase for which you can get tax refund. It depends on the country in which the goods were purchased. For Germany it’s 25 EUR, for France -175 EUR.
  • There are some goods that do not qualify for tax refund. For example, we bought iPad in New York and couldn’t get tax refund, because iPad was qualified as a luxury item, and there was no tax refund for luxury goods in this state.
  • You need to get a customs stamp at your Tax Free Cheque before you go to Tax Free Сash Refund. Take your purchases, receipt and passport to the Customs desk to get your Tax Free Form validated. Don’t pack away your purchases in your check-in luggage as you will need to show them to the Customs Officer. Make sure the goods are unused, keep all labels and tags.
  • Tax Free Cheque and customs stamp have an expiration date. Depending on the country it is from 1 to 6 months.
  • Tax refund process may take an hour or more. Make sure you have enough time.

I’ve got VAT refund at Munich airport. The process was not complicated, but it took pretty much time. I was a witness of situations when passengers couldn’t get customs stamps, because they couldn’t show their purchases. Also there were people who didn’t have enough time to finish the process. In this case, you need to keep Tax Free Cheque and customs stamp and then go to a bank in your country to get VAT refund.

How to Calculate VAT Refund?

You can use Refund Calculator from Global Blue to calculate the estimated amount of money.

Tax Free Information for Some Countries

Country The minimum value of purchase Tax return, % Tax Free Cheque validation period
Austria EUR 75,01 15 unlimited
Belgium EUR 125,01 5-15,5 3 months
United Kingdom GBR 30 14,9 3 months
Germany EUR 25 12,7 3 years
Greece EUR 120 13 3 months
Denmark DKK 300 19 3 months
Ireland No 17 3 months
Iceland ISK 4000 15 3 months
Spain EUR 90,15 13,79 unlimited
Italy EUR 154,94 20 3 months
Luxembourg EUR 74 11,8 3 months
Netherlands EUR 50 14,97 3 months
Norway NOK 315 12-19 3 months
Poland PLN 200 18 3 months
Portugal EUR 60,35 10,5-12 3 months
Finland EUR 40 10-16 3 months
France EUR 175,01 12-13 6 months
Czech Republic CZK 2001 14 6 months
Switzerland CHF 300 7 1 month
Sweden SEK 200 17,5 3 months

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