How to Get VAT Refund

VAT or Value Added Tax is a form of tax that can be refunded by tourists.

Since tourists are not obligated to pay taxes, they can refund their VAT with a bit of paper work.

In getting a VAT refund, it is important to take note that tax varies from country to country. Tax also depends on the amount purchase and the type of service or product. Usually, VAT from merchandise is easier to refund than VAT from services.

In Europe, VAT is already included in the price tag of a certain product, unlike in the United States wherein VAT or tax varies from state to state so it is not already included in the price tag. VAT in Europe ranges from 4 percent up to 33 percent depending on the type of product.

Since the VAT is already included in the price tags of products, the tourist, even not obligated to pay for it, will also incur that tax. Since tourist are technically do not need to pay the said tax (but they did), they are entitled to a tax or VAT refund. The downside though is the paper work that one should prepare before going out of the country.

One important thing in getting a VAT refund is to tell the clerk from where you have bought the products that you are going to actually get the VAT refunded. This is important because the sales clerk will give you the receipt together with the necessary forms that you will need in getting your VAT refund. Also, take note that if you are planning on visiting more than one country in European Union, you should redeem your receipts at the last country that you will visit. This means that you should bring all the receipts that you had starting from the first country that you visited up to your last country in your itinerary.

As an example, if the last country that you will visit is France, you should bring the receipts that you had from Germany, Italy, or any other country which is a member of the European Union. After that, you can bring your receipts at the custom agent at the Paris airport.

In cases that the customs would wish to inspect the items that you have bought, you should bring your receipts at the customs office first even before checking in your items. After inspecting your items, the customs agent will stamp your receipts and will direct you to another VAT refund desk in the airport where you will deal with another paper work.

Usually, after completing the VAT refund process, they will give you the refund right after the last step. But in some cases, the receipts are sent back from the stores where you have bought the items and the store will then credit the refund against your credit card or sent via check.

Alternatively, if you do not want to go through these steps, you can look for shops which have “TAX FREE SHOPPING” sticker. These stores will give you a check right away and then you can then redeem your check at the Tax free desk in the airport.

1 Comment

  • Janine Mullinix said on May 6, 2014
    Sacramento, CA DBA: UK and Ireland. How do you redeem VAT charges where the EU sales and purchases section is for transactions that are the reverse charge?


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