Did you know that you can get money back for your purchases... all over Europe?! Yes, its a big deal and we are here to help you claim what is rightfully yours!
WHAT IS IT?
VAT stands for "value added tax". It is tax on consumption rather than income and it can range from 15-25%! If you pay into this tax while shopping abroad, we are eligible to receive this money back once you return home. This tax is included into the price of just about any good that you can buy abroad. However, it does not apply to services (hotels, restaurants, tours, etc.) because these items can not be exported out of the country. It is also good to know that smaller merchants, like street artists, don't participate in the program and don't provide the paperwork.
There is typically a minimum purchase amount to qualify so it is best to do the majority of your shopping in one place. This also allows for less paperwork (you'll thank us later). The minimum amounts and VAT rates are different from country to country - see them HERE.
HOW DO I GET IT?
It takes a little planning and extra steps to get your money back, but don't think that it it anything crazy! It's always worth it to make between 15-25% back on purchases - which can turn into more plane tickets down the road!
Take your passport to shop. Most retailers who deal with international customers participate in VAT, but double check before shopping! Not all shops have to offer VAT-free shopping. They will tell you if they do and some shops might advertise in their window ‘tax-free’ or ‘VAT free’. This may of course be in their local language.
Ask your salesperson for the paperwork you need. He or she needs to fill it out as well.
Keep all your purchases, receipt and forms together. Show these to customs before heading back home and make sure that they stamp the documents. No stamp, no refund! The customs office is generally located in the departures/ticketing area so stop by there to get your stamp before checking any bags as they will request to see the item for proof that you are bringing them out of the country.
TIP: If you are visiting other EU countries on your trip, you can get your completed documents stamped by a customs officer at the point of exit of the last EU country you’re visiting– not necessary in the same EU country where you bought it. Be cautious if you’re leaving your last EU country by train because not all train stations have a customs office. In addition to that, if you forget to get your stamp in the EU country you departed from and have a layover in another EU country, you can still visit the customs office on your layover if time allows and get your stamp/refund. Just remember the items have to be with you and not in your checked bag!
For example: You are leaving Denmark to go back to Florida, but you have a layover in Amsterdam, you can visit the customs office at the Amsterdam airport to obtain your stamp/refund.
Get your money back. This can either be done right at the airport (at refund offices) or by mailing in forms once you’re home. The system will depend on which retailer you used and should be outlined on your forms. You don’t have to have the original form of payment for the item purchased, any credit or debit card they accept will work for them to apply the refund.
TIP: You have 3 months from the date of purchase to get your tax refund.