Tourist shopping in Europe and getting tax refunds

Team Shepherd By Team Shepherd, 29th Dec 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1o0-71w-/
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Travel & Transport

A look at how tourists in Europe can get tax refund on the shopping done there.

European VAT refund

Unlike in the United States, most of the European price tags already include their VAT (value added tax) into the price. This makes things a lot easier, especially for tourists as there are no surprises once you come to the cash register.
Another good thing about many European countries is that the visitors are able to get back the value added tax amount they paid when purchasing products. Many people don't take advantage of this because most of them don't know about the option, and those that do might think its too much of a hassle to deal with.

Where to shop

There are different ways of getting this refund, depending on the store and the country. Sometime it might take over a month and sometimes you get it right away while you are still in the shop. Your best bet is to ask a store worker about it. Most of the countries will have a minimum purchase amount required, the amount varies from country to country so it is best to check out the policies for your place of travel. And you will usually have three months to claim your taxes back.

If possible, the first thing you will want to do is shop at places that are familiar with the VAT refunds, if they are tourist oriented they most likely know whats going on. Some of them will even be able to take care of your refund in the store.

What to do

When you buy your merchandise have the cashier or the store service representative fill out the right forms for you, these are usually called "cheques", and you will most probably need to present your passport to the person filling out the form. Once you have your form attach the receipt to it so none of it gets lost.

You will need to get your cheques stamped before you leave the country where you bought the items from. So if you bought something in Croatia make sure to get your documents stamped at the airport before you leave. If you are traveling through the European Union then you can wait until your last stop within the EU to get the documents stamped.

Since you get your cheques approved at the airport most often make sure you come early enough to deal with the hassle of getting that done and still have time to take care of checking your luggage in and getting onto the flight.

Most of the customs officers will require you to bring the merchandise you bought to the customs unused and unopened, some stores will even seal your purchases up. There are places where the officers don't even care to see the goods, however its better to be safe than sorry.

When your documents are cleared by the customs you have a couple of options when it comes to getting your VAT refund. You need to get the form back to the merchant. This is done either directly or through one of their service providers which can be found at airports and border crossings. The agents will charge you a fee (usually 4-5%) but you will get your refund right there without waiting and in the currency of your choice so the fee is worth it.
If you skip the agent and go through the retailer directly they will refund the VAT to your credit card, this however can take up to one or two billing cycles to show up. They also might send you a check for the refund, these take ridiculously long to get to you and are in the currency in which you bought the goods so you will have to pay a fee in the USA to get that converted.

Agents to check out before you travel or make your purchases in Europe:

- Global Refund

- Premier Tax Free

Please remember, these are just general guidelines. Each country has different rules and you should make sure you check out the laws of the country you will be visiting before you go.

Tags

Europe Shopping, Europe Travel, Purchase Refund, Shopping, Shopping Tips, Tax Refund, Tourism, Tourist, Vat Return

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author avatar Team Shepherd
A nomadic freelancer who loves writing about arts and crafts, earning money online and sports.

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