Tax Free: how to get the money back on purchases made abroad

Tax Free allows you to return 8-27% of the value of purchases made abroad. “Lifehacker” tells how to make it.

Tax Free: как вернуть деньги с покупок, сделанных за рубежом

Photo: Depositphotos

What is Tax Free

Tax Free — this return system of value added tax with the purchase, which was committed by a foreign citizen.

The value added tax is included in the final cost of the product. The sums are transferred by the seller into the state budget where allocated to various social programs. Foreigners are not involved in social mechanisms of the country, and therefore exempt from tax. This right is not issued by a discount, and a refund of overpaid money after leaving the country.

How much you can save

The amount of returned money depends on the size of the value added tax established in the specific country where the original purchase. The minimum share is 8%, this is the size of the Tax Free set in Japan. The most generous in the list of countries providing Tax-Free, remains Hungary: by default, it returns 27% of the price.

The amount returned to reality, may be significantly less than the one on which a tourist expects. The money is usually returned through a third party organization with which the store has contracted. For services the intermediary will leave part of the funds themselves. Major companies operating from Tax Free — Planet, Global Blue, Innova Tax Free.

What to buy to get Tax Free

In most countries it is possible to return the tax at purchase of clothing, footwear, household and electronic appliances, watches and jewelry.

While online shopping, books, food, medicines, Souvenirs and services may not be covered by the regulations on VAT refund to foreigners.

“If the VAT of the product in the country is 0%, the return to issue will not work. For example, in the UK this rate is valid for children’s clothes, books, tea.

In addition, the tax is not back with purchases that you cannot take with you and put in a bag to show to the customs officer at the border. This will include payment for services, tickets for musicals and other performances, hotel accommodation, lunch in the restaurant”, — said the expert on tax return Charlotte Smith.

How to get Tax Free

To make a purchase

On the door or the window of a store that provides receipts for Tax refund, is an appropriate label. The information is usually in English, so do not have to be a polyglot to understand it.

On the sticker will also be provided the name of company through which you will issue refund.

To issue the Tax Free cheque

For returns Tax Free need to the seller has issued the special checks. In any country, you can query for keywords Tax Free voucher or Tax Free form. This document is attached to a standard till receipt. For registration of securities will need a passport or its copy. Make sure that all personal data has been transferred to the form correctly as mistakes may be grounds for refusal of tax refund.

In each country set a minimum amount for which checks are issued Tax Free. For example, in Germany it is 25 Euro, in France — 175 Euro in the Netherlands — for 50 euros in the UK — £ 30 in Argentina — 70 Argentine pesos, Japan — 5 thousand yen.

Buying this amount should be issued one check. In shopping malls sometimes there are special departments, which will collect information about your purchases from different stores into a single document.

Food and non-food products cannot be paid in one check.

To put a stamp on the customs

When leaving the country where you purchased purchase, you have to put a customs stamp on the export of things. To do this, officers need to present receipts and goods in packaging without signs of use. For credibility, you can save bags of shopping.

EU member States are considered a single zone, so to put a stamp on the removal of the necessary in the country through which you leave the EU.

The stamp is put in a special office at the customs, to find him standing at the plate Tax Free office or or VAT Refund. If it is before the check-in counters, just contact him and get the appropriate seal. Sometimes the customs office of the Tax Free registration is for the reception. In this case, put the acquired in the country things in your hand Luggage, to have something to confirm the purchase.

There are checks your expiration date within which you need to put on them the stamp of customs. Most often to print documents should be within three months from the date of purchase. In Switzerland, Norway, Morocco, the sentence was reduced to one month.

To get money

To get the VAT refund in material terms you have three options:

1. At the airport

With the checks, which put the stamp of customs, please contact the Tax Refund office of the intermediary company, which is listed in your documents. The required amount can give cash or transfer the card data which you provide.

For the issuance of tax in cash, the company may withhold a percentage to the map tools come without any deductions. Some companies establish a at airports a special mailbox where you can drop the cheque stamped by customs and a credit card number to which the money will come.

“If you want to receive the VAT in cash at the airport, be careful. This service can cost you additional fees in the amount of 10-20% of the amount of VAT due to the unfavorable exchange rate and an additional fee for cash payment. Therefore, if you do not feel an urgent need for cash, better to save and wait for the arrival of the payment to your designated Bank account or card upon your arrival home,” said Charlotte Smith.

2. When crossing the border by land

Office Tax Refund can be set at the checkpoint. In this case, you must obtain a stamp from the Agency, and then ask for a refund.

3. Through the mail

Send your cheque stamped by customs intermediary company in the mail. The address must be specified on the document itself. Remember to fill in a form for a credit card number. The money will come at the expense of the average after 1-2 months.

4. In the Bank

In some cases, you can return the money in a Bank, which cooperates with the intermediary company in the payment Tax Free. Global Blue gives money in Kaliningrad, Moscow and Saint‑Petersburg through the Bank “Intesa”, in the Pskov — through “JSCB Slavia”; Innova Tax Free through SMPbank in Moscow, Chelyabinsk, Saint‑Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Ekaterinburg. Full list of financial institutions which issue money, can be seen on the website of your broker.

In rare cases, the tax you can return to the store immediately after purchase. But then you definitely will need to mail the Tax Free cheque stamped by customs, otherwise the issued amount will debit your card.

Why can deny the return of tax

  • Form Tax Free filled with errors.
  • You don’t put a customs stamp on the export things from the country where I bought them.
  • The date on the cash receipt and Tax Free form do not match. This rule is not respected in all countries. For example, in Spain sum up the purchases at the same store on different days.

According to instructions you can apply for a VAT receipt, which is stamped at customs in the period from three months (Belgium, Greece, Morocco and so on) to infinity (Netherlands, Lithuania, Lebanon). In practice, it is better not to delay treatment because of money, otherwise may be rejected.