VAT refunds

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Dec 17th, 2002, 11:55 PM
  #1
traci
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VAT refunds

I'm posting this message as there was some recent discussion about getting VAT refunds. While that thread focussed on Cape Town, I noticed this weekend that the Gauteng Tourism Board have opened an office in Sandton City in Johannesburg, and they have VAT refund facilities on site. I reckon that if you are shopping in Jo'burg you will most likely end up in Sandton City at some stage so this will be a useful stop.
 
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Dec 18th, 2002, 05:09 AM
  #2
LT
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We left South Africa the beginning of September 2002, and are still waiting for our VAT refund to be mailed to us. I have contacted the agency twice and they assure me that the refund "is on its way". Have others experienced similar delays?
 
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Dec 18th, 2002, 09:07 AM
  #3
kim
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Maybe I am just lucky but I bought a diamond ring in Sandton my last trip (Bad me!) the price was about half what I would have paid in the States. I thought I would have to get a mail refund check but the guy at the airport gave me the money in dollars. It was at the bank next to the VAT office at JNB. Perhpas I was just being nice that day.
 
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Dec 22nd, 2002, 05:31 PM
  #4
sue
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I recently sent my VAT refund request to the CT office and am interested to see if I ever get the refund. I am not holding my breath. One thing I really felt uncomfortable with was putting all my details including passport number on the back of the envelope. Paranoid me I put it inside another envelope and wrote details inside. Kind of silly as anyone who really wants passport numbers etc could easily open up the envelope.
 
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Dec 28th, 2002, 03:40 PM
  #5
Pete
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When you leave South Africa, make sure that you have all items you have purchased ready for inspection. The staff at Capetown Airport are very helpful. When they issue you the cheque for your VAT refund, make sure you cash it in Capetown Departure Lounge before you get on the plane. I made the mistake of forgetting to do this on my 2nd trip this year and it caused all sorts of problems at my local bank in the UK. Not to mention the poor exchange rate & horrifying commission.
 
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Dec 28th, 2002, 10:02 PM
  #6
Selwyn Davidowitz
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When it comes to VAT refunds this is what I always advise those who travel with me:

As you travel keep all your VAT receipts in order of date ready to present to the VAT counter at the airport.

Pack all that you have purchased in the top part of your suitcase so that when opened all is easily visible. A very important point in this regard is that you WILL be asked to show the purchases. NOBODY escapes this enquiry.

DO NOT check your cases in before you visit the customs inspection desk. If you cannot show the purchase you will not be repaid your VAT

If you pack all your purchases in a separate bag life certainly will be much easier at the customs inspection desk. It is for this reason that I advise those who travel with me who might purchase a lot of items to purchase a second floppy type bag in South Africa which can be used to carry purchases back home. These bags are much cheaper in SA so don’t bother to bring an extra bag along on your journey, just purchase another one here.

As Pete very wisely advises DO NOT forget to cash your cheque at the bank on the other side of customs. If you don’t do this you will be in for a very hard time trying to cash the cheque when you return back home.

Do remember that when purchasing anything if you cannot show the purchase at the airport no VAT will be paid back. With that said if you buy anything that you will be shipping home make sure that the vendor who sells you your purchase (eg a box of wine) does not charge you the VAT. Many vendors will tell you that they have to charge you the VAT. This is not 100% correct as most have permission to not charge if the goods are shipped. This will generally take a bit of a fight on your behalf but it is worth the effort.

MOST IMPORTANT. There is absolutely no value in standing in lines at places like the V&A Waterfront or Sandton City. The reason as to why I am saying this is because all that these mini offices do is they give you a document prove that they have seen your purchases. You still have to then go to a special line at the VAT counter at the airport to collect your cheque. Furthermore if you have any items that you have purchased that you have not shown to the inspectors at the V&A or Sandton desk then you will have to get in line anyway so as to show them at the airport customs desk. All in all these desks are a waste of time in my opinion because they generally have long waiting lines and one faces the exact same lines at the airport once again so I ask the question why stand in line twice when you only need have to do this once?

If you are leaving SA in any other way than the airport eg, cruise liner then you will find that the VAT office will have a representative at certain hours on board boat to do all of the above.

Finally the biggest rip off of all is that presently you will be paying 14% VAT however you will only get back 13% as the SA govt charges a 1% admin fee for all of the above. I call this “legalised stealing” but then show as you well know if any government a method to milk a cash cow it will do so..

In summary I feel that the VAT system refunds suck big time but no matter what my feelings are they are not going to change the system as it represents to much of a money spinner for governments thus instead of moaning while waiting in line at the VAT desk simply take it easy and go with the flow . While doing this try to recollect the wonders of what you have seen in South Africa and not its terrible VAT refund system.

Enjoy South Africa if you ever visit us.

Selwyn Davidowitz
 
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