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Vat tax refund...would you please explain how it works?

Vat tax refund...would you please explain how it works?

Old Jul 25th, 2002, 05:15 AM
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Vat tax refund...would you please explain how it works?

I've read many comments about getting a portion of your vat tax refunded, but I want to learn how.

As I understand it you request a form from any merchant where you spend _______ (some amount?). Does that include hotels/restaurants? Where at the airport does one present these forms? (Birmingham and CDG). They give the form back and you have to mail it? Is that right? Must one have the merchandise with one when turning in this form?

Old Jul 25th, 2002, 05:32 AM
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Only store purchases are accepted for VAT refund.

The store will fill out the form after you make your purchases. It is better to request to have your refund credited back to your credit card even if your purchase was in cash. When you arrive at the airport you look for the customs office and have the form stamped. You should have the purchases handy as customs may ask to see the items. Sometimes they don't ask but just in case do have them handy.

You are handed back the stamped form. There should be an office near the customs that you can go and present your form to get your refund immediately.
Old Jul 25th, 2002, 06:10 AM
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I found it's not worth the hassle unless you spend big bucks in one store. Some stores have minimum purchases or deduct an administrative surcharge for their effort.
Old Jul 25th, 2002, 08:59 AM
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Actually the VAT refunds can add up and it isn't as complicated as it sounds.

Be sure to use a credit card if you plan on claiming a VAT refund - the credit will be posted to your account in a few weeks. If you paid in cash you will receive a check in the mail in that country's currency and it may cost more to convert and deposit it to your home account than the amount of the check. I have a souvenir of a 1993 trip - a £7 (about $17 then) check that would have cost me $20 to deposit.

There is always a mail box right near the customs desk and you just drop the pre-paid envelope there.

Also - both airports also have agencies that will give you a cash refund on the spot (after getting the customs stamp) - but it will have a significant service charge.
Old Jul 25th, 2002, 10:42 AM
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You've received semi-correct info so far IMO, so here goes:

The VAT (value-added tax) for products purchased in the EU by non-residents AND EXPORTED out of the EU CAN be refunded. In theory, this is valid for any purchase, but most stores use specialized services to handle the paperwork and these will only accept claims for purchases above a certain amount (generally around 150$). These services also charge you a handling fee, so you will not be getting back the full amount, but with VAT rates at 15-20% in most EU countries, even allowing for the handling fee generally translates into a discount of about 12-18%.

You need to mention to the store that you would like to apply for a refund - they will fill out part of the form, then let you add your details (home address, passport nr - take at least a copy with you - nationality etc.). They take a copy and leave you with 2 copies and a prepaid envelope. This shouldn't take long (5-10 minutes max).

In order to get the refund you MUST get the form stamped by customs AT YOUR LAST POINT OF DEPARTURE IN THE EU (be careful, Switzerland is NOT part of the EU). In order to do so, simply go to the customs office, show them the forms, the merchandise (to prove you're actually exporting it), your passport and your plane ticket. The customs officer will then STAMP the forms.

Now that both copies of the form(s) are stamped, it's time to get your MONEY back! Keep one copy (generally the green one) for your records - the other one is either mailed in or handed to the refund counter (see below).

Depending on the handling service, you can sometimes get a cash refund directly at the airport. Otherwise it's always possible to enter your credit card details on the refund form and mail it to the handling company in the prepaid envelope supplied (this is possible even if you paid for your purchase in cash). The amount you get back is the same no matter which refund method you choose. In my (pretty extensive) experience, the refunds can take weeks, sometimes over a month, but they always come.

One caveat: a small (and shrinking minority) of shops do not use a handling service. You then need to return the form directly to the store (remember to purchase appropriate postage if the envelope is not prepaid or if you're sending it back from another country). This can be good - sometimes the store will note your CC number and credit your card when they receive the stamped copy (without deducting the fee that the handling company does), sometimes they will send you a check (pretty useless if you don't have a bank account in the country of purchase) or even worse they will require you to return to the store with your stamped form for a cash refund! As noted though this is really the exception nowadays - most stores use a handling service.

One last word of caution - leave some extra time to handle the customs paperwork at the airport - you don't want to miss out on the refund because you're late for your flight...

Old Jan 24th, 2010, 01:55 PM
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Hi Andre,

Could you please advise how could I get my forms stamped? I am confused as I am getting different replies, directing me to different course of action.

I took a train from Paris to Switzerland, and will be heading home to Singapore via Geneva-Amstersdam-Singapore. Where should I get my forms stamped?

I could think of 2 possibilities
1) Getting it stamped in Geneva - but Geneva is not EU
2) Getting it stamped in Amsterdam - I am in Amsterdam only for transit, can I exit the security area to head to the French custom office?

I am confused. Could you please help. Thanks in advance.
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Old Jan 24th, 2010, 02:08 PM
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Will you have time in Amsterdam between connections? If so, then you can do it there. Just ask anyone the location of customs and VAT refund. Then if you get a credit back on your CC, you will need to buy a stamp and mail the envelope. Be sure that you put enough postage on it to get it to it's destination.
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Old Jan 24th, 2010, 09:23 PM
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Hi scatat,

Thanks for your prompt reply. Yes, I have opted for CC refund and plan to mail the envelope only when I get back to Singapore.

My concerns are:
1) My connecting flight is only 1.5 hours in between, is this sufficient?

2) When I reach Amsterdam Schipol, do I need to exit the security area to get my form stamped? Is there a French custom office inside the security area? Anyone has done this at Schipol before without leaving the security area?

3) In the event that I need to exit the security area, am I allowed to do so?
ponnie is offline  
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