Tax-Free Shopping

Nearly all the price tags you see will already include Value-Added Tax (V.A.T.), or what the Dutch call B.T.W. (belasting over de toegevoegde waarde). Most consumer goods and luxury items (including alcohol) are taxed at 21%, basic goods and services at 6%. If you're a non–European Union (EU) resident, you can claim this back. When spending €50 or more at a store, ask for a V.A.T. refund form to be completed on your behalf and attach it to your receipt; repeat this ritual wherever you shop. Then, before leaving the EU, have your forms stamped by an airport customs official; be ready to show your forms and receipts, plus all new, unused goods you've purchased (keep them separate from checked-in luggage). Finally, complete the process by visiting the V.A.T. FREE service desk at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Departure Hall 3), through their website (www.vatfree.com), or by mail. According to Dutch law, the form is only valid when stamped within three months after purchase.

Global Blue is a Europe-wide service with more than 270,000 affiliated stores and hundreds of refund counters worldwide. Its Tax Free Check remunerates shoppers via cash, check, or credit-card adjustment. Global Blue also offers Currency Choice, allowing you to pay in your own currency. For more information, visit www.global-blue.com or call 866/706–6090 in the United States (800/32–111–111 in the EU).

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