Tax free - partial VAT refund system

Tax free – in a number of countries a system of partial VAT refund (value added tax) when buying and exporting goods by foreigners. As a rule, it is used in large stores when purchasing goods over a certain amount. Money can be returned when crossing the border or in the country of permanent residence.

Not everyone tried to take advantage of this - abroad tourists have many other concerns, and certainly not everyone understands: how does it work? and why was this system created?

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The official recommendations for using this service are as follows:

  • Purchase. Buy where you see the Tax Free sign - just ask for the completed Global Refund check there.
  • Customs clearance. When leaving the country, look for a Tax Free sign at the airport, walk up and show your purchase receipts and your passport to customs officials. Be prepared for the fact that you may be asked to show purchased items.
  • Refund. Collect money in cash at the nearest Global Refund office or send a check to Global Refund to have a bank check sent to you at the address indicated or for direct transfer to your credit card.

In fact, everything is a little more complicated, and we need to dwell on some points in more detail.

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When buying, do not forget:

  • VAT can be returned only to a person who is not a citizen of this country (not an EU citizen, if it is in Europe), came with a short visit (no more than 3 months), without a residence permit, is not a refugee and did not come to work for a long term.
  • VAT refunds in most countries do not apply to books, tobacco products (which usually have less VAT), sometimes food and any services rendered.
  • Most countries do not refund all VAT. The refund system is based on the fact that part of the refunded money is taken by the organization itself (Global Refund or Premier Tax Free) to reimburse its costs, and the share received by the buyer is the greater, the greater the purchase amount.
  • The Tax Free check must be correctly drawn up by the seller in the store, the VAT refund amount must be affixed immediately, and the purchase amount must match the sales receipt. Without a cashier's check (which is usually pinned), the Tax Free check is not valid! The number on the check must be affixed to paper labels (seals).
  • In most countries, Tax Free checks are valid for three months after the month of purchase (except: Switzerland and Liechtenstein – 30 days, Canada and Singapore – 60 days). It doesn't matter when you made your purchase - on the 1st or 30th, the check is valid for the current month and the next three (except Slovenia, Ireland, Levan, Korea – here the check is valid for three months strictly (!) From the date of purchase)
  • When buying, the seller may ask you to show your passport and fill out a check, indicating the name, surname, passport number, exact address (in Uzbekistan). If you forget to fill out a check in the store, it's okay: you will be forced to write them at the Tax Free office.

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When making a return and receiving money, keep in mind:

  • Stock up in advance with a special Tax Free refund leaflet. Usually you can grab them at the cash register in the store, or at the window of a special checkout point. They are detailed in many languages, incl. and in Russian, where exactly at the airport is the customs control point and cash desk for issuing money. Arrive at the airport early. The place of registration may be quite far from the customs or Tax Free counter, there may be a queue. If asked to present goods for inspection, they will have to be re-packed, so a margin of time is simply necessary.
  • Upon arrival at the airport (port, train station), before passport control, go to the customs officer (or Tax Free checkpoint) and he will put a stamp on your receipts issued in the store. Sometimes things are asked to be presented for inspection, sometimes not, but they always check the number on the Tax Free receipt with the number of paper labels (seals) on the package with the goods. It is advisable not to check in the goods or to get a stamp before you check in your luggage, and then pack the goods in your luggage and check in. At some airports, there is an additional special point where your luggage will be inspected and it will be noted which things you have handed over, if this interests the customs officer at the Tax Free counter.
  • Important!!! Do not use goods before crossing the border! Items presented to the customs officer for a Tax Free refund must be new with labels (seals) on the package. If you accidentally torn the labels (seals) on the shopping bag, pretend that they allegedly broke right here and now. Sometimes, right in the store, they give paper seals-stickers to the goods separately, so that they do not accidentally break before inspection, and ask the buyer to stick them before the inspection. If the bag contains all the goods mentioned in the check, and they were not used, then there is no crime here.
  • Check in and drop off your baggage. After personal inspection at the entrance to the Duty Free zone, go to the Tax Free window and receive your money in foreign currency (Euro or USD). Please be aware that this may take some time depending on the size of the airport and the queue at the ticket office. More time will not be superfluous!
  • Upon receipt of the VAT refund in cash, the cashier's check is torn off and given to you (for a guarantee, etc.).
  • If you want the money to be transferred to a credit card account, then fill in the details of your account in the Tax Free check and give it to the window (put it in a special box or send it to the address from home). The money will be transferred to your account within 5 weeks (60 days maximum during high season).
  • You can receive a Eurocheck to the address indicated on the form and cash it out at the bank.
  • Today, many banks provide such a service as cashing the Tax Free checks themselves (if no more than 6 or 12 months have passed since their redemption at customs). Checks from each of the world's two Tax Free systems are accepted by different banks. It should be borne in mind that many banks charge 1-3% for collection and up to 2% for cashing the check amount. Or they give out money only in a certain currency and at the same time apply their own exchange rates, which slightly reduces the amount of payments. Therefore, the easiest option is to get a VAT refund in cash and not bother with checks, banks, etc.

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