Tax Free: How It Works
“Tax free” is the literal translation of the name of this system. And, as a matter of fact, the translation accurately illustrates the possibilities that Tax Free provides.
Virtually all over the world, the price of any product includes VAT – value added tax. If you are not a citizen of the country where the purchase is made, but are going to export the purchased goods outside the state or economic zone, you have the right to receive a partial VAT refund. The return rate can be up to 19% of the stated price, so the savings are really significant.
Such privileges are valid for Ukrainians and Russians practically throughout Europe. Right on the windows of some stores (not all brands go for it) in local shopping centers, you will see a bright Tax Free sign and a logo of the refund operator. The most popular ones are Global Blue and Premier Tax Free. Minimum check amount and effective refund percentage vary by country. But you can always calculate the amount you will receive in the end in a special Tax Free calculator.
So, you have found shops or shopping centers that operate under the Tax Free system. Made a one-time purchase for an amount higher than the minimum (the seller or consultant will tell you about this). He must also issue a special Tax Free form, which is very important to fill out correctly. Here are a few essential points:
1. All data in the form must be entered in block letters of the Latin alphabet.
2. The standard form (white or blue) consists of the following items:
– the number of the foreign passport (you should take it with you to the shops so that you can check);
– name and surname (strictly the same as in a foreign passport);
– home address (street, house and apartment number);
– postal code (postcode or ZIP) and city (city);
– the country;
– E-mail address;
– signature (in blue forms, put on the back).
3. The form also contains the purchase price and the refund amount. But the seller does this, not the buyer.
It is very important to save, in addition to the completed form, also the cashier’s receipt. Tax refunds are impossible without it. Also, don’t rip off price tags or tags, don’t unpack unopened items, and of course don’t wear or taste them before crossing the border.
Also keep in mind that the Tax Free form always has an expiration date. In most European countries – 3 months. During this time, you are obliged to take the goods abroad, if you are late, you will not see a refund.
In order to confirm the export of goods, you need to get a stamp at customs when leaving the country. It is placed at the airport before departure, directly at the border if you are traveling by car or bus, or at the seaport, if you cross the border by ferry or liner. On the trains, customs officers themselves pass through the cars and put stamps.
To get a customs seal, you need to have with you:
- Filled out Tax Free form – they put a stamp in it
- Cash register receipt
- international passport
- The product itself is intact
Usually, a refund is made immediately after affixing this stamp at the counter of the company that carries out the refund, at airports, at the border or at the sea terminal. This procedure takes approximately 20 minutes. Money can be received in cash (in the currency of the country in which you receive the refund) or on a bank card such as Visa and Master Card (but in this case, a commission may be charged – about € 3). Refunds are received within 5 business days.
If suddenly you did not manage to receive your money at the border, you can always do it in your country at the operator’s office (in Ukraine there is only Global Blue, the list can be viewed here). In this case, the transfer will be carried out in the currency of your country, and for its processing, in addition to the above documents, you will need an ordinary passport.
If you often go shopping abroad, it makes sense to get a special Global Blue card. With it, you will not need to fill out the form every time, but only present the card in the store. You can also link a bank account to it, to which all refunds will be received automatically.
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