Whenever my friends are planning their next trip abroad they always ask me how to shop tax free! What is a tax refund? How do I get one? How much time does it take? Is it worth it? Getting your VAT refund is certainly worth the effort! Depending on what you purchase, your refund could be the equivalent of the cost of your flight!
So I’m going to go through the process of claiming your refund step by step! Trust me, it’s easy!
What is a tax refund? Once you are citizen from outside the EU you can avail of a service that allows you to receive a tax refund on the purchases you made in Europe.
When making purchases ask for your tax refund form
Stores where you can retrieve your tax refund will display the ‘Premier Tax Free’ logo. When paying for your purchases ensure that you ask for your tax refund voucher. In France, the value of your purchases must be greater or equal to €175. Make sure to have your passport, or your passport number, with you to prove that you are not a citizen of the EU. The voucher should be filled out using block capitals to ensure your details are correctly entered.
Upon leaving the country, retrieve your customs stamp
Allow yourself extra time at the airport before your flight to process your tax refund voucher. Before you check-in, go to customs (follow the signposts) and present your Premier Tax Free voucher, passport and purchases receipts.
Tip: Pack your purchases in your hand luggage as they will need to be shown to the customs officers in order to receive your stamp.
Receive your cash refund:
Once your voucher has been stamped by customs, head over to the cash refund desks at the airport. Make sure they display the Premier Tax Free logo. Simply show them your stamped voucher and you can choose to receive your refund in cash or directly into your account.
Good News: Some countries in Europe allow you to obtain your tax refund at the point of purchase or in a downtown cash refund location (see here). However, this doesn’t mean you’re exempt from receiving your customs stamp. Don’t forget to visit customs when leaving the country or the amount will be deducted from your credit card.
In a hurry?
No need to stress as you also have the option of posting your completed and signed form directly to Premier Tax Free instead of queuing in a cash refund office. In this case, use the envelope which was provided to you by the salesperson when you received your voucher. These envelopes are pre-paid so all you have to worry about is choosing whether to receive your refund by cheque or to your credit card.
Fill out your form correctly and accurately, especially your address and payment details. Include your email address as this allows for contact to be made quickly between you and Premier Tax Free should there be any need for clarification.
To receive your VAT refund, you must receive your customs stamp within 90 days of making your purchase.
In certain countries, such as France, UK and Switzerland, you will be charged a small fixed cost to receive your refund in cash.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask me! I have availed of this service so often in recent years that I’ve become a professional and will be sure to find the answer for you!