VAT refunds, how to avoid them.

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So when you buy merchandise or other goods as a tourist, what you take home is considered an export. Accordingly, you are entitled to a refund for the VAT portion of the price. On the other hand, when you stay in a hotel or eat a restaurant meal, those services are consumed locally rather than exported.

5 Foreign VAT Reclaim Mistakes That Will Get Your Claim Dismissed - W2V

Accordingly, tourists are not entitled to VAT refunds on those purchases. Some business travelers are allowed to recover VAT on services, but the process is so complicated that only large corporations with heavy business travel ever try to recover it. Many countries exempt some purchases entirely or apply reduced percentages on "essential" purchases such as food, rent, transportation, and medical services.

A few countries also exempt certain regions from VAT or apply reduced rates because of quasi-independent status or to encourage economic development. Keep in mind that the VAT rate is the amount added to a pretax base price, not a percentage of the final price.

What is VAT and How Do I Claim it Back?

As a practical matter, merchandise prices you see in stores almost always include VAT. So do posted hotel rates and restaurant prices. The general rule is that what you see is what you pay. Also, some localities impose the equivalent of sales taxes, in addition to VAT, on hotel accommodations, but they do not include these in the posted price; these additional taxes are usually quite low. Most European countries allow you to recover VAT when you "export" an item. But you must prove that the goods actually left the taxing authority before collecting your refund.

If you leave by plane, you have to show the goods after you pass through the customs formalities. To qualify for a refund, the goods must be new and unused.


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If you buy some high-fashion accessories in Paris, for example, you shouldn't use them until you leave the EU. Many countries establish a minimum price per item or daily value per store to qualify for a VAT refund. This minimum ranges from zero in Ireland, Germany, and the U.

VAT refunds 101: How to save on shopping in Europe

Buy from stores that handle VAT-refund paperwork. How long the shipping agent uses for customs clearance varies, and questions related to this must be directed to the shipping agent.

The item has usually completed customs processing when you receive it. In some cases you may nevertheless receive the item before it has completed customs processing. If the package is labelled do not open it before customs clearance, or you for other reasons are unsure whether you may use the item, contact you shipping agent. You can choose to do the customs processing yourself.

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In practice there is little or nothing to gain by doing this, as experience shows that the shipping agent will charge you for storage and processing of the package in any case. It is possible to be reimbursed duties for items you return. Private individuals are banned from importing certain items. Other items are bound by restrictions. This entails that you must have a special permit or license to import the item.


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  • You can find more information on restrictions for such items at the authority responsible for the regulations. Examples of restricted items where you must check the regulations :. Norwegian Customs can check any item that arrives in the country. You are responsible for complying with the rules. If it proves that you have ordered items that are banned in Norway, you may be prosecuted.

    Norwegian Customs do not require that you disclose your personal identity number to foreign sellers. However, it may be the case that the shipping agent requires the personal identity number when clearing the item for you. When shopping from foreign online stores, you may be asked to disclose your personal identity number 11 digits.

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    If you do not want to disclose your personal identity number to the online store, you may request that you disclose the number directly to the shipping agent if this is required. Report inappropriate content. Related: What are the most popular tours in London? See all. Best Seller. Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath from London. Warner Bros. Level Contributor.

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