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be-em-veh-808
10-24-2006, 04:35 PM
All you experienced ED-ers, have any of you used/benefited from the VAT refund service that's available/offered in these "Global Refund" sites @ MUC airport?

While I was looking through the MUC airport website, I came across this....

http://www.globalrefund.com/default.asp?viewSiteId=1

It sounds like when you buy goods from Germany and keep the receipts, you can go to these Refund Centers and they'll process the papers to give you your VAT refund (less a transaction charge).

So, with VAT ~ 16% in Germany, the website says you get as much as 12.5% back. Not bad if you buy a few hundred $ or Euros of stuff.

So, is this as good as it sounds? ED Veterans, please enlighten us!!!

JSpira
10-24-2006, 04:52 PM
This is pretty standard and works as long as you are not a resident of the country.

Most shops have forms for the refund of the MWSt through this service.

The only caveat is that they take a big cut.

On large purchases (such as a watch at Wempe), Ive arranged for the store to refund the MWSt. directly to me. That way I got 100%.

be-em-veh-808
10-24-2006, 05:26 PM
This is pretty standard and works as long as you are not a resident of the country.

Most shops have forms for the refund of the MWSt through this service.

The only caveat is that they take a big cut.

On large purchases (such as a watch at Wempe), Ive arranged for the store to refund the MWSt. directly to me. That way I got 100%.

And for us non-German-speakers, is it pretty straightforward to request it from retailers?
What's the process/requirements?

X3 Skier
10-24-2006, 05:29 PM
The only caveat is that they take a big cut.

On large purchases (such as a watch at Wempe), Ive arranged for the store to refund the MWSt. directly to me. That way I got 100%.

I second all that. Besides, the hassle at the airport including locating the refund desk makes this a not too pleasant experience. :thumbdwn:

Most merchants of high value items will have a department specifically for VAT refunds. For example, both Fortnum and Mason and Harrod's in London have desks set up to handle VAT refunds. :thumbup:

If you are going to make a bunch of small purchases, remember most countries have a limit on the refund based on the value , Again for example, last week in Lodon it was a minimum of 80 Pounds per item (I think) for a VAT Refund. Anything below that you get the opportunity of absorbing the cost. :)

Unless I am getting a High Dollar item, I just compare the price with VAT included vs. US prices and make the decision to buy or pass or get it at the Duty Free Store at the airport.

Cheers

mason
10-24-2006, 06:12 PM
Straight forward and easy. There is also English instruction.

ryanzak
10-24-2006, 06:36 PM
We collected the forms for what we bought but we decided it wasn't worth it. Also, if you have the merchant ship the more expensive items, they take the tax off automatically.

JSpira
10-24-2006, 06:55 PM
And for us non-German-speakers, is it pretty straightforward to request it from retailers?
What's the process/requirements?
Yes, it is easy. You will see signs: "Tax Free Shopping" in busy areas.

beewang
10-24-2006, 10:27 PM
A couple things to remember:

1) You must have the items to claim for refund with you (and NOT in checked luggae) to show the items to the Custom. If they can't see your purchases, then you will have NO stamp and thus NO refund.

2) The folks at Global refund is a f**king rip-off!!:rolleyes: The bastards gets a nice cut for funding the money to you. Further more, if you choose to take the money in US Dollars instad of Euros, the exchange rate is ONE to ONE:mad: That is another 23% margin based on today's rate. Learned my lesson years ago and I have ALWAYS choose to take EUROS.:tsk:

be-em-veh-808
10-25-2006, 12:13 AM
A couple things to remember:

1) You must have the items to claim for refund with you (and NOT in checked luggae) to show the items to the Custom. If they can't see your purchases, then you will have NO stamp and thus NO refund.

2) The folks at Global refund is a f**king rip-off!!:rolleyes: The bastards gets a nice cut for funding the money to you. Further more, if you choose to take the money in US Dollars instad of Euros, the exchange rate is ONE to ONE:mad: That is another 23% margin based on today's rate. Learned my lesson years ago and I have ALWAYS choose to take EUROS.:tsk:

Thanks for all the input from the Vet'rans here!!!!

I think I'll try to shop @ stores that offer Tax Free Shopping (as JSpira mentioned). Looking for some Bree and Mandarina Duck briefcase/luggage.

mason
10-25-2006, 07:36 AM
Ducks are cool. :thumbup:

By the way, I have always done it in a way that they check the goods and stamp the paper, then I would mail it in. I let them credit to my credit card. Quick easy.

NateXTR
10-25-2006, 10:47 AM
[QUOTE=beewang;1983139]A couple things to remember:

1) You must have the items to claim for refund with you (and NOT in checked luggae) to show the items to the Custom. If they can't see your purchases, then you will have NO stamp and thus NO refund.

Yeah and the items need to be in "new" condition. I bought a pair of shoes in Italy, and didn't wear them so I could be sure that I got all of my cash. Thankfully, I read the instructions on the back of the global refund sheet. However, when all was said and done, I saved close to two hundred dollars buying my shoes over there. Definitely worth the hassle.

mbushnell
10-25-2006, 12:28 PM
Most merchants of high value items will have a department specifically for VAT refunds. For example, both Fortnum and Mason and Harrod's in London have desks set up to handle VAT refunds. :thumbup:
Cheers

Au Printemps in Paris is set up the same way, with a special desk you had to go to in order to get the required forms.

The only problem that I had (if you can call it a problem), was when I went to leave from CDG.

The French Customs VAT Counter was on the other side of the International Arrivals exit from the airline Check-in counter. There were several International Arrivals at this time, with a mob of people waiting for others coming off of International flights.

Needless to say, I had to work my way through the crowd to get to the Customs VAT counter. At least I had the item that I was claiming (a leather jacket) in my carry-on. I asked if they wanted to see it, but the customs agent said "no", so it stayed in the bag.

After the forms were stamped, I was told to mail the form in before I left France, so I ask where the nearest mail box is. It's on the other side of the mob outside of Internaitonal Arrivals, So back I go, to mail the forms.

Once that is done, where's my departure gate? - on the Customs side of the mob, so a third trip through the mass of humanity...

bimmer12safrad
10-25-2006, 12:48 PM
Yes and no. It is best if you have all the items to show the agent. I U do the process is routine. If you packed the items and have the receipts you must then get the receipts or form stamped in by another agent in another area of the airport (a hastle). The Agents are accustomed to this dilema and if you are civil in your behavior you will get your refund along with a the required info pamphlet-after the fact. There is more to this tax refund. The rules should be uniform throught the Union but they are not. Learn all U can.

JSpira
10-25-2006, 01:53 PM
I think I've been asked once in 10 years to show a purchased item to a customs officer; I've been asked one or two times if I have the items with me. Most of the time it's ,,Gr Gott, wren Sie so nett, meine Mehrwertssteuerformulare zu stempeln?`` and I am out the door and walking across the hall to the Tax Free Shopping counter to get the Euros back.

bimmer12safrad
10-25-2006, 02:16 PM
Same here Spira. Though countries differ. Addressing Munich airport- Seems that they have a different processing if you have packed the items, but U can still get the your refund. Then again, each person,each day and each Custom agent can account for different exp. Make life interesting.

b-y
10-25-2006, 03:23 PM
You should have seen my wife trying to explain to the Munich duty-free person why the Henkel knives she bought had to be in checked luggage per US & German security regulations but she thought they should stamp her form so she could get the refund. Some systems are just not meant to work...:thumbdwn:

emdreiSMG
10-31-2006, 07:02 AM
Okay, I have now had my 3rd differnet experience getting the refund. It was a HUGE runaround, PIA, wild goose chase, time-wasting hassle previously when I tried it (in Switzerland, Italy and Cologne). You may be thoroughly confused and frustrated when you actually try it, but here are some basics about this process...

-You may ONLY get the customs stamp and be eligible for refund AT YOUR DEPARTURE POINT FROM THE EU. i.e. If you buy goods in Italy, then continue on through Switzerland and Germany, finally dropping your car off in Munich, DON"T WORRY about any of the customs/refund procedures until you get to Munich Airport (your EU departure point).

-DO remember that you should tell the clerks in the store (where you are buying your items) that you want the refund paperwork filled out. They can save you alot of time and effort if you just tell them. IME they will put together a nice little paperwork bundle so you don't have to keep track of the individual papers and that also saves you doing the filling out yourself.

-Customs is called 'ZOLL' in German and you can look for the signs. Global refund office locations are on the paperwork you get @time of purchase, but their office is clearly visible around the corner (LEFT as you pass by the US AIR check in lines at MUNICH AIRPORT).

In Munich Airport yesterday it was much easier for me, these are your choices...

1.)IF YOU WANT TO PACK YOUR PURCHASES IN YOUR CHECKED BAGGAGE:

Check in at the ticket counter. Get your boarding passes and get check-tags for ALL of your luggage. Take away from the counter ONLY your bag(s) that will carry the items you purchased. Go to customs (near Lufthansa and US Airways CHECK IN AREA in Terminal 2) and show them your paperwork, offer to have them inspect the items. Get customs stamp on your paperwork. CUSTOMS THEN SENDS YOUR BAG DOWN THE CONVEYOR BELT AND ONTO THE PLANE. You can now walk 20 steps around the corner (also by Luft./US Air) to the 'GLOBAL REFUND' office. Indeed DO get your refund in EUROS or CREDITED TO YOUR CARD.

2.)IF YOU WILL CARRY YOUR ITEMS ON THE PLANE:
Do all of your checking in and pray that you can complete the steps necessary UPSTAIRS with customs and the global refund office. Upstairs is your last opportunity since you will have passed through security(unless you really have alot of time and patience).

IME the office PAST security was poorly manned/attended. You might get the runaround up there and it could cost you time. Also, the 'Checked Baggage' Customs office will NOT help you with items if you do NOT have a bag with 'checked' TAG. In other words, don't try to take them your backpack/purse full of goods. Also don't try to take them your suitcase if you haven't checked it yet.

acf69
10-31-2006, 07:31 PM
My problem in Germany is that my Dutch passport doesn't show my resident address (like German passports do). So I always bring my tax returns which are so complicated they forget to ask me to show the goods

chief3
11-01-2006, 03:36 PM
Damn, never thought about the troubles of trying to get thru customs....As military we purchase the vat forms for a couple bucks and then just give it to any merchant that accepts them. they turn in their copy and we turn in our copy to the military. thats it...the stuff is ours...

DavidNY
11-01-2006, 03:50 PM
Damn, never thought about the troubles of trying to get thru customs....As military we purchase the vat forms for a couple bucks and then just give it to any merchant that accepts them. they turn in their copy and we turn in our copy to the military. thats it...the stuff is ours...

But if you travel as a tourist, you would still be subject to any customs declarations of course. What you are saying would only be true if you are living in Germany on assignment and buy something in Germany. Of course, when you return to the states, there would be no customs that is a relocation, correct?

chief3
11-02-2006, 06:01 AM
yep! Example...my wife and I went to the Czech Republic to buy crystal - everything....we got the forms from the folks there...they filled out their end, we crossed the border, and then took the forms and goods to the frankfurt airport. they bi*ched at us for not having tickets to leave the country, but they eventually gave us our money and we went back to our house - darmstadt, GE. no taxes when we eventually left the country. in and around germany, we use the tax forms for larger, more expensive items. furniture, clocks, kitchen wares, etc. The military has the program down for us...years of experience. we pay the cost without taxes and just take the forms back to base. They handle the rest. and like you said, no taxes upon leaving germany.
were on our way back...this time to get more....namely an M5!!!

chrischeung
03-02-2012, 10:21 PM
Resurrecting an old thread.

Any idea how long the entire process takes for customs stamp and refund? I'm connecting from CDG into FRA, and have a 50 minute connection before my departure home. Coming into terminal 2, departing from gate D5 also terminal 2. Map - http://www.global-blue.com/traveller-services/tax-free-shopping/refund-points/frankfurt-terminal-2/ It looks like everything is right outside the departure gate.

This will be around 9am, and I'll be traveling business class on the inbound and outbound. Is this too tight a time?

b-y
03-03-2012, 12:27 PM
Resurrecting an old thread.

Any idea how long the entire process takes for customs stamp and refund? I'm connecting from CDG into FRA, and have a 50 minute connection before my departure home. Coming into terminal 2, departing from gate D5 also terminal 2. Map - http://www.global-blue.com/traveller-services/tax-free-shopping/refund-points/frankfurt-terminal-2/ It looks like everything is right outside the departure gate.

This will be around 9am, and I'll be traveling business class on the inbound and outbound. Is this too tight a time?

Chris:

This SHOULD work, but it depends on the queues, if any. In Munich, you need to make two stops, first to customs past the international check-in and security barriers and then to the refund desk. I assume that is how FRA works, but I have no recent experience there as I have been on a mission to avoid FRA whenever possible.

Gluhwein
03-04-2012, 09:16 AM
My wife had the cuckoo clock shipped home and the 19% VAT was never charged. Brought the pine cone weights home in the suitcase to save 50% on the shipping charges.

FrankAZ
03-04-2012, 11:02 AM
This is not mentioned in this thread so I'll add it for completeness...

The third-party refund agents such as Global Refund operate a one form per retailer scheme. This means that if you buy items from many stores you will need one form for each chain of stores and every form will incur the high per-form fee which makes refunds for low-value shopping uneconomic. If you decide that VAT refund makes sense, and all other things being equal, it is best to:


Have high value single items shipped directly to your home. Often this will avoid having to pay VAT which you will pay fees to reclaim. You run the risk of being assessed customs duties if the item qualifies.

Concentrate your shopping in one or very few stores (or chains) and collect your form from their VAT refund depts at the end of your trip. Just take all the receipts for your shopping from that store (chain) and your passport there when you are confident that all the shopping has been completed.

Seeking the lowest price in a store (chain) may not be the best overall strategy since a somewhat higher price in a store in which you can do all your shopping can work out the lower net out-of-pocket after VAT refund processing fees.

If you really like some quirky item(s) you discover in Europe but don't value the personal souvenir aspect check an online retailer such as Amazon.de or Amazon.co.uk. They don't charge VAT when shipping goods to the US and the VAT will be deleted during the checkout process. The listed prices include VAT and are more than you'll be charged. Amazon's shipping charges are also very competitive - in fact lower than you'll find anywhere else. They pass most of their high-volume discount on to the customer and don't make an additional profit on shipping. But, if you spend a lot in one transaction (or one shipment) customs duties may be assessed.


I buy 80%+ of all my clothing in Europe and use VAT refunded shopping every time I travel there. They know me in my regular stores and have, after 2-3 trips per year for 14 years, reached the stage when they often just let me fill in the form myself (contrary to regs). I know the process better than they do. Except for the first time I tried this (in 1998) I have never packed my new clothes in carry-on bags (too bulky anyway) and I have never been asked to present them. In fact, I can only recall a few occasions when anyone was on duty at the customs office at either MAN, CDG or FRA and I have usually just posted my completed VAT refund form through the slot in their office door for them to stamp and drop in the mail for me. I have my refunds credited to either my GBP or EUR bank accounts to avoid punitive exchange fees - if I didn't have those accounts I think a credit to my credit card would be best since the CC's exchange rate is much preferable. I get my refund in 6-10 weeks without fail.

I often buy small items through Amazon.co.uk. I have never been assessed duty on items shipped by Amazon. I was assessed a small duty of a few dollars on some Ercol dining chairs which were shipped to me by a store in Manchester (to replace some damaged in a move) and that was annoying since making that small payment held up the whole process for 2 weeks.

Frank.

HWF
03-04-2012, 06:52 PM
After picking up my car in Munich, I'll be driving through Germany, Austria, Italy and France over a two-week period. At the end, I'll drive across the France/Switzerland border and drop the car off in Geneva before flying home from GVA the next morning. Any suggestions on how to handle the VAT refund?

FrankAZ
03-04-2012, 08:36 PM
I'll be flying out of GVA a week on Thursday. I'll be looking for a customs stamp to validate a claim for stuff I expect to be buying in France next week. I'll remind myself how it works then - last time I used GVA/GGV was on July 13 2009 after I dropped my ED car off and now I forget where the customs office is. I don't remember difficulties then though so it's probably well signed.

Frank.

HWF
03-04-2012, 08:44 PM
The reason I asked my question is that Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, and I thought they would not participate in the EU VAT refund process.

FrankAZ
03-04-2012, 11:26 PM
The reason I asked my question is that Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, and I thought they would not participate in the EU VAT refund process.

Sorry. Geneva Airport straddles the political border between France and Switzerland and thus between the EU and Switzerland. When you pass through the airport between the French side (GGV) and the Swiss side (GVA) you are afforded the opportunity to declare goods and have VAT refund forms signed.

Until late last year there was a clean and recognizable border within the airport with passport control and everything. Now that Switzerland is a Schengen Agreement signatory and free passage is possible I'm not certain where the customs office is now located. It's probably where it was. It's in there somewhere.

I do know that last Saturday, when my wife's friend had to get her Swiss employment visa 'activated' by leaving and re-entering Switzerland, it was so easy to pass back and forth between the French and Swiss sides that she had to inquire where a Swiss immigration official was. So, if you are anywhere in the airport it is an easy matter to stroll from one side to another and therefore wherever you start from you can pass from France into Switzerland. Your form needs to be stamped by a French customs officer. If you find a Swiss one it is too late - turn around and retrace the last 100 yards.

Frank.

chrischeung
03-05-2012, 07:05 AM
Frank,

Can you tell me more about the process to drop the paperwork in to customs to stamp and mail? Do I need to buy stamps in advance? What option do I select, like check or credit to credit card account?

Thanks.

FrankAZ
03-05-2012, 08:06 AM
Frank,

Can you tell me more about the process to drop the paperwork in to customs to stamp and mail? Do I need to buy stamps in advance? What option do I select, like check or credit to credit card account?

Thanks.

I keep writing 'Global Refund'. They changed their name to 'Global Blue'. You may see both names on signs in shops. There are other VAT refund processing firms too, but Global Blue are the most common in my experience.

The form should be filled out by a store employee and then receive their signature to say they filled it out. It is sufficient for them to categorize multiple items together such as "mens' clothing" as a line entry otherwise it could take forever. Some poorly trained employees try to itemize everything and it just isn't necessary. They just need to show what kind of goods are being claimed for so that Global Blue can determine whether they qualify. Anything tangible on which VAT has been paid and which you remove from the EU qualifies. So, in the UK childrens' clothing doesn't (no VAT), nor does food (different rates typically which would make the calculation too tricky). They also need to stamp or otherwise mark on the receipts to show that VAT is/will be reclaimed from them. You don't need to make a decision of how or where to collect your refund when the form is filled out - you can do that later in the comfort of your hotel room. Just make sure you collect a store signature and an envelope before you leave the store. It is ULTRA-IMPORTANT that there are no crossings out or corrections on the itemization or calculation part of the form since any of that disqualifies the application. You could have post-edited the form to add fictional items. So, if the employee makes an error INSIST that they start over. They should not object since that is part of their training for that form. They may curse under their breath a little. Happens all the time.

The form provides a small number of refund options. The easiest is 'cash' but that requires there to be a Global Blue refund desk at the airport or port of exit. There are not too many of those and even when there are I rarely have time to hang around waiting in line there while my family cools its heels so I have only used that option once. The other two options are a credit to your credit card or a credit to your bank, or perhaps a wire too (not sure about the wire option). You note down the details of your desired receiving account on the form. Easy-peasy.

The store provides you a pre-paid envelope in which to mail the form to the refund processing center after it has received the stamp from customs so there is no need to worry about buying your own postage. When you arrive at the airport it will probably be easiest ask where the customs desk is. Usually they are just after a security check-point but in GGV/GVA I am not sure. You may have to walk to the sterile side of another security check-point to find the customs office for that terminal. When you get there you will most likely be faced with a locked door which has a mail-slot in it or nearby. If you mail the unsealed envelope through that slot the customs officer will stamp it, seal the envelope, and it will find its way into the mail. RARELY there is a bored or mildly irritated customs officer there who will place his stamp on the form for you while you wait. Minor chit-chat may ensue. Often they will accept the sealed envelope back from you for mailing since by then there may not be a convenient mailbox to use. In theory they could ask to see the goods being exported from the EU, but as I say that has never happened to me. YMMV, of course.

I've always used the 'pay to bank account' option and provided a bank in the same currency as the refund so I've never fallen foul of their exchange rate or used the credit card option. I am sure that if I did use a credit card it would work just as well. I think any currency exchange would occur using the credit card's system not Global Blue's so the rate would be far superior.

The form has a long reference number. Make a note of that. After about 2 weeks it shows up on the processing status page of GB's website so you know that all is well. Also, there is no need to include the receipts in the envelope with the form, but I usually do since I have never needed to return goods and returning them would be a PITA anyway with 'VAT Refunded' writ large on the receipt. I figure that showing the receipts to the customs officer in lieu of the goods can only help.

Frank.

(UPDATED to add detail, fix typos).

VIZSLA
04-03-2012, 09:22 AM
Au Printemps in Paris is set up the same way, with a special desk you had to go to in order to get the required forms.

The only problem that I had (if you can call it a problem), was when I went to leave from CDG.

The French Customs VAT Counter was on the other side of the International Arrivals exit from the airline Check-in counter. There were several International Arrivals at this time, with a mob of people waiting for others coming off of International flights.

Needless to say, I had to work my way through the crowd to get to the Customs VAT counter. At least I had the item that I was claiming (a leather jacket) in my carry-on. I asked if they wanted to see it, but the customs agent said "no", so it stayed in the bag.

After the forms were stamped, I was told to mail the form in before I left France, so I ask where the nearest mail box is. It's on the other side of the mob outside of Internaitonal Arrivals, So back I go, to mail the forms.

Once that is done, where's my departure gate? - on the Customs side of the mob, so a third trip through the mass of humanity...

Had a similar experience in Germany years ago.
You'd almost think that they were trying to dissuade you. ;)

FrankAZ
04-03-2012, 10:01 AM
Geneva Airport straddles the political border between France and Switzerland and thus between the EU and Switzerland. When you pass through the airport between the French side (GGV) and the Swiss side (GVA) you are afforded the opportunity to declare goods and have VAT refund forms signed.

Until late last year there was a clean and recognizable border within the airport with passport control and everything. Now that Switzerland is a Schengen Agreement signatory and free passage is possible I'm not certain where the customs office is now located. It's probably where it was. It's in there somewhere.



Update on the set-up at Geneva airport. I was there last month and forgot until now to update this thread as promised.

As anticipated the passage between the French and Swiss sides is now free and open but you do have to pass through the old customs/immigration pinch-point, now unmanned. No one is interested in looking at you or anything else. However, travelers are guided a different route France-Switzerland compared to Switzerland-France and there are bollards in place France-Switzerland which prevent the free passage of luggage carts. Awkward if you just want to go back and forth. If you are able to it is easier to leave your spouse or travelling companion on one side with the bulk of your baggage while you scuttle backwards and forwards through the border.

As you pass from France to Switzerland through the old channel with the automatic sliding glass doors there is a desk with a bell. If you use the bell eventually a Swiss official will appear and he can summon a French official for VAT refund form stamping purposes.

Frank.

Razzic
06-23-2012, 04:54 AM
This is pretty standard and works as long as you are not a resident of the country.

Most shops have forms for the refund of the MWSt through this service.

The only caveat is that they take a big cut.

On large purchases (such as a watch at Wempe), Ive arranged for the store to refund the MWSt. directly to me. That way I got 100%.

I know this is a huge thread Resurrection but I found it most relevant from what I am TRYING desperately to find out, HOW to go about getting 100% of my VAT back when I'm in Germany (which I currently am) for everything I bought when I leave to go back to Australia.

A LOT of the places I buy from all are not affiliated with global blue etc so I need to know the way not to go through one of those third party's that take part of it and how / what is the process to do it myself (or go straight to the source so to speak) to get 100% of my VAT back.

As I have bought motorcycle gear (helmet for 250 euro's and other items all above the minimum amount) that I want / need to claim back my VAT on.

Please help! (Also I can't speak Germany but my girlfriend / partner does)

Thanks in advance!!!!

Oh PS I also noticed some of the gear was from Holland (like the helmet) that I purchased so I might need information on how to get that through them if its different also (I'm assuming it is due to being a different country) I'm sorry for all this, I did ask my girlfriend / partner but she has NO idea at all :(

FrankAZ
06-23-2012, 09:52 AM
I know this is a huge thread Resurrection but I found it most relevant from what I am TRYING desperately to find out, HOW to go about getting 100% of my VAT back when I'm in Germany (which I currently am) for everything I bought when I leave to go back to Australia.
(

I think you are out of luck. AFAIK there is no way for an individual to reclaim VAT paid to a multitude of retail stores at time of purchase. You could do it once upon a time a long time ago but when the tax authorities realized the expense of maintaining the organization necessary to process those generally small refund claims they outsourced it to the commercial enterprises we see now. Once Global Refund, Tax Free Shopping, and the like popped up and were given the remit to process VAT refunds the various governments shut down the offices which dealt with regular consumers (not businesses).

I have been unable to find any present-day method except:

Using a 3rd party VAT reclaim processor.
Buying directly from the manufacturer and having it shipped to my US address, paying shipping but no VAT.
Buying from a retailer using their flat-rate so-called 'VAT Free' discount method. (Often about 10% discount to non-EU buyers, vs. VAT in the 20% area so not so great for large purchases).
Buying online from a large retailer such as Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, who do not charge VAT to non-EU shipping addresses, and whose shipping is very reasonable.


(2) and (4) may also incur US Customs duties, though in my experience I only get levied duties on 20% of my packages so it is worth the gamble. Also, just to be above-board, you ought to pay use taxes to your state and other local authorities if VAT or sales taxes have not been paid elsewhere. Australia may vary...

I returned from the UK again last week and bought a ton of stainless steel and silver cutlery there. I called the manufacturers and arranged for them to match a retail store's on-sale price (less VAT), not charge VAT, and shipping at cost. With advanced planning and research a trip to Europe can provide great savings. Without advanced planning, not so much.

Frank.

mbushnell
06-23-2012, 08:26 PM
Had a similar experience in Germany years ago.
You'd almost think that they were trying to dissuade you. ;)

Wow - that was a while ago that I wrote what you quoted...

Razzic
06-24-2012, 06:58 AM
I think you are out of luck. AFAIK there is no way for an individual to reclaim VAT paid to a multitude of retail stores at time of purchase. You could do it once upon a time a long time ago but when the tax authorities realized the expense of maintaining the organization necessary to process those generally small refund claims they outsourced it to the commercial enterprises we see now. Once Global Refund, Tax Free Shopping, and the like popped up and were given the remit to process VAT refunds the various governments shut down the offices which dealt with regular consumers (not businesses).

I have been unable to find any present-day method except:

Using a 3rd party VAT reclaim processor.
Buying directly from the manufacturer and having it shipped to my US address, paying shipping but no VAT.
Buying from a retailer using their flat-rate so-called 'VAT Free' discount method. (Often about 10% discount to non-EU buyers, vs. VAT in the 20% area so not so great for large purchases).
Buying online from a large retailer such as Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, who do not charge VAT to non-EU shipping addresses, and whose shipping is very reasonable.


(2) and (4) may also incur US Customs duties, though in my experience I only get levied duties on 20% of my packages so it is worth the gamble. Also, just to be above-board, you ought to pay use taxes to your state and other local authorities if VAT or sales taxes have not been paid elsewhere. Australia may vary...

I returned from the UK again last week and bought a ton of stainless steel and silver cutlery there. I called the manufacturers and arranged for them to match a retail store's on-sale price (less VAT), not charge VAT, and shipping at cost. With advanced planning and research a trip to Europe can provide great savings. Without advanced planning, not so much.

Frank.

Oh ok nice, urg that is bad news for me then, because for obvious reasons local stores are much more expensive than online ones and being a non EU resident or citizen I shouldn't have to pay it (unless I use the goods here of course then yeah its all fair) but Australia you don't get charged any levies or taxes unless the goods are valued at over $1000.

JSpira
06-24-2012, 08:46 AM
I know this is a huge thread Resurrection but I found it most relevant from what I am TRYING desperately to find out, HOW to go about getting 100% of my VAT back when I'm in Germany (which I currently am) for everything I bought when I leave to go back to Australia.

A LOT of the places I buy from all are not affiliated with global blue etc so I need to know the way not to go through one of those third party's that take part of it and how / what is the process to do it myself (or go straight to the source so to speak) to get 100% of my VAT back.

As I have bought motorcycle gear (helmet for 250 euro's and other items all above the minimum amount) that I want / need to claim back my VAT on.

Please help! (Also I can't speak Germany but my girlfriend / partner does)

Thanks in advance!!!!

Oh PS I also noticed some of the gear was from Holland (like the helmet) that I purchased so I might need information on how to get that through them if its different also (I'm assuming it is due to being a different country) I'm sorry for all this, I did ask my girlfriend / partner but she has NO idea at all :(

I've gotten MWSt. back from merchants individually in the past few years. I arranged this at the time of purchase and the merchant had a generic form for the refund to which the receipt was attached.

This was for larger purchases and the merchant was happy to do it (it doesn't really cost them anything, it gets treated as if the merchant were shipping the item out of the country)

So ask the individual merchants at the time of purchase what if anything can be arranged.

Razzic
06-24-2012, 11:28 AM
I've gotten MWSt. back from merchants individually in the past few years. I arranged this at the time of purchase and the merchant had a generic form for the refund to which the receipt was attached.

This was for larger purchases and the merchant was happy to do it (it doesn't really cost them anything, it gets treated as if the merchant were shipping the item out of the country)

So ask the individual merchants at the time of purchase what if anything can be arranged.

Awesome! Ok after I do that if I can get that done?

AzNMpower32
07-02-2013, 07:49 PM
I've gotten MWSt. back from merchants individually in the past few years. I arranged this at the time of purchase and the merchant had a generic form for the refund to which the receipt was attached.

This was for larger purchases and the merchant was happy to do it (it doesn't really cost them anything, it gets treated as if the merchant were shipping the item out of the country)

So ask the individual merchants at the time of purchase what if anything can be arranged.
Good to hear. I was about to pose a similar question regarding a potential purchase where I'd have them ship it to an address in Europe while I take a holiday there.....and then bring the item back with me on the plane. The German merchant does not ship to the US and will not sell the item VAT-exempt. However they have told me they will refund the MwSt to me upon mailing them the export stamp and receipt of US duties paid.....should I assume they can pre-fill out the receipt or export form?

Gluhwein
07-27-2013, 11:42 AM
South Africa has the best and easiest VAT refund process: you have to spend something like $200 total but you just give them the pile of your receipts and they tabulate it as you wait. Then they issue you the refund by check to cash inside the air terminal or give you a VISA credit card worth your refund amount. Like most places you do not get food, drinks, hotels and services refunded but pretty much everything else including a couple of $10 purchases was calculated.