Did you know that you can get back your money during shopping in European Union? Every year, travellers leave millions behind in unclaimed refunds, either because they are unaware of it or simply because they find it too difficult to deal with. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

What is VAT Refund?

VAT stands for “Value Added Tax” and it’s basically a tax on consumption. Unlike sales tax in the United States, which is added on top of the amount you see on the price tag, VAT is already included in the price of goods. In Europe, this amount usually ranges anywhere from 15 to 25%, but it varies by country. If you’re a traveller who’s shopping abroad, you can usually get back the money if you prove that you’re taking your new goods out of the country.

The details on how to get a refund vary per country, but generally you’ll need to follow these basic steps:

  1. Bring your passport. You’ll likely be asked to present your passport when you make the purchase, in order to start the refund process. 
  2. Shop at stores that know the ropes. Retailers choose whether to participate in the VAT-refund scheme. Most tourist-oriented stores do; often you’ll see a sign in the window or by the cashier (if not, ask). For any significant purchase, even at a boutique shop, it’s always worth asking about a VAT refund. It’d be a shame to spend big bucks at a place and not have a chance of getting a refund.
  3. Get the documents. When you make your purchase, have the merchant fill out the necessary refund document. Check the paperwork to be sure nothing important is missing, then attach your receipt to the form and stash it in a safe place.
  4. Get your money back. This can either be done right at the airport at certain refund offices or by mailing in forms once you’re home. The system will depend on which retailer you bought from works with.

But, if you’re lucky, some stores can handle the nitty gritty with documents and reimbursements to reimburse right on the spot.

What is the standard VAT rate in European Union?

Below are some of the European Union VAT rates in 2019:

France – VAT is 20%* and you must spend €175.01 on the same day in the same store (must spend at least €154.94 in Milan)

Germany – VAT is 19%* and you must spend €25

Greece – VAT is 24%* and you must spend €50

Italy – VAT is 22%* and you must spend €155

Netherlands – VAT is 21% and you must spend €50

Portugal – VAT is 23%* and you must spend €61.35

Spain – VAT is 21%* and you must spend €90.16

United Kingdom – VAT is 20%* and you must spend £30

* EU VAT standard rates are set by member countries and can fluctuate. Your refund might be less than the rate listed above, especially if it’s subject to processing fees.

So, you can refer to this online refund calculator, which help you to calculate how much money you can get back after shopping in Europe countries.

Before heading to your next trip, you can sign up as GRABEAN traveller to earn extra money. What you need to do is just post trip, offer to help and bought it from your destination, delivered and last get your payment (you can refer to the previous post).


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