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Tax refund for purchases?

I was in Barcelona Spain and Nice France this summer and filed out the paper work to get a tax refund for purchases. I did this at the airport before flying home. Took an unbelievably long time! Hours!
Has anyone actually received a refund?
It has been several months now but nothing as come.
Thank you!

Posted by
21330 posts

I never had and have given up on the process. Now if we buy something that has a significant tax, we use the tax saving to have the vendor ship it home. Others have had successful but we have not -- but the amount was small.

Posted by
26379 posts

MAB, it shouldn't have taken hours - just a few minutes.

Did you get the forms stamped by the Customs officer? Were the forms from the retailer along with them?

Posted by
18 posts

There is paper work to fill out which must be brought to a window at the airport. In Barcelona the lines were very very long. It took forever.
And then we had to go to yet another window after going through the customs check point which was another long line.
Nice, France was much quicker than Barcelona.

Posted by
2804 posts

I have done the VAT refund process for dozens of purchases over the years and, I have not received my refund only 3 times. I just did several refunds when departing from France in mid-August. I took some of my refunds in cash and the rest started appearing as credits on my credit card statement earlier this month. I am still waiting for one (of course, it's the largest one).

Posted by
2520 posts

hwat were you trying to claim for, you only get avat refund for unused items you are taking out of the EU.

Posted by
92 posts

The only time we received refunds without any delays or issues have been leaving from Stockholm. Paperwork was minimal and received refunds within 2 weeks of returning home. Every other time we have tried to get refunds there has been some problem or another at the departing airport. Either the office wasn't staffed, the paperwork wasn't correct or some other issue. The last 3 times we have departed from Stockholm everything was straight forward and got refunds quickly.

Posted by
3176 posts

There is paper work to fill out which must be brought to a window at
the airport. In Barcelona the lines were very very long. It took
forever.....Nice, France was much quicker than Barcelona.

I'm confused. Travelers who want a VAT refund get the documents stamped at the last EU airport before the flight home. If Nice were your last airport, why did you waste time on lines at the customs desk in Barcelona?

Perhaps multiple stamps from 2 countries caused a problem. If it's been 'several' months, you're probably not going to be refunded the exorbitant tax rate you paid.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you everyone for your feed back.

We took 2 separate trips. So we flew out of Europe on 2 separate trips.

The purchases were clothing and other items which are allowed to have the tax returned for non-EU residents.

We filed everything exactly according to procedure as instructed.
The refund should be returned to my credit card.

I guess it may just be a slow process.

I posted here because I thought there were plenty of people who have done this and may have insights as to if they actually received their refund.

Thanks again.

Posted by
3176 posts

Exorbitant?

Of course. 20-27% sales tax is obnoxiously punitive. The EU knows that which is why they make VAT refunds possible to non EU citizens.

Taxation allows us to live in a civilised country.

That's a quite mindset to believe that high tax rates produce civility; that belief should be an inducement to travel to see how civilized so many parts of the world are! When you travel to Japan, for example, please don't tell the people you meet that their country is uncivilized because their VAT is among the lowest in the world. Hong Kong has no VAT; try not to tell them how uncivilized their country is either. :-)

Posted by
8889 posts

Exorbitant? Of course. 20-27% sales tax is obnoxiously punitive. Nations know that which is why they make VAT refunds possible.

What a load of expletives. Virtually no nation charges taxes on exports. That would put your countries exports at a disadvantage against other countries. Instead you charge taxes on imports, and argue about these in trade talks.
Tax policies exist for the benefit of voting citizens, not foreign tourists.
Foreign tourists are benefiting from the rule that exports are not taxed, and any previously paid taxes are refunded. No more, no less.

Posted by
6766 posts

Nations know that which is why they make VAT refunds possible.

You only get a refund because the VAT is a consumption tax, not for goods that are exported (which apply to items purchased by tourists and brought back to the US).

Posted by
3176 posts

You only get a refund because the VAT is a consumption tax, not for
goods that are exported (which apply to items purchased by tourists
and brought back to the US).

It's more than that. If you use the product you've purchased, you're not getting a VAT refund. For example, don't wear the jewelry you bought at customs hoping for them to stamp the form. Have it in the packaging in which it came. You bring up a good point. No VAT refunds are coming for purchases you have used while on your trip.