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VAT Refunds

I see the VAT is now up to 24%. Wow! I know I can't get a refund for the VAT at restaurants, hotels, etc... but I can for purchases I bring home if they are over 120 euros. Is that cumulative, or is it just for single purchases over 120 euros? If the former, do I get a refund by keeping all my receipts and showing them to an official at the airport while leaving the country? Or, something else?

Thank you,

Posted by
11158 posts

Here's Rick's starter explanation of the VAT refund process:

Remember that VAT is not added on at the register, like sales taxes in the US. It's built into the price. So, if the tag on an item shows the price as €50, that's what you pay, and the VAT is included in that. So, for most items the percentage is irrelevant; you just pay the total price. Of course, if you're buying enough to be able to get a VAT refund, it may be worth it to you to go to the trouble required.

Posted by
1764 posts

And remember it's only certain shops that participate in the paperwork you need to claim back the VAT.

Posted by
2881 posts

And also remember that you likely will need to show the purchases themselves. The purpose of that requirement is to demonstrate that they haven't been used. Sometimes the agents skip that, but don't count on it.

Posted by
8889 posts

The minimum amount, and the VAT %, vary from country to country, and the % varies for different types of goods. It is not always 24% and €120. But the limit (whatever is is) is a total, not per item or per purchase.
The shop you buy it from must be willing to do the paperwork, they might not want to for a small purchase or if they rarely have non-EU tourists as customers.
The goods have to be exported intact and unused (hence not valid for restaurants and hotels, you have already consumed the meal / slept in the bed).
And, if the purchase was in the EU, you make the claim when you exit the EU (not the country), whether it be at an airport, seaport or land border.

Posted by
4507 posts

Often the best way to avoid the VAT is to have the shop ship your item(s) directly. You pay for the shipping, but that can be about a wash. And it's good for items that are valuable, fragile and/or heavy.

For "normal" purchases of gifty items, the VAT refund is more hassle than it is worth typically. And you have to prove you haven't used an item (no wearing the expensive jacket you bought).