How to buy in Europe and not pay taxes
#Life hacks # Tips
Experienced travelers know that excursions to popular European countries can be combined with pleasant and profitable shopping. This can be done not only during periods of seasonal sales and holiday fairs, but at any time of the year, if you have an idea of the Tax Free system – a way to return the amount of value added tax (VAT) to foreign buyers.
What is Tax Free and how does it work?
In order to understand how the Tax Free system works, let us briefly recall the basics of economics. The cost of any product or service includes certain taxes, the most famous of which is VAT. This tax is levied on most goods in all European countries and is used to provide residents with social benefits. Such benefits do not apply to foreign tourists, and therefore they are allowed to recover the amount of this tax (in part or in full) through special operating companies.
The VAT refund system is supported by most of the major stores around the world, and it operates in almost all European countries. The amount of the refundable amount depends on the VAT rate (in different countries it ranges from 8 to 25%), the operator’s commission and the purchase amount. Tax-free does not apply to most food and drinks, books and all types of services.
Refund Policy, Minimum Purchase Amount and Other Tax Free Features
The benefits of using Tax Free are most noticeable when making large purchases – the difference in the cost of modern technology and gadgets in Russia and abroad can reach several thousand rubles. Small savings, of course, are also pleasant, but there are restrictions on the minimum amount of tax refund. The lowest limitation threshold is in Germany (25 EURO), the highest in Italy (155 EURO) and France (175 EURO).
To avoid annoying misunderstandings when using the system, several basic rules should be observed:
– Make purchases in shops operating with a tax-free system (a special logo should be placed on the window at the entrance).
– Be sure to take a passport for shopping – it will confirm the status of a foreigner.
– Check the amount of the check – it must be greater than the minimum threshold. In some hypermarkets, it is allowed to summarize receipts from different departments (be sure to check before buying).
– Before passing through customs, do not break the packaging, do not remove the tags and do not use the purchase.
– Make sure that the check is canceled and the tax-free application is signed by the seller.
You can get information about which shops refund taxes under the Tax Free system in advance using the mobile Internet. FROM SIM card Goodline, it will be especially easy – it allows you to use the Internet from 30 kopecks / MB in most European countries. A pleasant addition will be free calls to Russia on Viber family and friends. There is no subscription fee for using the card.
Procedure for tax refund
The VAT refund procedure abroad includes three stages.
Tax free registration in the store
After making a purchase, in addition to the usual check, the store cashier must issue you a special request for tax-free registration. As a rule, store employees fill it out themselves, but you may have to fill in the data yourself. The application must indicate the amount of tax refunded to the buyer and the total purchase figure, which coincides with the total on the receipt. The application must be signed by the store representative.
Remember! To get the tax refund, you must have two documents in your hands: a check from the store and a signed application.
Obtaining a customs stamp
When going through customs when returning home, present the goods, documents for it and your passport to the officers conducting the inspection. Let us know that you want to receive a tax refund stamp. If everything is fine with checks and purchases, the border guards will put a seal on the application. Only with this seal will the operator accept return documents.
Important! If the item is large and needs to be checked in baggage, then the mark must be obtained before this procedure. In some countries, customs are located after the baggage check-in counter – in this case, an officer should be invited to the place before packing and sending the baggage.
Tax refund by operator
The last stage, as a rule, takes the most time, since there are always enough people who want to return part of the money spent. In the free zone (after customs), there are operators’ offices, which return the money. The procedure for issuing and receiving money takes 10-15 minutes, but waiting for your turn can take several hours. Therefore, arrive at the border early so as not to miss your plane / bus / train.
Money is returned in two ways: in cash and on a card. You will receive “real” money in your hands if you paid for purchases in cash, and the transfer to the card will reimburse the expenses made from it. Unfortunately, the transfer takes a long time (about 60 days), and not all debit cards of Russian banks accept such transfers.
If there is no time to stand in line to the operator, then you can use the following methods:
– Send return documents and your details by mail (an envelope with an address must be issued at the store). In this case, money should be expected no earlier than 5 weeks later.
– Contact the branch of the bank working with the Tax Free operator in Russia. You can find out the name of the bank from the operator by e-mail.
And further. The amount of the refunded tax will be 5-15% less than the paid one – this is how much the operators take for their services.
At the first encounter with the Tax Free system, many are frightened by its imaginary complexity and multi-stage registration. Do not be afraid – go through the procedure once, and you will understand that there is nothing complicated in it. Follow our recommendations exactly and appreciate all the benefits of shopping abroad without paying one of the most significant taxes!
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