Recover VAT on departure?
Replies: 20 - Last Post: Jun 10, 2013 10:17 PM Last Post By: joolz2
Aug 21, 2012 6:32 AM
Recover VAT on departure?My wife and I are visiting Spain and we were told we can recover the VAT on items we buy in Spain if we present them along with paperwork at the airport on our way back to the US. How does that work?
Aug 21, 2012 6:48 AM
Aug 21, 2012 9:06 AM
2The following info is a quote from http://www.aena.es (Operator of all Spanish airports) about VAT refunds at Madrid Barajas airport:
VAT refund / Bills stamping service to ask for VAT refund. Outside office hours, the refund will be made in Hall 1 (T1) or Hall 11 (T4).
All foreigners or Spanish citizens not residing in Spain or in a European Union country who are travelling to a third country are entitled to a Value Added Tax (VAT) refund on their purchases in Spain. To request this refund, the purchase value for each establishment must be over €90.15.
There are two possible refund systems:
1. The passenger submits the receipt issued by the shop and stamped by customs in the establishment where the purchase was made. In this case, before checking in your luggage, you must have the purchase receipts stamped at one of Madrid-Barajas airport's duty reduction offices (T1, first floor, next to the 200 check-in desks or T4, second floor, next to the security control or T4S, next to the Aena information desk). The merchandise must be shown (if it is transported as hand luggage, do so at the passenger-only zone window). Once stamped, place each receipt in an envelope and send it to the point of sale. The shop will be responsible for sending you the corresponding amount of money.
2. The refund can be made through collaborating entities, authorised by the National Tax Agency, for a fixed commission. In this case, at the time of purchase, you must ask the vendor for a "tax free" invoice. This invoice will specify your details and the VAT amount corresponding to your purchases.
There are different companies dealing in VAT refunds and each one has its own invoices. The following companies work at the airport: Global Blue (offices in T1 and T4, Global Blue and El Corte Inglés invoices), American Express (T1, Innova Taxfree, Premier Tax Free and Detaxe invoices), Global Exchange (office in T1, Innova Taxfree and La Caixa invoices) and Airport Exchange (office in T1, Innova Taxfree, Premier Tax Free and Italian Refund invoices). If you wish to get your VAT refund from one of these offices, you should ask the shop for a "Premier Tax Free", "Global Blue Tax Free", "Detaxe Tax Free", "El Corte Inglés Tax Free", "Innova Tax Free", "La Caixa Tax Free" or "Italian Refund Tax Free" invoice.
Before checking in your luggage, you must present the goods purchased and the "tax free" invoices for these to be stamped at the airport's duty reduction office (T1, first floor, next to the 200 check-in desks or T4, second floor, next to the security control or T4S, next to the airport information desk). Then you can go to these companies' offices at the airport and collect the corresponding amounts.
If you search http://www.aena.es for "VAT refund" you can get similar info customized to other airports as well.
Note that since this is from the Madrid airport website, it list only shops present at this particular airport. Naturally you can collect receipts from 'normal' shops in the city as well, as long as the amount is over € 90.15. Since it is the shop that has to refund you the VAT, always inquire before you make the purchase how (and if) they do VAT refunds. Smaller shops may not do VAT refunds.
Aug 21, 2012 10:48 AM
Aug 21, 2012 11:01 AM
4I did it once or twice at Toronto airport in Canada when I had a large purchase, but they made getting your sales tax back stricter, on higher amounts only. And it took about 3 months before they sent a cheque in $Cdn which wasn't so useful. But I think they have abolished it completely now.
Only useful if you have an expensive purchase and a lot of time to waste.
Aug 21, 2012 7:02 PM
5Hmmm, any tips for getting to the line when it's the shortest? Does anyone know how long it takes to get through the line?
Can I get a VAT refund for an item I had shipped from the UK to Spain which was purchased in British Pounds?
Aug 21, 2012 9:30 PM
6I tried to get a VAT refund also when I was in Spain in 2011. The VAT refund place (duty reduction office) at the El Prat, Barcelona airport was hard to find, with long inefficient queues, and the unfriendly officers did not speak any English. We ended up posting the VAT refudn request at the airport at the designated post box but have NEVER had any refunds credited to our credit card account.
This is a very different experience we had when we travelled western Europe in 2008. We did get a refund to our CC about 3 months after posting in the refund request. It was at Heathrow airport (for purchases from various countries).
I would not bother again as it was time wasted.
Aug 21, 2012 9:32 PM
Aug 22, 2012 2:09 AM
8Can I get a VAT refund for an item I had shipped from the UK to Spain which was purchased in British Pounds?
Why would Spain reimburse an item bought in Britain? The point of the refund is to reimburse local taxes that visitors shouldn't be paying. In this case, the taxes were paid to the UK and not Spain.
Aug 22, 2012 3:02 AM
Aug 22, 2012 11:54 PM
10"The point of the refund is to reimburse local taxes that visitors shouldn't be paying. In this case, the taxes were paid to the UK and not Spain."
Can I recover the VAT from the UK?
"VAT refunds are for non-EU visitors only otherwise I'd have recovered small fortune off Amazon UK by now."
I'm a non-EU visitor.
Aug 23, 2012 12:10 AM
Aug 23, 2012 12:43 AM
12What if I've never been to the UK? :) It sounds like there's no way to recover it in a situation like mine where I'm in Spain on vacation, I ordered something from the UK with delivery to me here in Spain, and I'm leaving the EU?
Aug 23, 2012 2:25 AM
14"If leaving the EU via another EU country the goods and VAT form may have to be presented to a customs official in that country rather than the UK. The form must then be posted back to the shop or to the refund company, or taken to the refund booth at the airport according to the refund method being used."
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