Almost every person living in countries that are not part of the EU know a thing or two about the EU VAT Directives, however they may not be completely aware of the VAT refunds they have the possibility of benefiting from. If you are from USA for example, and are planning to visit Europe, then learning some basic information about EU or German VAT formats
and the refunds you might be entitled to, may come in handy, giving you the chance to save a couple of bucks. Here are the most important things to know in terms of VAT refunds:
Services are not included
Yes, obtaining a refund is possible, when you are buying goods from Germany for example, but when it comes to services, it is a whole other story. When buying a product, you will be exporting it to your own country, which means you have the chance to get a part of the price back. When resorting to services, such as booking a hotel room, you are benefiting from the service locally, and will not be able to have any charge discounts. This is why you should inform yourself properly when a VAT refund is accessible and when it is not.
Minimum qualifying amounts
Another important thing you should know is that not all of your purchases will make you entitled to a refund. There is a minimum amount you have to meet, in order to receive some money back. For example in Germany it is somewhere around 300 dollars, while in Ireland is close to zero, so you will not be able to obtain a financial advantage if you purchase a hair conditioner or a nail polish for example. You should research this particular detail, and find out the qualifying amount for the country you will be visiting.
The stores from which you make purchases matter
Although theoretically it should not matter from which store you buy from, as long as you reach the qualifying amount, some stores simplify things for you by handling VAT-refund paperwork. These are usually large department stores, and they carry a tax free sign somewhere. Do not expect local shops that sell handmade items, or street vendors to offer you these services. Also make sure to carry with you your identity card, in order to prove to merchants that you are a foreigner and thus to receive the necessary paperwork (remember that you will need to fill in the form before leaving the store).
When it comes to VAT refunds, it is important to be properly informed, and to know all the situations where this is a possibility. This means keeping up with the economical laws of the country you are visiting, and always researching local VAT formats. There are many online platforms that can provide you with the accurate and detailed information you might require on the topic, so whenever you have a misunderstanding, or you want to learn about any changes that might have occurs in terms of VAT formats, do some online research.