Every day, a lot of customers from extra-EU countries enter in our Gazzarrini stores looking for their next bag or suitcase. Surprisingly, many of them have never heard of the VAT refund, which allows them to save a considerable amount of money out of their purchases while on vacation.
Basically, when you shop abroad, you can claim part of the price of the items you bought back. Procedures change from country to country, but they are generally easy but long, and make buying designer goods very convenient.
Let’s start from the basics.
What is VAT
The Value Added Tax is a tax included in the price of the majority of consumer goods on the market. In the EU countries, it is ranged between 2,1% and 27%, for example, here in Italy it is 22%.
All EU citizens pay the VAT every time they buy something, but visitors from non-EU countries are eligible for a refund.
However, some conditions apply.
How to get a refund
First of all, you can only get a refund on purchases made in stores that offer VAT refund facilities like Gazzarrini, so do not forget to ask this question to the shopkeeper. Moreover, usually a threshold applies (in Italy it is at least 155 euros, but some stores may increase it) in order to be eligible for a refund, so you have to keep that into account as well. When you make your purchases, the in-store team will ask you to fill out a form and provide proof that you live outside the EU, usually the address on your passport or any other valid proof of ID is sufficient, but some shops may also ask you to show your return ticket. The shop assistant will fill out their side of the form and give it back to you together with an invoice or receipt.
At this point, you might have the chance to get a refund or part of it immediately, but the stores are allowed to charge an admin fee. Otherwise, you have to show the receipt, the form, and a proof of ID to the customs officers at the airport, who will approve your form with a stamp, turning it into a proof of export.
If you are leaving Europe from a big airport, you can usually bring your proof of export to the dedicated office, but in other cases you will have to send it to the address you were given in the shop.
Also remember that not all items qualify and you cannot get a refund on goods you used before leaving the EU.
Who is eligible?
As we said above, all EU visitors are eligible. Let’s clarify now what EU visitor means with some of the most frequent cases of people travelling to EU countries:
- If you are from a non-EU country, but you permanently live in an EU country, you are not an EU visitor;
- If you are from a non-EU country and you do live in a non-EU country, you are an EU visitor;
- If you are from an EU country and you live in an EU country, even if it is not your place of birth, you are not an EU visitor;
- If you are from an EU country and you live in a non-EU country, you are an EU visitor.
Always remember you may have to prove your intention to leave the EU within three months from the date you buy the goods.
Ready to save on designer goods?
The vast majority of high-end fashion retailers in touristic areas offer VAT refund facilities, and we do not make an exception.
If you follow the instructions and you are very patient with the procedures, you might end up saving a considerable amount of money.