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Many people believe they can spend a great holiday in Europe, buying loads of things and thinking they can claim the VAT then.
I get these questions often, “I forgot to apply
for VAT before I left.  I do still have
all of my receipts.  Is it possible to
still collect VAT?”
My answer is always the same.  There is nothing that will offer you the opportunity  to collect your
Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds after leaving Europe.  In fact the opposite is true.
In order
for those who live outside the EU to collect refunds they must actually show
customs officials the goods, the receipts that apply to them, and a completed
VAT refund document.
Once
satisfied the customs officer will apply an approved stamp to your customs
form(s). To obtain your customs stamp you must present the goods purchased for
inspection at the official customs office at your last point of departure. The
rules underscore that without the customs stamp your VAT refund cannot be
processed.
Literally
millions of dollars of refundable sales taxes are unclaimed.
Yet the tax in
many of the EU countries is up to 25% on goods. Understandably the process is a
cumbersome one, but why leave bundles of dollars on the table that could be
used to help underwrite the cost of the vacation in Europe?
For those
yet to travel to Europe here are some sage words of advice.
Get to the
airport early. With line-ups and during busy periods it could take some time.
Make sure you have all your forms filled properly, and have all your personal
documentation ready to present in an organized manner.
Carry your
passport with you when shopping for proof of your non-residency. The VAT refund
program is a voluntary one so you need to confirm the store where you make your
purchases is subscribed to the program.
Many will
display a Duty Free sign at the entrance of their premises. To qualify for the
refund goods must be above certain values. For more information on the VAT
program and its rules go to
For answers to travel questions you may have email me at pradinukr@shaw.ca and follow my columns on line at www.winnipegfreepress.com