Help with Value Added Tax in Europe
In planning your Christian Tour to Europe, you may have heard or read about a “value-added tax” (VAT) that most European Union countries add to the retail price of merchandise. To help you save money during your travels, we’ve provided important information about this sales tax.
Tax Rate The VAT rate varies from country to country, the average hovering around 16-25% of the total price of the item. The tax is usually included in the price rather than added on later at checkout. The specific rate depends on the product category. In some countries, the rate is higher for luxury items such as jewelry and lower for basic items such as food or alcohol.
VAT Refund In many cases, travelers who live outside the European Union can apply for a VAT refund on items they purchased on their travels. For tourists, the refund doesn’t apply to services such as hotel rooms or meals in restaurants. Remember to always ask the store if they participate in the VAT Refund Program.
Qualifying for a VAT Refund You usually need to spend a minimum of $100 or the equivalent in local currency in a single transaction. You’ll want to check the specific country’s minimum purchase requirements. Look for the “Tax Free Shopping” logo most retailers participating in the VAT refund place on their doors for easy identification.
Getting Your Refund While the process varies from country to country, usually you need to complete a form at the shop and present your passport. Before your final departure from the European Union, you must submit all forms and receipts to Airport Customs for approval. Keep in mind that Customs agents may ask to see the items, so have them handy in your carry-on luggage. To be eligible for the refund, the items must be new and unused.
- Sometimes a store will refund the tax to you at checkout, however you still need to collect and present all of your paperwork to Customs when departing the country.
- The same applies if you ship your purchases home. In some instances, you’ll get a refund before departure at the Cash VAT Refund desk at Customs in the airport. Otherwise, it will be mailed.
- You can also choose to have the retailer credit your VAT refund back to your credit card by mailing the documents stamped by Customs back to the store where you purchased the merchandise.
- When you travel to European countries outside the European Union (Switzerland, Norway, Croatia, Turkey), you’ll need to go through the same process at Customs as you depart from each country. As you travel through Europe with us we will guide you through the process in each country.
For more information please call one of our Reservation Coordinators at 800 247 1899, Monday through Friday between 8:30am-5:00pm, Pacific Time.