Shop tax-free in the EU


What is vatfree.com?

We help you get a VAT refund over all your shopping in the European Union (even if you shop online). If you live outside the EU, you are eligible for a refund of your Value Added Tax. We are here to help you claim your right. We think it is a shame millions of Euro's are left unclaimed each year. Money which could be reinvested in yourself, in others or in the world.


How does it work?

Getting a refund is easy, hassle-free and worth doing. Claim back the VAT in just 3 steps:

1. Check your purchase receipt

A purchase receipt should meet a couple of basic requirements. The next should be stated clearly: the VAT amount, the NAC-details of the shop and your NCP-details. Make sure to request a correct receipt from the shop if these requirements are not met. Check requirements for purchase receipts

Note that some shops might give you a vatfree.com leaflet or tax-free cheque, together with the purchase receipt, so all receipt requirements are met.

 

2. Collect a Customs stamp

Before leaving the EU, Customs will need to check if you are taking the purchases with you. Show Customs your purchase receipts and purchases. After the check, Customs will validate your purchase receipts with a Customs stamp. At most EU-airports, you will find Customs before check-in so you do not have to carry the goods in your handluggage. Check Customs stamp

Click here for a map of Customs at Schiphol Airport

 

3. Cash at vatfree.com

Register your purchase receipts and mail them to our address: vatfree.com, p.o.box 75605, 1118 ZR Schiphol, The Netherlands.

Don't feel like registering online or no time to do so? At Schiphol Airport you can stop by our servicedesk, or even drop off the stamped purchase receipts in our mailbox (next to Customs). We'll register for you. Leaving from a different EU-airport or by car/boat/train? Send all stamped receipts to our address together with your contact details.

Click here for a map of our service desk at Schiphol Airport

After registration we will perform a double check, collect the VAT from the shops and arrange your refund payment. It takes about 40 business days to collect the VAT.


At which shops?

You are eligible for a VAT refund over all your purchases. However, to get a VAT refund a shop must cooperate with offsetting the VAT. It is merely a small administrative handling, but some shops are just not willing to help out. A shop is not legally bound to participate, eventhough you are in your right. Better be safe than sorry and only shop at shops listed in our tax-free shopping guide. Check our tax-free shopping guide

 

Frequently asked questions

 

About VAT About vatfree.com
Are you eligible for a VAT refund? vatfree.com service fee
Which countries are part of the European Union? Our service desk at Schiphol
Also for international expats When to expect your refund
Also for international students How to calculate your refund
Also for diplomats Refund payments
Also for military staff  
When travelling by car, train or cruise ship What we need from you
Requirements purchase receipt Sending by mail
Stamped purchase receipts Data security
NCP-details Tax-free at all shops?
Also for online purchases, at webshops Customs at Schiphol
Warranty on purchases VAT and import duties
Proof of non-EU residency Minimum purchase amount per country
Customs stamp Stop-over before leaving the EU

 

 

About VAT

VAT is the international term for ‘Value added Tax’. In the Netherlands it is called 'Belasting Toegevoegde Waarde' (BTW). A general, broadly based consumption tax charged on all sold goods and included in the stated price.

The percentages of VAT differ from country to country. In Holland the rate for most luxury goods is 21%. Each traveler who purchases goods meant for personal use, to take with him/her to a non-EU country, is eligible to shop tax-free.
How does it work?


Are you eligible for a VAT refund?

You are if you meet the NEMS-requirements:
N - you are a non-EU resident and purchase goods in the EU for personal use.
E - you export the goods to your home country within three months after the time of purchase.
M - you spend a minimum amount per shop, per day. Check minimum purchase amount per EU-country
S - you have collected a Customs stamp either at EU-Customs or at Customs upon arrival in your home country, as proof that you have exported the goods.

Please note!
Your purchase receipt must state the following information:
NAC* details of the shop (seller)
NCP** details of yourself (buyer)
Description of goods
Purchase price
Total amount VAT

*NAC = name, address and country of residence
**NCP = name, non-EU country of residence and passport number


Which countries are part of the European Union?

Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom & Isle of Man, Romania and Bulgaria.

About vatfree.com

“vatfree” literally means to be free of VAT. vatfree.com helps international travelers to easily claim back the VAT over all their purchases in the European Union. How does it work?


Also for international expats

If you are an international expat and staying in the EU for six months or less, you are also eligible for a VAT refund.

If you are staying in the EU for a period of six months or longer, and you are planning to leave the European Union soon again, make sure to deregister from city hall. You will then receive a confirmation of your deregistration (you will need this once you visit EU-Customs for a Customs stamp). How does it work?

You can only reclaim your VAT over purchases made in the last three months before leaving the EU.


Also for international students

If you are an international student and staying in the EU for six months or less, you are also eligible for a VAT refund.

If you are staying in the EU for a period of six months or more, and you are planning to leave the European Union anytime soon, make sure to deregister from city hall. You will then receive a confirmation of your deregistration which you will need once you visit EU-Customs for a Customs stamp. How does it work?

You can only reclaim your VAT over purchases made in the last three months before leaving the EU.


Also for diplomats

If you are a diplomat, you can request a ‘libre permis’ from your employer. This is a document stating you are eligible to purchase tax-free. Diplomats residing in the EU can also be eligible for tax-free purchases via a libre permis. The libre permis must be presented at Customs together with your passport to receive a Customs stamp on the purchase receipt. How does it work?


Also for military staff

If you work for a military base, you are eligible for a reimbursement if you have a blue/white ID-card and spend a minimum of €45 per item on goods. Shops in the Netherlands need to have a license to sell goods tax-free to military staff. In Belgium, no license is necessary. The shop will provide you with a special white form which needs to be signed by the shop and your employer. Send the signed white form to us for processing. Our address is: vatfree.com, p.o.box 75605, 1118 ZR at Schiphol.

When travelling by car, train or cruise ship

Your purchase receipts must be stamped by EU-Customs before leaving the EU or upon arrival in your home country. EU-Customs are always available, even at the border when travelling by car, train or cruise ship. On most cruise ships EU-Customs will even come on board.

Please note!
At the border of Germany and Switzerland, EU-Customs is known to only stamp purchase receipts that clearly show your name, country of residence and passport number. You can also download a special export form to add to your receipt on the website www.zoll.de


Requirements for purchase receipts

Your purchase receipt must meet a couple of standard requirements to get a VAT refund. Be aware that not all shops will offer you a proper receipt. Therefore, be sure to check your receipt before leaving the shop.

Your purchase receipt must state the following information:
NAC* details of the shop (seller)
NCP** details of yourself (buyer)
Description of goods
Purchase price
Total amount VAT

*NAC = name, address and country of residence
**NCP = name, non-EU country of residence and passport number


Minimum purchase amount per country

One of the requirements to be eligible for a VAT refund, is that you spend a minimum amount per shop (total purchase amount including VAT). This differs in each EU-country. Here is a list of EU-countries with the minimum purchase amount threshold:

 

Country VAT rate in % Threshold in local currency
Belgium 21 € 125.01
Bulgaria 20 NA
Cyprus 17 50 CYP
Denmark 25 300 DDK
Germany 19 € 25
United Kingdom 20 30 pounds
Estonia 20 € 38
Finland 24 € 40
France 20 € 175.01
Greece 23 € 120
Hungary 27 50000 HUF
Ireland 23 (2) 0 (none)
Italy 22 € 154.94
Latvia 22 30.26 LVL
Lithuania 21 200 LTL
Luxembourg 15 € 74
Malta 18 NA
The Netherlands 21 € 50
Austria 20 € 75.01
Poland 23 200 PLN
Portugal 23 € 60
Roemania 24 250 RON
Slovakia 20 € 175
Slovenia 20 € 50
Spain 21 € 90.15
Czech Republic 21 NA
Sweden 25 200 SEK
Croatie 25 500 Kuna


(2) The VAT in Ireland will rise to 23% in 2014.


Name, non-EU country and passport number (NCP-details)

The NCP-details of the person claiming the VAT must be mentioned on the purchase receipt. EU-Customs will only stamp the receipt if these details match the person standing in front of him. 

If these details are missing, or a different name is mentioned on the receipt, EU-Customs will probably not validate the receipt with a stamp. Make sure your details are set on the receipt before visiting Customs.

Many shops will offer you a standard cash register receipt without mentioning your NCP-details. Make sure the shop puts the name, country of residence and passport number on the receipt (it may be handwritten on the cash register receipt). More and more shops will offer you a vatfree.com leaflet or tax-free cheque together with the cash register receipt. Your details can then be filled out in the available spaces in block letters.


Also for online purchases, at webshops

If you have purchases online at a webshop in the EU, you can also claim back the VAT. Most webshops will request you to fill in an address for your invoice and a delivery address. The address for your invoice must contain your NCP-details (name, non-EU country of residence and passport number). Your delivery address can be a local EU-address.

Your webshops' invoice is the purchase receipt you will need to show EU-Customs for a stamp. How does it work?


Warranty on purchases

To process the VAT refund, we will need the original stamped purchase receipts. Many shops will print a different warranty receipt so it is not part of the purchase receipt. If this is not the case, be sure to make a copy of your purchase receipt for warranty matters or have a copy of the receipt stamped at EU-Customs so you can keep the original (Customs will only stamp a copy if you can show them the original at the same time).

We offer a free warranty service for our VIP members.


Tax-free at all shops?

The VAT refund is arranged via the shop. The shop receives the VAT in the first place and can choose not to transfer the VAT to the governments' tax administration, but to give it back to their customers eligible for VAT refund. It is not possible to get a refund directly from the governments' tax administration. The VAT refund regulation is part of the EU-directive but not all shops are well informed or are willing to cooperate.

We will help you reclaim the VAT over all your purchases in the EU. We do not only represent your interests but we also arrange the administration and help shops easily offset the VAT. As we handle most administrative tasks, a shop merely has to offset the VAT in their books. Most shops are therefore willing to cooperate.

Do you want to know which shops easily cooperate in tax-free shopping? Check our tax-free shopping guide. Is your favorite shop not included? Make a suggestion and we will contact the shop beforehand to find out if they are willing to cooperate.


Customs at Schiphol

There are two Customs offices at Schiphol airport. One office is located before passport control, in departure hall 3 (landside). The other office is located behind passport control, at departures 3 (airside). The offices are open from 06:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

If the Customs office is closed or busy, call +31 88 - 15 83 900. You can also get a Customs stamp in your home country upon arrival.

Click here for a map of Customs at Schiphol Airport

Please note!
EU-Customs will only stamp your receipts if you can show them your purchases. In general, it is best to visit Customs before check-in and dropping off your baggage. If your purchases are expensive (like jewelry, laptops), EU-Customs will require you to carry the goods in your handluggage and visit their office after passport check on airside.


VAT and import duties

Upon arrival in your country of destination, you will be required to declare your goods and pay import duties. Declaring goods is a responsability each traveler has, if they have claimed their VAT at the country of purchase or not. Once you leave the EU, it is up to Customs in your home country to check if travelers declare their goods.

Not all purchases have to be declared. Each country has a set threshold up to which you can import goods without paying import fees. This amount varies per country.
The thresholds of most countries can be found on this website: Import duties

In the Netherlands you are allowed to import new goods up to € 430 per persoon, duty free. This means that if the total value of goods exceed € 430, Import duties will be charged by Customs upon arrival (and after you declare the goods). Import duties differ per country.


Proof of non-EU residency

EU-Customs will consider you a non-EU resident if you have proof you live in a country outside the EU for at least six months per year. This is automatically proven if you are not registered in the EU as a resident. Customs can check if you are registered in the EU through a database. A legal document stating your residency in a non-EU country is also enough proof (like a visa or work permit).

If you are planning to emigrate to a non-EU country, make sure to deregister at city hall. You will then receive a document confirming your deregistration which you can show EU-Customs when getting a Customs stamp on your receipts. You can only reclaim the VAT on purchases made up to three months prior to your departure.


Customs stamp

Visit EU-Customs within three months after your purchase to get a Customs stamp. Be aware that Customs will only stamp your receipts the day of your departure, and in the last EU-country you visit before leaving the EU.

To get a Customs stamp on your purchase receipts, show them your purchases, passport and airplane ticket. After a Customs officer has checked your documents (he/she may require to see the goods), the officer will stamp and validate your purchase receipts for a VAT refund. Check Customs at Schiphol

Please note!
EU-Customs will need proof that you are living in a non-EU country. If you have an EU-passport, you will need to show a visa, work permit or other legal document stating your non-EU residency. EU-Customs may check if you are registered in the EU through their own database.

Stop-over before leaving the EU

You can only have your receipts stamped by Customs in the country you visit right before leaving the European Union. If your stop-over is shorter than 2 hours, visit EU-Customs at the airport of your first check-in. Inform Customs of your short stop-over time to get a stamp on your receipts. You can also get a Customs stamp in your home country upon arrival.


vatfree.com service fee

For our services, we charge a graduated percentage of the total net amount purchased with a minimum of €5. In the Netherlands our service fee is a maximum of 6/21 of the VAT. Our service fee decreases the more you spend and is either paid upfront or deducted from the total reclaimable VAT amount.

Service fee in percentages over the total net purchase amount:

€50 - €1000 is 6%
€1001 - €2000 is 5%
€2001 - €3000 is 4%
€3001 - €4000 is 3%

€4001 - €5000 is 2%
>€5000 is 1%*

If you have not registered the receipts online before sending them in, but instead have dropped off the receipts at our service desk or dropbox, we will do the online registration for you. For this extra service, we will charge 1% extra service fee calculated over the total net purchase amount. Calculate your refund

Our service desk at Schiphol

We have a special service desk at Schiphol airport in departure hall 3. The desk is located halfway the hall facing the windows, next to Worldwide Bagage Services. Our service desk is open from Monday to Sunday, from 08:30 AM to 17:00 PM.

Click here for a map of our service desk at Schiphol Airport

Refund payments

At this moment, we have three ways to get the refund to you:
a. transfer to your (foreign or European) bankaccount;
b. transfer to your PayPal account. Paypal charges less fees for transactions than a bank;
c. cash payment at Schiphol airport for selected shops.

 

Stamped purchase receipts

Your original stamped purchase receipts can be sent directly to us for the VAT refund, or can be dropped off at our Schiphol airport service desk or in our dropbox at Customs. Our mailing address is:

vatfree.com
postbus 75605
1118 ZR Schiphol
The Netherlands


When to expect your refund

In general, it will take about 40 business days before all VAT amounts are offset by shops and transferred to us. It depends on the shops' payment terms how quick the refund is executed. If this takes longer than 60 business days, we will transfer you a partial refund payment*. Once the remaining VAT is offset by the shop, you will receive the remaining balance in a separate payment or with your next refund registration.

*A partial payment can only be realized if at least 50% of the VAT, plus the calculated service fee, has been offset by merchants. Please note that a partial payment will generally cost 5.50.

How to calculate your refund

The purchase price in the shop is the gross price, including VAT. Calculate your refund

Example
The VAT percentage in the Netherlands is 21%. Your refund when you register for a refund online = the purchase price/121 x percentage refund*.

If you made a purchase of €100, the VAT is €17.36 (100*21/121), our service fee is a minimum of €5 and your refund is €12,36
.

The percentage refund* is:
    €50 - €1000 is 15%
€1001 - €2000 is 16%
€2001 - €3000 is 17%
€3001 - €4000 is 18%

€4001 - €5000 is 19%
           >€5000 is 20%*

*Purchase amounts over €10.000 can only be registered at our service desk at Schiphol airport or sent to us via snail mail.
Call us +31 88 828 3733 for more information.


Sending by mail

If you are going to send us your documents via snailmail, please consider the fact it might take sometime before your letter reaches us and that there is a higher risk of the documents getting lost. Make sure to always make a copy of your receipts before sending us the originals.
We advise you to consider sending us your documents via registered mail. Our mail address is:

vatfree.com
postbus 75605
1118 ZR Schiphol
The Netherlands

What we need from you

To make use of our services, you will need to authorize us to contact shops in your name and collect the VAT. You will automatically receive an authorization in your email once you register for a VAT refund.

The authorization must be signed and sent to us together with the original stamped purchase receipts. We can only start processing your refund once we receive the signed authorization and the stamped purchase receipts.

Please note!
If you are making use of our service for the first time, we will also need a copy of your passport or other document stating your non-EU residency.


Data security

Your personal data sent to vatfree.com is treated as confidential in accordance with the EU protection regulations. Under EU law, personal data can only be gathered legally under strict conditions, for a legitimate purpose. Furthermore, persons or organisations which collect and manage your personal information must protect it from misuse and must respect certain rights of the data owners which are guaranteed by EU law. Furthermore, vatfree.com will only communicate with you via SSL, to your registered email.

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