VAT: Do you know about Global Blue?
Now lets Talk shopping. This is not just for women. Gone are the days of going hog wild shopping when the dollar is strong. Through the years currencies and shopping has changed. Europe has the Euro and luxury brands figured out price adjusting so the deals are not what they use to be but often its still a bit better purchasing in Europe rather than the US. If you are planning on making some substantial purchases it is worth the time to fill out some paperwork and go to the airport a bit early to deal with the process. The VAT rates vary per country but typically much higher than US Sales tax.
Landing in Europe and waiting for luggage I walked around the Baggage claim area and saw ads and brochures on Global Blue. I took a quick look before the carousel started moving and then I switched my focus back to collecting our luggage. When we went shopping I made a purchase and the store gave me Global Blue documents. When I inquired, he said “I show you” and escorted me around the corner to a Global Blue office (that was more like a showroom) where I waited for more processing. Within hours of leaving I was notified by my credit card company that I had a refund.
Global Blue is a digital tax-free shopping system which provides a refund for fashion, textiles, leatherwear, jewelery, glassware, sunglasses, wines and other alcohol almost immediately. Global Blue works with a number of luxury brands, but not all that you would expect. Various countries have different minimum purchases and return rate, but this is a much easier way to achieve your VAT refund. You do have to have your passport details while shopping; we recommend you have a copy or photo on your phone for easy access. The merchant will fill out paperwork and give you receipts that you will need for filing with Global Blue at the airport. You must file your paperwork with customs for a stamp and at Global Blue kiosk at the airport before you go through security upon departure, so you have to plan enough time to do this. There are workarounds including mailing your Global Blue info, but the easiest best way is to just get this taken care of at the airport. You will see a refund to your credit card almost instantly after purchase in many cases, but unless you file that paperwork properly - it will be deducted.
Global Blue Tax Free Shopping is available (as of 9/17/2018) in the following countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uruguay. Only persons who don’t reside in the respective country are eligible for VAT refund.
For EU countries, only persons who reside outside of EU are eligible for VAT refund.
EU residents can purchase goods with Global Blue Tax Free Shopping in non – EU countries, e.g. Norway and Switzerland. FAQs can be found here.
Global Blue is in addition to the standard VAT system which you may also use depending on the brand (if it doesn’t participate in Global Blue) and or purchase amount. You go through the typical process of getting customs stamps and filing at the airport. Our departure airport had a Global Blue Kiosk next to the VAT refund counter and we did have to do both. Just a reminder (because we tend to neglect this fact), technically you are to have the goods in your possession in the event that they ask to see the purchase. I have seen people questioned and pulling things out of a suitcase and I was never asked until recently, so it does happen.