Costa Rica — Getting a Value-added tax (VAT) Refund
|General VAT Rate||Min. Refund Threshold||Local Currency|
Fully Digital VAT Refund
The VAT refund process in Costa Rica isn't digital, and requires paperwork.
Refund Kiosk Availability
There are no VAT refund kiosks currently available in Costa Rica.
Cash VAT Refund
In Costa Rica, VAT refunds cannot be provided in cash.
Credit Card VAT Refund
In Costa Rica, VAT refunds cannot be processed as a credit card refund.
Costa Rica's main VAT rate is 13%, with other rates including 10%, 5% and 0% that can apply to certain transactions. The Value-added tax (VAT) is administered by the Ministry of Finance (http://dgt.hacienda.go.cr) in San José, and applies to most purchases of goods within Costa Rica. A VAT refund may be available to visitors who qualify for VAT-free purchases in Costa Rica.
Who qualifies for a Costa Rica VAT Refund?
The VAT tax is meant to tax consumption of good within Costa Rica, not goods exported to a foreign country. Therefore, Costa Rica allows tourists and others who purchase goods within Costa Rica for export to receive a refund of any VAT taxes paid.
In order to qualify to request a VAT refund in Costa Rica, you must make at least € Euros worth of qualifying purchases.
How is my Costa Rica VAT Refund Calculated?
Your total gross purchase amounts will be summed and rounded to the nearest Colon. From this total, the total amount of VAT refund will be calculated, based on the 13% standard VAT rate in Costa Rica. For example:
€100 euros spent (incl. 13% VAT) = €88.00 base price + €12.00 VAT paid
In this example, you would receive an approximate tax refund amount of €12 on a total of €100 in purchases. As you can see, VAT refunds can be quite significant in Costa Rica, especially if you're doing alot of shopping!
Costa Rica VAT Refund Application Process
1.) Make Tax-Free Qualifying Purchases
When you make a qualifying purchase in Costa Rica, you will receive a Tax Free Form from the vendor that records the purchases you made and the amount you paid. You will receive a separate Tax Free Form for each purchase.
The Tax Free Form may be a government form, or it may be associated with a particular sales tax refund processing company (like Global Blue or Premier Tax Free, shown here). Note that processing companies will collect a percentage of your VAT refund as a fee!
Costa Rica does not require you to save the original purchase receipt, so the Tax Free Form is sufficient for applying for a VAT refund.
2.) Validate Your Tax-Free Forms
Your Tax-Free Forms must be export validated in order to be accepted for a tax refund. Validation confirms that the products have been exported from Costa Rica, and will often be done in the airport as you leave the country.
You may be required to show your foreign passport, a plane ticket, and/or other proof that the goods you are buying VAT-free will be exported to a qualifying country. In Costa Rica, export validation for VAT-free purchases is not carried out by customs, but may be managed by Costa Rica's tax department or private companies.
3.) Receive Your VAT Tax Refund
Once you have validated your Tax Free Forms, you're ready to receive your VAT refund. If you used a refund processing company, you will be able to receive your refund by submitting the validated forms to a company refund desk at the airport, or via mail (most companies make pre-paid envelopes available for this purpose). If you did not use a processing company, follow the instructions on your tax free form to receive your refund.
- EN: Costa Rica VAT Refund
- RU: Возврат НДС
- CN: 增值税退税
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