Germany — Getting a Value-added tax (VAT) Refund
|General VAT Rate||Min. Refund Threshold||Local Currency|
Fully Digital VAT Refund
The VAT refund process in Germany isn't digital, and requires paperwork.
Refund Kiosk Availability
There are no VAT refund kiosks currently available in Germany.
Cash VAT Refund
In Germany, VAT refunds can be provided in cash.
Credit Card VAT Refund
In Germany, VAT refunds can be processed as a credit card refund.
Germany's main VAT rate is 19%, with other rates including 7% that can apply to certain transactions. The Value-added tax (VAT) is administered by the German Ministry of Finance (http://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de) in Berlin, and applies to most purchases of goods within Germany. A VAT refund may be available to visitors who qualify for VAT-free purchases in Germany.
Who qualifies for a Germany VAT Refund?
The VAT tax is meant to tax consumption of good within Germany, not goods exported to a foreign country. Therefore, Germany allows tourists and others who purchase goods within Germany for export to receive a refund of any VAT taxes paid.
In order to qualify to request a VAT refund in Germany, you must make at least €25.00 Euros worth of qualifying purchases.
How is my Germany VAT Refund Calculated?
Your total gross purchase amounts will be summed and rounded down to the nearest 1.00 Euro. From this total, the total amount of VAT refund will be calculated, based on the 19% standard VAT rate in Germany. For example:
€100 euros spent (incl. 19% VAT) = €84.00 base price + €16.00 VAT paid
In this example, you would receive an approximate tax refund amount of €16 on a total of €100 in purchases. As you can see, VAT refunds can be quite significant in Germany, especially if you're doing alot of shopping!
Germany VAT Refund Application Process
1.) Make Tax-Free Qualifying Purchases
When you make a qualifying purchase in Germany, 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!
Germany 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 Germany, 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 Germany, export validation for VAT-free purchases is carried out by Germany's Customs department, who will provide a customs stamp to your Tax-Free Forms fo verify that the goods have been exported.
Private companies specializing in duty-free shopping (such as Global Blue, Premier Tax Free, etc.) are also allowed to validate tax-free purchases in Germany. These companies may have locations at or near Germany's major international airports.
Important Note: Your must export validate your Tax-Free Forms at most 3 months after the purchase is made. This means that you can only make tax-free purchases in Germany for up to 3 months before you leave the country and export the goods purchased!
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.
Note that once you validate your Tax Free Forms, you have exactly 4 years to submit your documents for a VAT refund. Be sure to submit your documents as soon as possible to avoid losing your refund!
- EN: Germany VAT Refund
- RU: Германия Возврат НДС
- CN: 德国增值税退税
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