A little note about VAT refunds

If you purchase an item in Europe you qualify for a tax refund when you leave the country. One thing of note: the “country” means the entire European Union. So, if you buy something in Lisbon and then go to Mallorca you are not able to get the refund. Then if you continue on to Edinburgh, you’re still not out of the European Union. Basically you have 90 days from your purchase to get the customs stamp that verifies your purchase and refund. And you must get that stamp from the last country you visit before returning home.

So…a little problem if you’re not heading out within 90 days. But sometimes a sad story will suffice or rather…lying. It all depends on who is manning the customs office and how long the line is. I had some lying luck leaving Mallorca with something I had purchased in Lisbon. (I wasn’t successful with this ruse when I left Lisbon.) The customs agent wanted to see my boarding pass and passport, of course, along with the receipt and the VAT form that had previously been filled out by the shop where I bought the item.

He perceptively noted to me that my boarding pass showed I was not leaving the EU and was heading to Edinburgh. So where was my ongoing itinerary? Well…unfortunately my “friend” had gone ahead of me and had all that information. “Not even an email from the airline with your itinerary”, he asked. No, unfortunately not. Of course, he wasn’t fooled but felt like giving me a break, I guess. So, he stamped my form and YAY, I got my refund.

So, the moral of this story is if you’re not leaving in that 90 day period either lie or give it up. It depends alot on the refund amount…if it’s a small amount, it’s definitely not worth it. And…have a sad luck story ready in detail; go in the morning before a line forms and; hope to god you have a sympathetic agent.

I won’t try this again.

About micetrail

An avid traveler, trader and terpsichorian
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