VAT refund guide

Can anybody post to me to some good guide as regards VAT refunds for goods bought abroad? What are you using? QuickZoll app for example? I’ve never done it and I feel that I’m loosing a lot (someone mentioned getting VAT refunds for bulk shopping in France with 10% additional savings), but I would like to know if it is possible to do it completely online.

Basically when you buy something in Germany, you ask to get a Ausfuhrschein. With this Ausfuhrschein you go to the German customs (take care, only some border crossing points have a permanent guy sitting there) during opening times with the goods and get it stamped.

With that stamp back to the shop to get the money back (usually inside of one year, means next time you shop there and you get a cashback).

Only if you are above the limit for VAT in Switzerland (300CHF/pers./boarder crossing) or if you have goods which have special restrictions (alcohol, meat, cigarettes, commercial goods for reselling), you have to go to the Swiss Customs.

There are some shops working with third parties (global blue, premier tax free), but they will levy a fee for doing that.

France, Italy and Austria should work approx. the same, but there might be regulations about minimum amount to avoid people getting a refund for 1€ and all etc. (It might be that Germany introduces this for 50€ min. goods)

The Quickzoll app is just for duties, this is not the same then VAT.


Thanks for explanations, especially for pointing out my mistake with QuickZoll!

I would be buying rather in France than Germany, but I guess the procedure is the same. So, it is not possible to be done online or with unmanned border crossing?

I have additional question - VAT refund will be in full and then I have to pay proper VAT rate in Switzerland or it will be just the difference and then I would not to have pay anything in Switzerland?

France: more or less the same, except some differences about min. amounts, just google French VAT customs regulations or something like that.

For unmanned border crossing, I don’t think it will work (they have to check the goods). Germany wants to introduce a digital solution, but not there yet (why should they pay for a solution to ease up tax refunds for foreigners…)

Third question : do mind that you get the VAT back from the French state and then have to pay tax to Swiss state, so two different organisations with different rules. You get always the full refund from the origin country and the pay taxes and customs (if needed) in the destination country.

He has already answered here:

Do check what the french do. Germans for now refund any amount, italians I think only above 150EUR. I don’t know about the french.

In France I moslty had to deal with GlobalBlue which kind of sucks. The minimum amount depends on the willingness of the shop to do it. Some shop in Paris would not do it <150€ . Then you need to make sure you can have the stuff checked at the border and get the stamp otherwise they will not reimburse you. As far as I know it is not possible to do it online.

In the french border there is a semi-automatic system to do all the process. Not need to talk or find a border officer o talk with them. Just pass by the border and take some emply documents in case the shop doesn’t have any.

It’s in French but Google Translate is your friend :wink: Some information is also in English. The system is know as PABLO.



Many thanks! That sounds better ;).

In theory yes, as the buyer himself will be subject to VAT. But is the actual refund payment coming from the gouvernment in France - or rather from the merchant (like in Germany)?

…less handling fees and charges by intermediary service providers or the seller himself.

Yes practically the refund will come from the merchant who needs the confirmation that the goods left the country (basically the stamp from the customs)

In Konstanz (DE) next to the big Edeka shopping mall, there is a “Mobile Zollstelle” where you can get your stamp instead at the official border with lots of cars and waiting queues.

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QuickZoll App is pretty handy for paying swiss VAT, dont need anymore to wait at the counter when you are above 300 CHF/ person.

When you cleared the goods for export just pass the boarder immediatly. That means it is not allowed to drive back to the store to collect the VAT directly (or at least not if you take the cleared goods with you).

There is no obligation to have the „official“ form (green for germany). Any bill (Handelsrechnung) is perfectly fine to get the stamp, only need to make sure your adress in switzerland is mentioned. If you didnt have the possibility to add a shipping and a billing adress (though you habe this possibility in most onlineshops) you can handwrite your swiss adress on the bill.

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