The price for merchandise purchased in the Federal Republic of Germany includes a 19% Value Added Tax (VAT). The VAT can be refunded if the merchandise is purchased and exported by a customer whose residence is outside the European Union. This merchandise must be for private consumption only and not designated for any commercial business.
The refund is a fiscal advantage granted by the German government to the retailer. It can voluntarily be passed on from the retailer to the customer. However, the retailer is not obliged to do so.
How to obtain a refund
1. The customer has to inform the retailer at the time of purchase that the merchandise is to be exported to a country outside the European Union. The customer will then get a special export invoice (Ausfuhr- und Abnehmerbescheinigung). Please note that some retailers use the service of a private Tax Free Shopping Service. In these cases, a Tax Free Shopping Check will be issued.
2. When leaving the European Union, the export invoice or the Tax Free Shopping Check has to be submitted to the Customs Service at the airport or the border point, together with a proof of the customer's residence outside the European Union (e.g. passport) so that the export of the merchandise can be certified. The procedure also includes examination of the merchandise purchased in Germany. Please note that the merchandise has to be exported within three months of the purchase to qualify for tax refund.
3. After certification by the Customs Service, the export invoice has to be sent back to the store in which the merchandise was purchased. In case the Tax Free Shopping Service handles the reimbursement, the customer may be able to obtain a cash refund if the Tax Free Shopping Service maintains an office at the exit airport. Otherwise, the checks should be sent to the address shown on the back of the Tax Free Shopping Check. Please indicate the method of payment that you wish to receive (credit card number or name, routing number and account number of your bank account).
Justified exceptional cases only: Certification by the German Embassy or Consulate General:
The competent German Mission can assist customers in certifying export invoices in justified exceptional cases. A plausible explanation as to why the certification could not be obtained by the Customs Service at the airport has to be given. To obtain the certification at the German mission the same regulations apply as for the German Customs Service.
It is therefore necessary to present:
- all items purchased in Germany
- valid passport for proof of residence in a country outside the European Union
- original receipt, export invoice or Tax Free Shopping Check
Please note that the merchandise has to be exported within three months of its purchase. In case the merchandise is submitted after this period, proof of the export within the above-mentioned deadline (e.g. ticket) will also have to be submitted.
A consular fee of the equivalent of €20 (payable in Rs) for each individual invoice is applicable.