Retail Export Scheme

Updated on March 7, 2022

Overview

Tourists and travellers from outside of the European Union (EU) can claim back VAT paid on goods purchased in the EU under the Retail Export Scheme, excluding Northern Ireland. An EU visitor’s purchases must be taken out of the EU within 3 months. Evidence that you bought and downloaded the product is required.

As at midnight on December 31st, 2020, the following information should be available to all residents of the United Kingdom.

Residents of Northern Ireland are not eligible for the Retail Export Scheme.

and

Providing proof of export is a requirement for residents of the United Kingdom.

Who should you contact about refunds?

Refund requests for particular claims from tourists or travellers should be sent to the shop or refunds agent with somebody you have been working. Under the retail export arrangement, tax refunds are not the responsibility of the Revenue Commissioners.

The Revenue office can be contacted by shops or refund agents for any questions.

Who can use the scheme?

Non-EU citizens visiting the United States are eligible for this programme, as are citizens of other nations. Visitors from Great Britain are included, while residents of Northern Ireland are not.

Who cannot use the scheme?

The following people are ineligible to participate:

People living in states, in an another Eu Country or Northern Ireland, or non-EU nationals living in states whenever they leave the State to live outside the EU are all subject to this rule when they return.

How do you get a refund of Value-Added Tax (VAT)?

No compensation would be given to visitors who use the retail exporting system. If you provide confirmation of import, the store and the Value-Added Tax (VAT) return agency will refund the sales tax.

Check with the shop to see if they participate in this programme before you buy. There may or may not be a VAT refund agent in the shop’s VAT refund scheme. This information is critical.

You will receive an export voucher if you purchase a qualifying product from a participating shop. There are drop-boxes at the border where you can deposit vouchers for certification if your items are not of significant value. The retailer will receive the voucher once it has been redeemed. The company will accept proof in the form of an official export certificate and execute a refund claim. As soon as the store receives your verified coupon, you have 25 days to complete your refund request.

Proof of arrival into the UK and payment of all applicable import taxes and levies will also be required from British nationals. Proof of entry into the United Kingdom is not required from visitors or tourists who do not exceed their personal allotment for taxable imports.

Goods imported into the UK that exceed the personal allowance are subject to customs and excise taxes and levies.

A duty slip and HMRC receipt are issued by the UK Border Force to show the import taxes and fees paid by the importer.
To receive a discount, simply inform the retailer that you’ll be away from home on a vacation or business trip.

Documents attesting to your status as a traveller and your intention to export the goods in compliance with the program’s rules are required, as is proof of your current address.
Customers must follow the procedures provided by the refund agent in order to secure a refund for merchandise. Export vouchers should be left with the agent while leaving the state, except for high-value products. A refund will be issued once Customs verification is complete. It will take 25 days to complete this task.

Certain VAT refund providers use a card to keep track of each transaction. Tourists and travellers who meet the requirements can pay with a credit card that is swiped at the time of purchase. The agent’s instructions must be followed to the letter.

Therefore, notwithstanding the above indicated limits, products must be readily available for inspection.

A VAT refund may be available for your purchases, so be sure to check there. Peruse the articles on this page to learn more about the latest high-end products.

On what purchases can you reclaim VAT?

VAT can be reclaimed on purchases of ‘travellers qualifying items,’ which are goods that are defined as such by the government.

Those belonging to the tourist or traveller who are exported outside the EU by or on behalf of the tourist or traveller in his or her own luggage are included in this category.

To be eligible for a VAT refund, a supply of goods must meet the following requirements:

be worth at least €75, and must be exported by or on behalf of the traveller by the final working day of the third month after they were given to them.
It excludes goods that are used for private transportation, such as pleasure boats, private planes, and other vehicles.

Special procedures for high value goods

Products costing over €2,000 each must be delivered to a Customs Agent for export certification, together with the following documentation:

paperwork delivered by the shop to the traveller, including the export voucher and other sales-related documentation (guarantee, certificate of origin etc.)
There will be no Customs stamp on strong export vouchers left in the dropbox or given to refund agents. Allow ample time after check-in to proceed to the Customs department with the products if you want a VAT refund on these items

Note

The shop or refund agent will not be able to execute your refund if the Customs vouchers for such goods are not stamped.

Export certificates for items worth at €2,000 or more will be stamped by Irish Customs for transit travellers departing the EU via another airport during the next 24 hours (including VAT). The export voucher will be certified at the point of departure from the EU in all other cases involving high-value items.

Can I reclaim VAT on the purchase of services?

A Customs Agent must be provided with the following papers in order to export products costing more than €2,000:

the shop’s export voucher and other sale prices paperwork is delivered to the traveller (guarantee, certificate of origin etc.)
Strong export vouchers that are left inside the dropbox or given to refund agents will not have a Customs stamp on them. If you want a VAT refund on these things, you’ll need to go to Customs after you check in. Give yourself plenty of time.

Note

If the Customs vouchers for these items are not stamped, neither the store nor the refund agent will be able to process your return.

In the next 24 hours, Irish Customs will be stamping export certifications for things worth at least €2,000 for EU transit passengers going via another airport (including VAT). All other cases involving high-value commodities, the export voucher will be confirmed at the point of departure from the EU.

What is the ‘VAT Off’ refund scheme?

‘VAT Off’ schemes have been approved by Revenue for some retailers or refund agents. By doing this, you can avoid paying VAT on the things you buy. You will be told by the particular retailer of the terms and restrictions of the programme before it may be used. It is everyone’s duty to

the shop, the refund agent, and the tourist or traveller to make sure that all standards and criteria are met are all required to be met.

How do retailers operate the scheme?

When it comes to running the programme, retailers have two choices. If you’d like to, you can:

Use a third-party refund agency or set up your own.
You can charge VAT on the sale to the tourist or traveller, issue an export voucher with the details of that transaction, and then return VAT as usual in your VAT return if you manage the scheme yourself. For example..

When you get the programme, make sure to get all the documentation you need, including evidence of exports.

Give the traveller their VAT back by taking a credit on their VAT return for the VAT they previously returned.

What evidence do you require that a person is a tourist or traveller?

You must preserve the following records to prove that the customer is a tourist or visitor:

Travelers must provide information such as the date they entered the European Union (EU), their passport number, their intended departure date, their permanent address outside of the EU, and a signed declaration stating that they are not citizens of either the EU or Northern Ireland at the time of purchasing their ticket.

What records do you need to retain in relation to each sale?

For each sale, you must remember to keep information in your records:

tourist or traveler’s name and address, the date of the transaction, a description of the items delivered, the amount of money spent, and any applicable VAT (or ‘VAT off’, if applicable) that was charged or refunded.
If the reimbursement is to be made in a currency other than Euro, you’ll need the traveler’s signature, the exchange rate, and the technique you’ll use to figure it out.
Tourists and travellers should never be handed blank retail export scheme papers for them to fill out on their own.

Your records must include the following when you return money to a tourist or traveller:

when and how much money was returned to the traveller after fees and charges were deducted.

What evidence do you require that the goods have been exported?

You must always keep a copy of the export certificate, which must be signed by a Customs Officer.

Other than that, where

For example, if you are selling products to a British tourist or traveller who exceeds their personal allowance for paying import taxes in Great Britain, you will also need to show that the import VAT and charges payable under UK law have been paid, where appropriate.

There is a need for proof:

Duty Slip produced by the UK Border Force and HMRC Receipt showing the import taxes and charges paid.

What happens if the sale is voided or reversed?

As soon as a sale is nullified, you must seek and keep the original copies of all paperwork relevant to that sale. This includes the tourist’s or traveler’s original receipts. A sale that is cancelled is one in which the customer returns the things they purchased.

What happens if I use a refund agent?

With a refund broker, you will sign a contract with them. Essentially, you’re selling your products to the refund agent, who then sells them to the tourist or traveller. You issue an invoice to the agent for the purchase and, as is customary, you refund the VAT in your VAT return.

How do refund agents operate the scheme?

A traveller or traveller who wants a VAT refund must meet the requirements of a certain VAT refund agent in order to get the refund.

An employee of a refund agency can choose whether or not to take action:

As a supplier of goods directly or as an agent for the supplier of goods.
If the refunds are handled by a representative rather than a principle, travellers and tourists will get them in a variety of ways.

The VAT refund agent where acting as principal

Refund agents purchase goods from retailers and resell them to tourists or travellers instantly when working as a principal.

As principals, these refund agents will enter into contracts with the shops in order to do so. In this scenario, you’ll act as the person responsible for reimbursing the traveler’s VAT. You will follow the same procedures as a store when requesting a VAT refund.

Tourists and travellers can be given a “card” that records all of the qualifying items they purchase while on the road, as long as Revenue has given you permission to do so. The card should be able to store all of the information needed to run the programme. In order for the Customs Officer to certify that the items have been exported, the card must be able to reproduce these facts.

It is your obligation to refund a traveller or tourist within 25 working days after receiving the relevant information to complete their claim.

What exchange rate should you use?

One of the following exchange rates should be used when receiving a refund in a currency other than Euro.

The Central Bank of Ireland publishes the official monthly average exchange rate on the date the refund is paid or on an average monthly basis.
You may also use other internationally recognised exchange rate providers with the authorization of your tax office.

VAT refund agent where acting as an agent of the tourist or traveller?

Whenever a VAT refund agency is hired to get a VAT refund on behalf of a tourist or traveller, the VAT refund agency is acting as a representative of the tourist or traveller. When a traveller or tourist is eligible for a refund, an agent must inform them of all of the requirements.

Fees charged by a refund agent to the tourist or traveller

The refund representative must inform the traveller in ahead of any fees they may impose. The fee to be imposed or the method by which the fee will be determined must be specified in this guidance. Providing this information as part of the sign-in procedure on your website will satisfy this requirement.

Certification of export

What is certification of export?

When a Customs Officer stamps your export certificate, which must be for at least €75 if issued in this country, you have received certification. A retailer or refund agent has to know that the items have left the European Union (EU) in line with the conditions of the retail export scheme in order to get a refund from the store. Customs in this country or Customs Officers in the EU Member State from which you are departing can offer this certification.

To be clear, this certification is the proof of export required for the reimbursement of VAT to tourists or travellers who have purchased eligible products. In addition, it serves as the basis for charging VAT-free fees for export services given by a refund agency to a tourist or traveller.

Certification by Irish Customs

The export voucher can be deposited in the Customs drop-box available in the Departure Terminals when a visitor or traveller departing the country requests a refund of VAT paid directly to the store. Tourists and travellers can receive a VAT refund from retailers who return the export voucher once it has been verified.

Export vouchers are required when a tourist or traveller claims a refund of VAT paid through a refund agent, except in the event of high-value products. Customs will verify the export vouchers provided by the refund agent.

A tourist or traveler’s export voucher must be given to the Customs Officer for certification of any high-value products.

Irish Customs will certify the export voucher for products acquired in the country other than high-value commodities, even if the country is not the final point of departure from the EU.

Evidence is needed to support this claim:

It is required that the traveller has a valid travel ticket for a location outside of the EU, which expires no later than three months after purchase.
As part of the certification procedure, customs may inspect any items that meet the criteria. A traveller or tourist should be able to produce the items in question if asked to do so by Customs. A tourist or traveller will be returned an unstamped export voucher or receipt if Customs Officers are unsure of its legality.

Certification of export other than by Customs Officers of the State

Certification by Customs at the final place of departure from the EU

Rather than the Member State where the eligible products were acquired, the final point of exit from the Eu is the only place that can verify the export of the products for a tourist or traveller. If you’re planning a European tour, you should keep this in mind. Travelers and tourists must meet the requirements of retail export schemes before a Customs Officer can certify their compliance.

Keep in mind that EU member states’ certification processes may differ from one another. Your qualifying commodities should be checked in another EU Member State according to the criteria of the customs agency in that country.

Certification by officials in the tourist’s or traveller’s country of residence

A visitor or traveller may not be able to obtain export certification from Customs before departing the country under certain conditions. Tourists and travellers may still be eligible for a refund of Value-Added Tax (VAT) in several situations (VAT). A tourist or traveller who wants to claim a VAT refund must show proof that the products they are claiming have been brought into their country of residence.

As an example, this certification can be supplied by:

Notary Public and Commissioner of Oaths for Customs and Border Patrol.
It is the responsibility of the tourist or traveller to send this certification to their VAT refund agent or Irish merchant along with the receipt or export voucher.

As proof of export, a tourist’s or traveler’s nation of residence must be accepted by a store or return agency in advance.

However, VAT refunds on high-value goods are not eligible for this option. Information on how to claim VAT on high-value goods can be found here.