Updated on July 20, 2022
Value added tax (VAT) of 19% is included in the price of most goods purchased in Germany (VAT).
Any VAT paid by a consumer whose place of residence is outside the European Union can be returned. Please keep in mind that the product must be exported within three months after purchase in order to receive a tax refund.
Make sure that the German shopkeepers know that they’re dealing with an American customer before making any purchases. Tax-Free Shopping Checks or “Ausfuhrbescheinigung” (export documents) are included with your receipt.
Only the export documents or the Tax-Free Shopping Check plus should be used when leaving the European Union via Germany.
The store’s initial receipts
With its original packaging and with the original price tag, the acquired products
, and a passport showing that you live outside of the European Union
at the airport must be presented to the Customs Service (you must leave Germany on a non-stop flight to a country outside the EU). After the products have been inspected, the export paperwork will be stamped with the appropriate stamp. Please make sure that your carry-on luggage contains the products, as you will be required to show them to the airport staff.
Invoices that have been stamped in Germany and returned to the store in Germany should be sent back to the retailer in the US.
You may be able to get a cash refund for the Tax Free Shopping Check if the company has an office at the airport. Tax-Free Shopping Checks can be returned by mailing a refund check to the address on the back of the check.
Certification by German diplomatic or consular mission (exception)
Diplomatic or consular posts in Germany could grant a certification under extremely rare circumstances.
There must be written proof that the export stamp was not issued in the German port of departure.
There are the same regulations that control customs that apply:
Tax-free The receipts for shopping or the export papers Consular officers must see your passport and proof of residency before inspecting your acquired goods (unused/unworn in their original packaging and with the price tag).
When purchasing goods from outside of Germany, you should check with your local Embassy/Consulate to verify if the certification is available.
Determine which German mission is responsible for receiving the supplies.
There are now nine German embassies in the United States. Every single one covers a different part of the country or continent. Find a consulate near you using our Consulate Finder.
In order to avoid paying taxes on the item(s), it must be exported within three months from the month it was purchased.
If products purchased after the deadline are delivered to the German mission abroad, proof of exportation must be provided (e.g. airline ticket, entry stamp in your passport).
Each export document that has the seal applied costs 34.07 Euros.
The fee can either be paid in cash (equivalent in US dollars) or by a credit card that is accepted internationally, depending on the current exchange rate (card will be charged in Euro, additional charges by the credit card company may apply).