What is “Mehrwertsteuer”?
German prices include a value added tax (“Mehrwertsteuer” or MWSt) of between 7% and 19%. Customers residing outside the European Union and who export goods within 3 months of purchase may ask for a tax refund. Note that the retailer is not obliged to refund the tax, but many will do so.
How do I get a Tax Refund?
When purchasing the goods in Germany, inform your retailer about the fact that the goods are intended for export. You will usually be furnished with an exportt form or documents for the “Tax Free” program.
When leaving Germany, the export form or the Tax Free documents, the goods and your passport and boarding pass must be presented to the German customs office at the airport for verification. Verification is free of charge.
If you received a “Tax Free Shopping Check”, you can ask for a cash refund at the Tax Free counter at the airport. If you received an export form, it must be sent by post to the retailer after your trip.
Can the German Mission Assist?
Only in exceptional cases, if you can account for the fact that you could not obtain the customs verification (2.) at the airport, can the export confirmation be given by the Embassy/Consulate. You must present:
- the purchased goods
- your passport
- proof of place of residence outside of the European Union (if your passport does not list a place of residence outside the European Union, you must present other proof)
- original invoice/receipt and completed export form or Tax Free Shopping Checks
- Proof that the goods were exported by you (airline ticket in your name)
- If you do not present the documents within three months of purchase: proof of export before the end of the 3-months-deadline
- an reasonable account for the fact that you could not obtain customs verification
- fee of 25,- Euro per invoice/receipt