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All goods purchased in Germany are subject to a value-added tax ("Mehrwertsteuer/MWST" or "Umsatzsteuer") of 19% (or 7% on certain goods). Tourists can apply for a VAT refund for goods purchased in and exported to a country outside of the European Union within three months after the date of the purchase.
Many shops in Germany and the EU offer VAT refunds; facilitated by the company Global Refunds. These shops display the sign "TAX FREE for tourists". On a minimum purchase of 25,-€ clients who are not residents in the EU may receive a "TAX FREE Shopping Cheque". This shopping cheque must get validated by the customs office upon departure from the European Union. To receive your VAT refund, follow the instructions given on the tax free shopping cheque. Please note that Global Refund retains a service fee from your refund.
How to claim a VAT refund
- Tax refund forms ("Ausfuhrkassenzettel") can be purchased in stationery shops (DOWNLOAD provided).
- When you buy goods, inform the vendor that you are not an EU resident and that you intend to export the goods. Ask whether the company is ready to refund the VAT.
- Fill in the tax refund form and have the form signed and stamped by the vendor. Attach the original invoice to the form.
- Upon departure from Germany, show the tax refund form, the original invoice, your passport, and the purchased goods to the German customs office. The customs officer will confirm the export of the goods by stamping the tax refund form.
- Now, to get your tax refund, you can send the form and the original invoice to the company from which you obtained the goods.
Certification by the German Foreign Missions in exceptional cases only
The German Foreign Missions can only certify the export of goods in justified exceptional cases. You need to provide a plausible explanation as to why the certification could not be obtained at the customs office prior to departure.
In addition, you must present the following:
- the exported goods (with price tags)
- your passport indicating place of residence and travel dates to and from Germany
- export invoices and original receipts
- the forms below filled in and signed
- your flight ticket
- proof of your permanent residency in Canada (i.e. with your Canadian Driver's License)
The German Foreign Missions can only stamp the Tax Refund Form if:
- the goods were purchased in Germany
- the goods are intended for private, non-commercial use
- the goods have been exported in the personal luggage of the buyer
- you reside in Canada and you are not a permanent resident of Germany
- you left Germany less than 3 month after purchasing the relevant goods
A fee equivalent to € 25.00 (equivalent of approx. C$37.00) will be charged for each Tax Refund Form processed.