VAT refund

Customer information on VAT refund

Updated on 30 July 2021

Schild Flughafen mit VAT Refund

We are very happy to refund the VAT paid to our customers abroad. Unfortunately, the German legislator has issued extensive regulations for this under which conditions and on the basis of which detailed evidence we are allowed to do so. This very bureaucratic process is unfortunately also time-consuming and therefore cost-intensive, so that this is only worthwhile for larger purchases. On this information page, we inform you about the requirements for the refund of VAT and the necessary proof. For enquiries, please write to our customer service at

VAT refund for export supplies in non-commercial travel (private)


Upon request, we will refund the VAT paid - minus a processing fee of EUR 60 - after private export in personal travel to a third country or third territory, provided that all of the following (legally specified) conditions have been fulfilled:

  • Third country buyer: The buyer has his permanent place of residence in an area outside the excise tax territory of the EU (third country buyer) and NO residence in Germany
  • Exclusively private use: The purchased goods are exclusively intended for the private use of the third country buyer ("not commercial")
  • Export only in personal luggage: An export in non-commercial travel exists if the third-country buyer takes the acquired goods in personal luggage into the third-country territory. It is possible to take the goods with him in his personal luggage in hand luggage, in checked-in luggage for a rail, air or sea journey or in a car, including a van
  • Export within three months of purchase: The buyer has proven that the goods have been exported in non-commercial travel before the end of the third month following the month of delivery. The date on the customs export certificate or that the application for a VAT refund was paid during this period shall apply.
  • Only with complete proofs: The two necessary proofs (proof of export and proof of customer) as well as the original invoice must be sent to us in full (see below)

Note: There is NO export in tourist traffic if the buyer sends the goods to a third country by a forwarding agent, by rail or post or by any other freight carrier or if he does not transport the goods to the third country in the normal course of travel, but e.g. by road, rail or air. for example furniture or large household appliances in his own or rented lorry.

Definition of third-country buyer

Third-country nationals are travellers with a fixed place of residence in a third-country territory. The place of residence is the place where the purchaser has taken up residence for a longer period of time and which is to be regarded as the local centre of his life. The place of residence in this sense is deemed to be the place entered in the passport or other border crossing documents. The nationality of the buyer is irrelevant. The place of residence in the third country must be present at the time of the export delivery.

  • Third country territory: This is the territory that is NOT EU territory or is NOT treated as EU territory.
  • EU territory: The EU territory is the German inland and the territories of the other member states of the EU (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Cyprus (Greek part).
  • Treated as EU territory: The following territories are part of or treated as EU territory according to treaty law: Akrotiri and Dhekalia (Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Cyprus), Azores (Portugal), Balearic Islands (Spain), Principality of Monaco (France), Isle of Man (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Madeira (Portugal).
  • Special rules NONE EU territory: The following territories are NOT part of the EU territory and are therefore third country territories: Åland Islands (Finland); Andorra; Mount Athos (Greece); Büsingen (Germany); Campione d ́Italia (Italy); Ceuta (Spain); Färöer (Denmark); Gibraltar (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland); Grönland (Denmark); Guadeloupe; French Guiana; Martinique; Mayotte; Réunion; Saint-Barthé lemy and Saint-Martin (France); Heligoland (Germany); Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland); Canary Islands (Spain); Livigno (Italy); Lake Lugano (also insofar as it belongs to Italian territory); Melilla (Spain); Netherlands Antilles; San Marino (Italy); Vatican City and the Turkish part of Cyprus

Examples for third country buyers:

  • A German citizen has her place of residence in Switzerland according to the entry in her passport. She is a third-country national.
  • A Japanese citizen has his place of residence in Belgium. He is not a third-country national.
  • A student from a third country is studying in Germany. He has a place of residence in the territory of the EU during his studies and is therefore not a third-country national.
  • A Turkish national is an employee in Germany or in another Member State of the European Union. As a rule, he then has his place of residence in the territory of the EU and is therefore not a third-country national
  • A German diplomat is transferred from his previous job at the headquarters of the Federal Foreign Office to a German embassy in a third country. He buys goods in a German retail shop or in an electronic shop which he wants to take with him to his new place of assignment. He is then a third-country buyer if, at the time of delivery, he has already established his new place of residence in the third-country territory and proves this to the entrepreneur by means of an official document. The transfer order of the Foreign Office to the third country territory alone is not sufficient for this purpose.
  • The above explanations also apply to soldiers of the Bundeswehr who are transferred to an assignment in a third country with a change of residence (e.g. to a German air force unit in Canada) as well as to employees of the private sector who are transferred by their employer to an assignment in a third country for a longer period of time with their place of residence in that country. These are third-country nationals.
  • Soldiers from third countries stationed in Germany and their family members are not third-country nationals. The same applies to the staff of diplomatic or consular representations from third countries with activities in the EU territory.

Necessary evidence for the VAT refund
We require the following three documents from you. We recommend that you download the export certificate from the tax office and take a printout with you to present at the border control point.

1. proof of export

This is the proof of export of the goods and consists of the original invoice and the export certificate. This proof of export must contain the following information in accordance with §9 of the Value Added Tax Implementing Regulation:

  • Name and address of the supplying trader.
  • Trade name(s) and quantity(s) of the exported goods
  • Place and date of export
  • Export confirmation from the border customs office of the EU Member State through which the buyer exports the goods

2. proof of purchase

The proof of purchase confirms the status as a third country buyer. This must contain the following information in accordance with §17 of the VAT Implementing Regulation:

  • Name and address (country, place of residence; street and house number) of the third country buyer
  • Confirmation by the border customs office, by means of an official stamp, that the data of the address of the buyer in the documents (original invoice and export certificate) correspond to the entries in the passport or border crossing document presented. Recommendation: Use the export certificate
    for this purpose. Note: If it is not possible to state the full address of the buyer, e.g. due to language problems and/or the use of foreign characters in the buyer's passport, the country of residence and the number of the passport or other border crossing document shall apply in addition to the name of the buyer.

3. original invoice

We require the original invoice because it shows the value added tax. Without the original invoice, a refund of the value-added tax is not possible in accordance with the Ordinance on the Implementation of Value-Added Tax, even if all other evidence is provided.

Please ensure that these supporting documents are completed in full and that all necessary details are included accurately! A simple stamp on the original invoice is unfortunately NOT sufficient. We recommend the use of the export certificate (form from the German tax office), here all fields for the necessary details are taken into account.

Auxiliary confirmation by a German diplomatic mission or consular post
If proof of export and/or purchase cannot be provided by the border customs office or if this is unreasonable for the buyer (e.g. because the goods purchased are in the country of destination). (e.g. because the purchased goods are in the checked-in luggage), these confirmations can be issued by a German representation abroad in the buyer's country of residence (cf. Part C of the form for the export and buyer certificate). As a rule, this requires that the goods are presented to the diplomatic mission or consular post. In these cases it is also important to confirm that the buyer was resident in the third country at the time of delivery, i.e. when the goods were handed over to him by

Administrative fee 60.- EUR
The administrative effort for such a VAT refund is unfortunately considerable due to the legal requirements. The documents listed above must be carefully checked, entered into the bookkeeping and kept in the paper original for 10 years. The advance VAT returns must be corrected retrospectively for the relevant advance return period. In addition, there are fees for the necessary foreign bank transfer to the customer, which may well amount to EUR 10 to 20.

We want to continue to offer our products at low prices. Due to the infrequent use of VAT refunds, we do not have a ready-made IT solution or a contract with a specific service provider. Therefore, we kindly ask for your understanding that we have to charge a fee of 60 EUR for the manual processing of the procedure, which will be deducted from the VAT to be refunded by us. Our actual expenditure is approximately double this amount.