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Author: walshcs

Joined: 1/25/2011
Posts: 102
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Countries Visited:

Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Guatemala, the Canadian Maritimes incl. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI, Montreal (Quebec), , and many USA cities incl. NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, the Oregon coast, Maine coast, parts of Florida. I took a 10 day tour to Costa Rica where I was especially thrilled to experience the tropical plants, birds, volcanos, and met the friendly Ticos. I did Ireland in Depth with GCT Oct. 2011 and it was an inspiring, beautiful, and meaningful experience to finally visit the land of my Irish ancestors. Completed the Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast with the pre-trip to Venice April 21, 2012 and it was a travel dream fulfilled. I booked Guatemala with Tikal, Antigua and Atitlan for January 2013 and had a wonderful adventure discovering modern day Maya culture and learning about ancient Maya city states with my visit to Tikal. It was very exciting that OAT brought back the trip to Japan. I had the trip of a lifetime including the pre-trip to Tokyo in Nov. 2013 and even did the Maiko make-over in Kyoto. My friends at home couldn't believe the "20 year old" in the photos of a Geisha were really me. Thank you professional photographer & photo shop! :) The next trip booked for Sept. 2014 is the Best of Eastern Europe (land trip version) and I'm looking forward to history & culture in that region. Now I finally have the resources to pursue my "bucket list" of foreign travel and the freedom to chart my own life's course. Ask questions that will satisfy your requirements/interests in a travel buddy. Looking forward to meeting you here and maybe in the world. Warm regards, Cate I'll post a photo when I remember to bring one from home. (Only have internet at work for now.)

Traveler Since: 2011

March 13, 2014

Hi All,

Please offer your experiences with obtaining the VAT refund for purchases made in Europe. There seem to be times that it is impossible...mostly because there is no service window, or its closed, or no one in airport knows where it is so one cannot obtain the required stamp prior to departure from the international airport.

The VAT percentage is substantial in the countries included in The Best of Eastern Europe GCT trip so I'm hoping to get my money back on the more expensive purchases like silver jewelry and embroidery.

Also...dumb question: Must I pay with a credit card to obtain a VAT refund or are cash refunds possible if I pay with cash. There are MANY recommendations about paying in shops and restaurants with cash only, esp. in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

Your advice would be appreciated.

Walshcs

Author: ginirn

Joined: 5/2/2012
Posts: 19
GCT Trips Taken: 2
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

US including Hawaii. Ireland twice.

Traveler Since: 2013

March 13, 2014

I tried to get refunds at the Rome airport.  One clerk actually closed the window and walked away when I began to speak to her and spoke only Italian.  Another was just plain rude.  I mailed the paperwork when I got home.  Much less frustrating and time consuming and only cost 80 cents.  The refunds were credited to my credit card.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 541
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 2
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji. Ireland

Traveler Since: 2006

March 14, 2014

The only problem that I've had was Italy. I mailed the paperwork at the airport from two shops and got a refund from only one. A shop in Paris gave me the discount when I made the purchases, but empahsized that I had to turn in the documents or they would charge my credit card. I've did not have a problem in France, and was offered the option of cash or credit in Buenos Aries. I use my credit card for larger purchases and with the exception of B.A. get a credit on my card.

It depends on the country whether you will get cash or credit and almost all countries have rules about the amount that you need to spend in one shop in one day, etc.

Author: walshcs

Joined: 1/25/2011
Posts: 102
GCT Trips Taken: 3
OAT Trips Taken: 1
Countries Visited:

Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Guatemala, the Canadian Maritimes incl. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI, Montreal (Quebec), , and many USA cities incl. NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, the Oregon coast, Maine coast, parts of Florida. I took a 10 day tour to Costa Rica where I was especially thrilled to experience the tropical plants, birds, volcanos, and met the friendly Ticos. I did Ireland in Depth with GCT Oct. 2011 and it was an inspiring, beautiful, and meaningful experience to finally visit the land of my Irish ancestors. Completed the Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast with the pre-trip to Venice April 21, 2012 and it was a travel dream fulfilled. I booked Guatemala with Tikal, Antigua and Atitlan for January 2013 and had a wonderful adventure discovering modern day Maya culture and learning about ancient Maya city states with my visit to Tikal. It was very exciting that OAT brought back the trip to Japan. I had the trip of a lifetime including the pre-trip to Tokyo in Nov. 2013 and even did the Maiko make-over in Kyoto. My friends at home couldn't believe the "20 year old" in the photos of a Geisha were really me. Thank you professional photographer & photo shop! :) The next trip booked for Sept. 2014 is the Best of Eastern Europe (land trip version) and I'm looking forward to history & culture in that region. Now I finally have the resources to pursue my "bucket list" of foreign travel and the freedom to chart my own life's course. Ask questions that will satisfy your requirements/interests in a travel buddy. Looking forward to meeting you here and maybe in the world. Warm regards, Cate I'll post a photo when I remember to bring one from home. (Only have internet at work for now.)

Traveler Since: 2011

March 14, 2014

Thank you! I didn't remember a mail-in option...I will keep an eye out for the needed paperwork. Also...good reminder about needing to spend a certain $$ amount to qualify for the refund.

Walshcs

Author: mary jayne halli...

Joined: 9/25/2010
Posts: 57
GCT Trips Taken: 27
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1989

March 14, 2014

Along with all the other comments, I find when I seem to be departing, it is VERy early in a.m. before they would have the refund office open as I prefer an early departure.  But of course it could be a substantial amount if you REALLY spent.

Author: captainlarry

Joined: 4/24/2010
Posts: 425
GCT Trips Taken: 10
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2002

March 14, 2014

It's probably common knowledge to many of you, but it kind of shocked my friend, Marty, as we were about ready to leave Malta. He was seeing dollar signs in front of his eyes when he looked at the VAT amount on his hotel bill. But...to make a long story short, food and lodging are not eligible for refunds. As it was stated on one of the web sites we consulted, you can get a VAT refund on purchases of something you carry with you when you leave the country. And then, there is the minimum total amount of the purchase and the minimum purchase at one establishment, etc. Best to study up on it before you go rather than try to figure it all out the day you're leaving Germany, or wherever.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 972
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

March 14, 2014

Sometimes, it's just not worth the aggravation of doing it in person if the amount is small.  As Captain Larry just pointed out, the VAT is only good for things you buy that you can carry out.  There are minimum amounts per store and per day, and they seem to change a lot.  It's been a lot of years since I bothered.

Author: porkchop55

Joined: 2/6/2011
Posts: 73
GCT Trips Taken: 6
OAT Trips Taken: 5
Countries Visited:

Vietnam, Cambodia, Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Spain, Turkey, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Tunisia, China, Peru, Canada, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Fiji, American Samoa, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea

Traveler Since: 2004

April 03, 2014

I have done the VAT refund twice and it was different each time.

In Paris they made two credit card charge slips, one for the purchase and one for VAT.   The shop then gave we the form and a self-addressed stamped envelope and told me to get the form stamped at the airport and put in in the mail there.  If they did not get the form in a week or so they would process the charge for the VAT.  

In Venus  the shop gave me the form and said get it stamped and then take it to the Forex money exchange booth in the airport to receive a cash refund.   The drawback to this method is that Forex takes a percentage for their trouble and if you want it in $USD they charge a money exchange fee.

In both cases I had to find the VAT booth, which is located outside of security, before heading to my flight.

It only pays to mess with it if you buy some expensive items, so my advice is stay out of jewelry stores and other shops selling small expensive items.

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