5 Tips to Traveling Tax Free

5 Tax-Free Travel Tips

Frugal travelers not only love great deals on airfare, but they are always on the lookout for steals on the ground, too. One way to save money while traveling overseas is to make tax-free purchases at qualified retailers.

Here are our five favorite tips for traveling tax-free.

1. Look for signs: To find tax-free goods, shop at an authorized, duty-free merchant. Look for signs or stickers in the store window that advertise tax-free shopping or VAT refunds. Common tax-free providers are Global Blue and Premier Tax Free.

2. Shop: Most countries have a minimum purchase requirement for goods to be tax-free. The purchases must be made in one store in one day, and the minimum purchase fee varies by country. See below for the minimum fee in popular travel countries around the globe.

3. Get your paperwork: In order to receive your refund, the store clerk must fill out the required tax forms. Make sure to ask for the forms at checkout. You might be required to show ID, so make sure to bring your passport with you.

4. Get stamped: Once you are at the airport for departure, you must take your purchases to the customs office before you go through security. There, your tax forms will be stamped and you can pack your purchases in your luggage for check-in (except in Australia, where all purchases except for wine and oversized items must be carried on).

5. Get paid: There are a couple of ways to obtain your refund. When doing your shopping, you can pick up a self-addressed, pre-paid envelope from the merchant in which to mail your paperwork and receive a check. Or, after you have made it through airport security, you can visit a tax-free kiosk to receive an immediate refund. Note: refunds do not apply to items you have shipped home.




VAT/GST rate is 10 percent

Wine Equalization Tax is 14.5%

Minimum purchase is US $300 in a single store over a 30-day period



VAT/GST rate is 16.38%

Minimum purchase is $175.01

Average refund is 12% (after administration fee)



VAT/GST is 12.5%

No minimum purchase


VAT/GST is 10%

Minimum purchase is 500,000 rupiah (US $55) on a single receipt



VAT/GST is 16 percent

Minimum purchase is 360 new Shekels (US $100) on a single receipt



VAT/GST rate is 16 to 20%

Minimum purchase is $180



Consumption tax (equivalent to VAT) is 5%

Minimum purchase is 10,001 Yen (US $119) in any single store on any given day

Tip: Refund issued at store where purchase is made



VAT/GST rate is 10%

Minimum purchase is 50,000 won (US $43) in total receipts



VAT/GST rate is 10 to 15 percent (lower in border areas)

Minimum purchase is 1,200 pesos (US $103)



VAT/GST rate is 7%

Minimum purchase is SGD100 (US $76) in any single store on any given day


South Africa

VAT/GST is 14%

Minimum purchase is 250 rand (US $36) in total receipts



VAT/GST is 10 percent

Minimum purchase is 2,000 baht (US $66) on any given day and a total minimum of 5,000 baht (US $166)


United Kingdom

VAT/GST rate is 20%

Minimum purchase is £30

Administration fee is 5%


Published: June 13, 2011