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German Customs and Tax refund

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German Customs

German Customs Infocenter (Zoll-Infocenter)
Information and Knowledge Management Section of the German Customs Administration
Central Information Unit 
Carusufer 3-5 
01099 Dresden 
Inquiries in English: Tel.: 011 49 351/44834-530 Fax: 011 49 351/44834-590 
enquiries.english@zoll.de
Monday-Friday 08:00-17:00 h (MEZ)

Website of the German Customs Infocenter (English Version)

Tax refund from Germany

VAT can be refunded if the merchandise is purchased and exported by a customer whose residence is outside the European Union.

How to get a tax refund from Germany

In Germany the amount paid for merchandise includes 19 % value added tax (VAT). The VAT can be refunded if the merchandise is purchased and exported by a customer whose residence is outside the European Union. Please note that in order to qualify for tax-refund the merchandise has to be exported within three months of purchase.

Before you purchase any goods in Germany you should inform the retailer that you intend to export the goods. With your receipt you will receive a so-called "Ausfuhrbescheinigung" (export papers) or a Tax Free Shopping Check.

When leaving the European Union – through Germany only – the export papers or the Tax Free Shopping Check plus the following documents have to be presented to the Customs Service at the airport (you must leave Germany on a non-stop flight to a country outside the EU):

customs online - tax free shopping

  • the original receipt of the store
  • the purchased goods (unused/unworn in its original packaging and with price tag)
  • and your passport showing residence outside the EU

The export papers will be stamped after the goods have been examined. As you do have to show the goods please make sure that they are in your carry on (your suitcases will already have been checked in!). After having returned to your country of origin, the stamped invoice should be sent back to the store in Germany where the merchandise was purchased. For the Tax Free Shopping Check you may be able to obtain a cash refund if they have an office at the airport. Otherwise the check should be sent to the address on the back of the Tax Free Shopping Check where you will find detailed instructions for the refund. 

Certification by German diplomatic or consular mission (exception)

In very rare exceptional cases a certification by a German diplomatic or consular mission is possible. A plausible explanation has to be given in writing why it was not possible to receive the export stamp at the port of departure from Germany.
The same procedure as at the customs service applies. The following documents have to be presented to a consular officer for inspection:

  • original receipt
  • export papers or Tax Free Shopping Check
  • purchased goods (unused/unworn in its original packaging and with price tag)
  • and your passport together with proof of residency

There is a fee of 25 Euro for each individual export paper. The fee is payable either in cash (equivalent in local currency according to the daily exchange rate), by money order or by internationally accepted credit card (Visa, Master - card will be charged in Euro, additional charges by the credit card company may apply).

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