German Customs and Tax refund


German Customs

German Customs Information Centre
Enquiries in English:
Monday - Friday: 08:00am - 05:00pm (MEZ)
Phone: +49 228 303-26040
E-mail: enquiries.english@zoll.de
Further contact options: Customs Information Centre - Contact

Website of the German Customs Information Centre (English Version)

Information for frequently asked questions can be found on the following websites:

Travelling with medicines
Travelling with cash money

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 requirements must be met:

  • You can prove that you live in Australia.
  • The goods were bought in Germany.
  • The goods were transported to Australia in your personal baggage.
  • There is a maximum of 3 months between the purchase of the goods and your departure from Germany.
  • Obtaining the export certificate from the competent customs office was not possible or unreasonable for reasons for which you were not responsible.
  • Goods/goods are for personal, non-commercial use

If the above requirements are met, the responsible German mission abroad can issue the export certificate in exceptional cases. Please bring the following documents with you:

  • The completed application form
  • Your passport used to travel to Germany
  • Flight ticket in your name / proof of the date of the return flight
  • Proof of your place of residence in Australia (e.g. Australian driver's license)
  • The goods purchased in Germany in their original packaging
  • Original invoices with the associated forms filled out by the seller

There is a fee of 34,07 Euro for each individual export paper.

Please read our general information about fees and methods of payment

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