General information on German VAT refunds
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 to the United Kingdom. With your receipt you will receive a so-called “Ausfuhrbescheinigung” (export papers) or a Tax Free Shopping Check.
When leaving the European Union – on a non-stop flight to the UK – the export papers or the Tax Free Shopping Check plus
- 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
have to be presented to the Customs Service at the airport. 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 luggage (your suitcases will already have been checked in!).
After having returned to the UK 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, you might get the export papers certified by a German diplomatic or consular mission. 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.
If you believe that such an exceptional case applies to you, please check here if you live in the London or the Edinburgh consular district.
Then, please contact the relevant German mission so that we can check your request:
For applicants living in the London consular district please select the following topic: Embassy London: Certifications
For applicants living in the Edinburgh consular district please select the following topic: Consulate General Edinburgh: All other enquiries
Please do not book an appointment before you receive a confirmation message from us.