Travellers leaving the EU
VAT export refund scheme
Visitors from outside the EU are entitled to get a refund of VAT paid on goods they have purchased during their stay in the EU provided that the goods are produced to Customs on departure from the EU together with the VAT refund documents. These documents are normally prepared by the merchant from whom the goods have been purchased, and the refund is made directly by the merchant, rather than the customs service.
In many countries, commercial firms act as agents for the merchants. Generally, merchants or the commercial companies charge for this service by making a deduction from the refund. As the refund scheme is voluntary, travellers should check that the merchant participates in the scheme before the goods are purchased.
- Visitors must provide proof of their residence status (e.g. non-EU passport)
- Goods must be exported from the EU within 3 months of their purchase
- Minimum value of purchases to qualify for refund
Tax and duty free sales
Travellers holding a valid ticket for a destination outside the EU (and certain areas within the EU, such as the Canary Islands ) can buy goods free of duty and tax in so-called "tax-free shops" in airports and ports. There are no limits as to the quantity or value of the goods that can be purchased duty and tax free. Travellers should however bear in mind that the importation of these goods in the country of destination will be subject to duty and tax allowances, similar to those applying to travellers that enter the EU from a non Member State.
Travelling with € 10 000 or more in cash
As from 15 June 2007, travellers entering or leaving the EU and carrying €10 000 or more in cash (or its equivalent in other currencies or easily convertible assets such as cheques drawn on a third party) have to make a declaration to the customs authorities.
This follows the entry into force of a new European Regulation aimed at fighting money laundering, and the financing of terrorism. Customs authorities are empowered under the Regulation to undertake controls on individuals, their baggage and their means of transport and detain cash that has not been declared.
Travellers must be aware that all Member States apply penalties in the event of failure to comply with the obligation to declare as laid down in the Regulation. Some Member States may apply additional measures according to their national legislation (e.g. intra-community cash controls).
Travelling by air: baggage controls in the European Union
You may find background information on baggage controls of passengers entering or leaving the EU in this information document.