The standard VAT rate in Germany is 19%. Germany will reimburse between 11.4% and 13.6% of the amount you spend during your trip on products subject to standard VAT rates. The minimum purchase threshold is 25 EUR.
On this page, by entering the amount you spent, you can find out approximately how much of a VAT refund you can get.
Note: Exact Germany tax-free refund calculations may vary according to the company you work with. Therefore, the values on this page are approximate.
Products Subject to Lower VAT Rates:
Items for which VAT Refunds Do Not Apply:
Who Can Benefit from Tax-free Shopping in Germany?
- If you have a permanent residence in a non-EU country.
- If you have a valid long-term visa (over 3 months) for a non-EU country.
- If you are older than 18.
- Germany has lower minimum spending requirements than many other countries.
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How are Tax-free Refunds Calculated in Germany?
It can be difficult to figure out exactly how much you will be reimbursed in Germany and other countries that offer tax-free shopping. We have created this page in an effort to help you navigate this topic. First of all, to find out how much your tax-free refund will be, there are 2 things you need to know:
- The VAT rate in Germany
- The VAT status of the product you purchased
We will use an example to try to explain how much your tax-free refund will be. Germany applies a 19% VAT rate to its products. In other words, of a 1200 EUR purchase, 192 EUR of that purchase actually go towards tax.Therefore, you should theoretically get 192/1200 or 16% of your tax-free purchase back; however it is not possible to fully recover this entire amount.
Another thing you need to know when calculating your tax-free refund in Germany is that you need to work with an intermediary refund agent in order to get your tax-free payment. Although throughout Europe Planet Payment and Global Blue are the 2 most popular companies in this regard, other companies may mediate local or smaller tax-free transactions and can vary by country.
The commission these intermediary companies receive may also affect the amount you can get back. These companies usually deduct a percentage from the total refund you will receive. The higher the prices of the products you buy, the lower the deduction percentage will be.
Since the commission received by tax-free refund agents can vary from company to company, this page will help guide you in how to calculate tax-free refunds in Germany. The total amount you receive back will depend on the company, whether you want your refund in cash, and whether the payout credited to your account will be subject to currency conversions.
The Tax-free Guide to Germany: How to Get a Tax-free Refund
The 4 steps necessary in Germany to get tax back on your shopping:
- Choose stores that offer tax-free shopping.
- Have the necessary tax-free forms filled out at the store.
- Get your tax-free form verified by customs at the airport.
- Visit the airport offices of the tax refund company you work with.
Once you have completed these 4 steps, you will be able to receive your tax-free refund from Germany. Thus, you will get the products you bought in Germany for even less. Let's take a look at each of these steps more closely.
Choosing a Shop that is Tax-free
Generally when you shop large, global brands, these brands will have tax-free agreements and the paperwork should be no problem. Our suggestion in this regard is to ask whether it is possible to get a VAT refund when you enter the store. You can make the process easier by choosing stores with the words "Tax-free" located on their showcases.
Completing the Required Tax-free Form at the Store
At this stage, all you have to do is mention that you are a visitor from abroad and would like to benefit from tax-free shopping. The store clerk will prepare the necessary documents to be filled out in the store. All you will have to do is sign the documents.
Get Your Form Verified by Customs at the Airport in Germany
You must have your tax-free form approved by customs before you leave the country. The customs officer may want to check the products you purchased. According to tax-free regulations, all products bought in Germany need to remain unused until they have left the country. It may take some time to process your tax-free refund at the airport. Therefore, we recommend that you be at the airport a minimum of 1 hour in advance of your usual arrival time.
Visit the Airport Offices of the Tax Refund Company You Work With
After your tax-free form has been approved, you need to go to the office of the tax refund company you are working with to receive your tax-free refund. If you are departing from a large airport, you can simply locate their offices via either the company’s or the airport’s website.
Here you will need to fill out a form stating how you want to receive your tax-free refund payment. You can get it refunded to your credit card once you return to your country, or you can ask to receive cash at the airport by paying extra commission. Cash tax-free refunds are not available at all airports. However, if using a heavily-trafficked airport in Germany, you should be able to receive payment in cash.
Other Things to Know About Tax-free Refunds in Germany
Tax-free refunds are available to people traveling to Germany for touristic purposes. In other words, if you have a residence permit for the country you are visiting, getting a refund will not be possible.
There is a minimum purchase threshold you need to reach to get a tax-free refund. You cannot get tax-free reimbursement for expenses below this limit. The minimum purchase threshold is calculated per invoice. That is to say, if you make multiple separate purchases below the minimum threshold, even if the total exceeds the minimum threshold, you will not be able to get tax-free compensation.
Refunds for tax-free purchases in Germany are only valid for VAT. You can also deduct the VAT fees applied to the commission charged by your tax refund company.