Tax Free Shopping
Visitors to Ireland from non-EU countries can claim back sales taxes on purchases made in Ireland.
Value Added Tax or VAT, a form of sales tax, which is added to almost all goods for sale in Ireland, is only payable by those who live in the EU.
Since Ireland’s VAT rate is high, 21% on most items, claiming VAT back is equivalent to getting a reduction of 17.36% on the displayed price of items in stores – a very worthwhile reduction indeed.
However there is some effort involved on your part in claiming back the tax, and the process can be complicated, this guide will help you to understand what you need to do.
The following points are important:
- VAT is already added to the price of goods you see in stores in Ireland, it is not added afterwards at the till, unlike for example sales taxes in the USA.
- VAT is only refunded for the purchase of goods, not services, so you cannot claim back any VAT you paid for accommodation, entrance charges, meals, guides, car hire etc.
- Some goods in Ireland are sold free of vat, for example children’s clothing and footwear, books and food (excluding things like chocolates or other confectionery).
Since you pay no VAT when purchasing these, you obviously cannot claim any back!
- There are NO refund desks in Ireland other than at Dublin and Shannon Airports, so if you leave at another airport or by sea, it is more difficult to claim a refund.
- There is no minimum or maximum amount you can claim.
THE GOLDEN RULE!
Keep all the forms you are issued with when you purchase goods. Store them carefully. Without them you cannot claim your money back. Refunds will not be made on store receipts.
Ways to Shop Tax-Free in Ireland
Method 1: Ship Your Purchases Home
Many stores will offer to pack and mail your purchases home for you, and if you opt for this service you will not be charged VAT when you pay for them. You will have to pay the cost of shipping.
- Pros: Convenient, and unlike the methods below usually goes very smoothly.
- Cons: Shipping can be expensive, possibly more expensive than just paying the tax! Not all stores will offer this service.
Method 2: Use Global Blue (was Global Refund) to Claim Back Tax
Where you see either of the symbols above, and you will see it a lot, you can avail of the Global Blue system to reclaim VAT. You do not need to register in advance or to do anything before you travel in order to use Global Blue.
It works as follows.
A. Make a Purchase
When you make a purchase in a store displaying the symbol ask for a Tax Refund Cheque. The store will issue you with a cheque, made out for the total amount of VAT on your purchases. You will need to fill in the following details on each cheque you recieve:
- Your name and address
- Arrival and departure dates
- Passport number
B. Have your Cheques stamped by Customs
Take your cheques, your purchases, all receipts and your passport to the customs desk in the Airport to have them stamped and validated. Obviously you need to do this before checking in, so it’s important to get to the airport on time.
C. Claim Your Refund
You have two options for doing this:
- Get a refund at the Airport
Take the stamped Tax Refund Cheques to the Global Blue desk at Shannon or Dublin Airport (see details below) and you will be given the option of either receiving your refund in cash, having it mailed to you or having it refunded to your credit card. This is the best method .
- Claim your Refund by Mail
When you return home, mail them to Global Blue, using a prepaid envelope (provided in stores). You can opt to have them mail you your refund or to refund your credit card.
If you forget or are unable to have your cheques stamped by customs, don’t panic! You can have them authorised by a Notary Public or similar on your return home instead. But remember – they are only valid for 90 days after they have been issued.
When claiming a refund in the airport, you can opt to have it paid in one of several currencies. This may seem a good idea but you will pay a €1 additional charge and will probably also get a very poor exchange rate. It is usually better to accept the refund in Euro and change it later, or to have the money refunded to your credit card.
- Pros You get your money back with relatively little fuss if it all goes smoothly.
- Cons You pay a fee to Global Blue of about 2% of the total value of goods purchased; thus your refund will amount to around 15% of the ticket price of goods.
Not all stores are part of the Global Blue scheme.
It can be nigh on impossible to get the custom stamps and get to the global blue desk in the airport – a feat made even more difficult by the short hours during which the global blue desk is open.
When claiming a refund at the airport, it will only be issued to the person named on the cheque. So if you are travelling as a couple or in a family group, have all cheques made out to one person, so that only that person has to line up to claim the refund. It will save a lot of time.
Global Blue Offices in Ireland
Pier C, Terminal West, Dublin Airport, Dublin (open 7 days, 7am-4pm)
Dutyfree Hall, Departures Area, Shannon Airport, Shannon (open 7 days, 8am-4pm)
Note: There are other companies offering a similar service, the main one being TaxBack, but their services are aimed primarily at business and corporate travellers and are less convenient to use for ordinary visitors.
Method 3: Buy at Stores Operating the ‘Money Back’ System
This system is also run by Global Blue, but the difference is you do not pay the VAT at the time of purchase, it is deducted at point of sale by the retailer, less a 2% service charge.
There are some important points to be aware of when availing of this system:
- In order to avail of this system you must pay for your goods by credit card
- You will be given a form as a record of your purchase.
- These forms may be handed in at the Global Blue desk in the airport or mailed to Global Refunds within a defined period (usually 60 days)
- If you fail to return your form, the VAT will be charged to your credit card.
Obviously it is very important that you retain and return the forms you receive.
- Pros It’s very convenient.
- Cons Not available in all stores. You must remember to return your forms.