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VAT refund without the global blue and alike fees?

VAT refund without the global blue and alike fees?

Old Aug 22, 17, 1:44 pm
  #1  
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VAT refund without the global blue and alike fees?

On previous visits my vat refunds were processed by global blue, and their commission was in the 50% mark.

Is there a way to receive the vat refund without the global blue middle-man? isn't there a government agency which is supposed to handle the refunds without the preposterous commissions?.

Thanks
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Old Aug 22, 17, 5:51 pm
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Yup, there's info somewhere in this forum on that - I think I posted it, but can't find it now.

Here's a link from the FCO airport website: http://www.adr.it/documents/10157/10...8-20d3c39e5b9b

It's a PDF in multiple languages.

The short answer, though, is that agencies like Global Blue work because they have more convenient refund locations. I'm guessing they're slightly more lax on other procedure as well, but who knows. At least at FCO, getting the direct refund isn't too difficult. You go to customs before checking in.
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Old Aug 23, 17, 12:55 pm
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I do a lot of shopping in Italy and while Global Blue does take a percentage, I've not seen it anywhere near 50%.

I don't see how you could get the VAT back without one of the refund processing companies involved. The retailer generates the form when you make your purchase and they all have specific VAT refund companies they are affiliated with (i.e. Global Blue, Premier). In all my years of shopping in Italy, I can't recall ever seeing a tax refund form that was just from a retailer and not from one of the refund companies.
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Old Aug 23, 17, 1:48 pm
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Originally Posted by ShopAround View Post
I do a lot of shopping in Italy and while Global Blue does take a percentage, I've not seen it anywhere near 50%.

I don't see how you could get the VAT back without one of the refund processing companies involved. The retailer generates the form when you make your purchase and they all have specific VAT refund companies they are affiliated with (i.e. Global Blue, Premier). In all my years of shopping in Italy, I can't recall ever seeing a tax refund form that was just from a retailer and not from one of the refund companies.
Is it true that if there is a Global Blue or Premier sticker in the window, the store won't charge the VAT in the first place?
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Old Aug 23, 17, 3:00 pm
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Originally Posted by Perche View Post
Is it true that if there is a Global Blue or Premier sticker in the window, the store won't charge the VAT in the first place?
That's never been my experience. They charge the full amount and give you the form, which clearly breaks out the amount of the item, the VAT and the total and at the bottom, the refund you'll receive after the refund company's commission is deducted.
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Old Aug 24, 17, 2:54 am
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ShopAround:

I've also shopped in Italy, and GB commission was around 50%.

They have an online cacluator: http://www.globalblue.com/tax-free-s...nd-calculator/
I've just keyed-in a 200EUR purchase. The VAT rate in Italy is 22%, so the refund should be 44EUR, while the calculator shows a 25EUR refund, or a 12.5%, which is roughly half. The other half is of course GB's fee.

I don't see why a 3rd party must be involved in the process since the VAT is collected and refunded by the government. I understand they charge a premium for a speedy processing that is required, but if one is not in a hurry why pay a commission to a middleman?.
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Old Aug 24, 17, 8:41 am
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Originally Posted by mzzxx11 View Post
ShopAround:

I've also shopped in Italy, and GB commission was around 50%.

They have an online cacluator: http://www.globalblue.com/tax-free-s...nd-calculator/
I've just keyed-in a 200EUR purchase. The VAT rate in Italy is 22%, so the refund should be 44EUR, while the calculator shows a 25EUR refund, or a 12.5%, which is roughly half. The other half is of course GB's fee.

I don't see why a 3rd party must be involved in the process since the VAT is collected and refunded by the government. I understand they charge a premium for a speedy processing that is required, but if one is not in a hurry why pay a commission to a middleman?.
Because it's easy. Instructions are in many languages. You walk up to their airport desk and get your refund. The person will usually speak English if you have questions. That sort of thing.

The DIY route with the Dogana isn't particularly difficult once you know the process, but you have to know the process. Plus I speak Italian so I think I might not even realize the language barrier in the written materials and whichever agent you get. I can see why people use GB and the like - it's very convenient.
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Old Aug 24, 17, 1:09 pm
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I've always used Globalblue because of the tremendous hassle of doing it any other way, although there are ways to do it without paying the steep commission. I usually don't shop the required 159 euros in one day at one store to qualify for the VAT. I do travel to Italy for long periods of time that result in change of seasons, such that I need to buy a sweater or a jacket, or winter turns to summer, and I need shorts, shoes, and different running gear that does reach the 159 euro threshold, but it is seldom.

I spent last month in Rome, and lost my prescription sunglasses just prior to leaving from the USA, so I had to buy new ones over there. The cost was about 850 euros. I still have the Globalblue envelope for the VAT refund. Since medical things like glasses have a lower tax rate, 4% I think, the refund will only be 17 euros, so I haven't gone out of my way to go to the post office and mail it yet.

I will add one piece of advice if you are going to use Global Blue or Premier. By all means, try not to do it at the airport.

Almost every major city has a Global Blue or Premier refund point within the city itself. I learned this the hard way in Milan 4 or 5 years ago when I went to the line at the airport and a tour bus had just gotten there, resulting in about 40 people loaded with shopping bags or luggage carts full of merchandise ahead of me. None of them spoke any language (I won't say which) that the people behind the counter could possibly understand. Their tour guide had only a few italian phrases at her command. It was taking 10 minutes to process each person, so I gave up, and went to the lounge.

The airport, with all of the stress of delays and unpredictable check in and security lines related to flying, is not the place to process your VAT refund because it just adds more time and stress to the process. Do it before, in the city, where there is usually no line.

For example, in Venice, literally 5 yards from Piazza San Marco there is a place that will process your Global Blue refund on the spot. The last time I used it there was a group of 4-5 people who could not speak any language that the people behind the counter could understand. They did not have the receipt, forms, or anything prepared. I waved my Global Blue form to the ladies behind the counter from behind them. The lady waved me to the counter and I slid the form, receipt, and my passport under the glass. In about 30 seconds she slid the euros and my passport back to me, and gave me something she told me to put in the mail, which I went outside and threw in the trash. At the airport in Venice I'm sure I would have been stuck in an hour long line.

About a year and a half ago I was leaving Rome and I had some VAT money coming back to me. There is no way that I want to leave this to the last minute at the airport, with unpredictable lines. There is a place about 15 yards from the Pantheon that will process Global Blue Refund on the spot. It isn't obvious because they don't have a sign. In fact, I asked a police officer where it was, and she said she had no idea. I looked around and realized that both she and I were standing 10 feet from it. The only sign says that they make change, then I saw the little Global Blue authorized refund point sticker in the window, and the transaction took less than a minute. I was the only one at the counter, and this was about 8 O'clock in the evening, when that area is packed with people.

There is an authorized Global Blue Refund Point right in front of the Spanish Steps so if you go shopping on Via Condotti, where you will definitely hit your 159 euro per day at a single store spend the street ends at the Spanish Steps, and you can get your refund right there, immediately after you made your purchase, rather than waiting for an unpredictable amount of time at the airport.

My suggestion would be, don't do it at the airport. Do it in the city, before you leave. Otherwise, you will likely have a tour bus full of people in front of you, laden with shopping bags, unable to speak to the people behind the counter.

There are five instant Global Blue refund places in Venice, three practically in Piazza San Marco. In n Florence there are five instant Global Blue refund spots right in the historic center. In Rome, Milan, Naples, Torino, Como, Bari, and almost every other city, there are many instant VAT refund sites. Don't wait to do it at the airport when you may already be stressed by the lines.

Last edited by Perche; Aug 24, 17 at 10:00 pm
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Old Aug 27, 17, 8:04 am
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There is a semi-government organization called confcommercio. They can help you to find the best solution for you. Its available in all the cities of Italy or you can get the direct access from online through their websites.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 9:46 am
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Originally Posted by alisyed8 View Post
There is a semi-government organization called confcommercio. They can help you to find the best solution for you. Its available in all the cities of Italy or you can get the direct access from online through their websites.
That's just a business union. They have nothing to do with VAT refund.
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Old Sep 3, 17, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by Perche View Post
That's just a business union. They have nothing to do with VAT refund.
Well i have visited them personally. I believe if confcommercio has not this option then try with confartigianato. They mostly help in these issues.
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Old Sep 3, 17, 9:20 am
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Originally Posted by alisyed8 View Post
Well i have visited them personally. I believe if confcommercio has not this option then try with confartigianato. They mostly help in these issues.
I think you may be confusing IVA refund to a consumer and IVA regulation/abatement/exemption for small businesses. This thread is regarding consumers receiving an IVA refund for goods purchased by a non-EU resident and intended for personal consumption outside the EU.
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Old Sep 3, 17, 4:23 pm
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Originally Posted by PWMTrav View Post
I think you may be confusing IVA refund to a consumer and IVA regulation/abatement/exemption for small businesses. This thread is regarding consumers receiving an IVA refund for goods purchased by a non-EU resident and intended for personal consumption outside the EU.
This is a confusing topic isn't it? Here is my imperfect understanding of it. In the USA each city has a sales tax. In San Francisco it's 8.5%. In NYC I think it's about 8.9%.

Italy doesn't let every city set its own sales tax rate. It has a national sales tax, and the current rate is 20%.

IVA and VAT are the same thing. It's just in the translation. IVA = Imposta sul Valore Aggiunta. In english, I guess I'd translate that into, "tax on top of the value of the thing." But others have done a better translating job, and translate IVA into VAT = Value Added Tax. Same thing.

I agree with PWMTrav that there seems to be some confusion here. alisyed8 has made some excellent comments. But Confcommercio is a business union, and part of what it does is to help businesses trim their taxes. Confartigianato is a similar thing. It's a small business association. It helps small businesses get started by arranging tax breaks.

That is generally not what VAT refund means for traveling. By law, if you are traveling in Italy and you are not an EU citizen, you do not have to pay the 20% sales tax. That means that you should always get things on sale at 20% off, if it meets a price threshold. Incredible! Italian bureaucracy just doesn't make it easy to do.

There are a few hitches to the process because anything bureaucratic in Italy is a pain. For example, when Italy passed the law that foreigners don't have to pay sales tax, Italian currency was still in lira. The law said that you don't have to pay sales tax if you buy something that costs more than 300,000 lira. Those were the days when you'd stop at a bar and a cup of coffee was 2,000 lira.

They haven't changed the law since then, and 300,000 lira is worth 154.94 euros today. If you go into a store and spend more than 154.94 euros you don't have to pay the 20% sales tax if you are not an EU citizen. You get a 31 euro refund, minus some commissions.

I've bought running shoes and would purchase a pair of running socks I didn't need just to get over the 154.94 euros bar, which reduced the price of the running shoes by 20%. If you go to a store and buy a pair of pants for 154.93 euros, you will not be entitled to get the 20% sales tax back. You will have missed it by one cent.

Here is the tricky part. The store fills out papers and you show that you have a foreign passport. That's usually going to be on a Gobal Blue form, a private company, and they take a cut. Then to redeem it you go to customs, and they take a 5-10% cut.

I'm pretty sure that if you wanted to, you can just take your receipt and the merchandise you bought down to the local Dogana, or Customs Office, and get most of the 20% sales tax back. In Venice, for example, the Dogana is at the tip of Dorsoduro, which is a little down from the Peggy Guggenheim museum.

There is always some new piece of sculpture in front of it. It was a frog for the last few years, and that made Venetians very unhappy. I kayaked to Ponte della Dogano 5-6 weeks ago, because to get to Venice you have to kayak across a busy stretch of windy, wavy open water, and Ponte della Dogana is the first place where you can stop paddling and rest after 30 minutes of work.

They had just put a new sculpture in front for the Biennale that is going on right now, but after dodging monster cruise ships I wasn't looking for the latest sculpture at Ponte Della Dogana. But I bet that if I went in there with my receipts and merchandise, after they stopped laughing, I would get the sales tax back in euros, and the Customs office would take only a 5-10% as a fee. That would be cheaper than Global Blue. That's just my guess, but it's the cheapest way to do it by cutting out a middle person.

If you want to read up about going to the Dogana for the maximum refund on the sales tax that you don't have to pay, here is the webpage. Just click on the english version on the upper right. https://www.agenziadoganemonopoli.gov.it/portale/

After dealing with Italian bureaucracy, you would probably need to spend as much as you have saved on the 20% tax on a sedative, or a strong drink.

Then you have Global Blue. Bring a photocopy of your passport if you are going to shop. Never carry your passport when walking around in Italy. Store it in the hotel, and just carry a photocopy. If you go into a store and you hit the 154.94 euro mark, tell them you want the VAT refund. The stores that do this usually, but not always, have the Global Blue sticker in the window. If they do not, and they say they are not affiliated with Global Blue (or the minor alternative company whose name I do not remember), and they do not have any of the papers, you still do not have to pay the 20% sales tax if you are not an EU citizen.

On at least a half a dozen occasions when I was going to spend a significant amount like 1,000 euros or more I've gone into a store and they said they weren't affiliated with Global Blue, and didn't have the papers. I would show them a copy of my American passport (not my Italian passport) and tell them that if they don't process Global Blue, I want a 20% discount, because I'm not supposed to pay the sales tax. They would always counter, "OK, we will do it, but only if you pay in cash." And that's what I have always done. That has never failed. I don't do it in a brazen way, but sort of at the shops closing time. In other words, I'm not paying you the 20% sales tax that you are not entitled to, that you are going to put into your pocket and keep, although I don't say that.

I'm sure that others know more about this than I do, but I've never heard of the Global Blue fee being 50%. I suspect it has to do with what you are buying, where you are redeeming it, and how many middle-people you go through.

If you are buying a fabulous painting for many thousands of dollars, maybe you don't want to go through Global Blue to get your 20% back and give them a cut. You might want to go the Dogana, or Customs Office for that. Of course, if it's that big of a purchase when you get back to your home country, if it's the USA they will hit you with a tax when you arrive.

But to go to the Dogana because you bought a $200 pair of jeans, instead of using Global Blue just to save a few euros isn't worth your time and effort. Do it in the city or in the store.

i know that there are some stores that have stickers in the window that say something like, "Tax Free Network Store." They must by law charge you the 20% Italian tax, but then they hand you a check for 20% back at the same time that you redeem at any Customs office. I know there are also some stores, but I don't know how to find them, where everything is done at the counter, and the refund comes on your credit card and you don't have to do anything.

Always do whatever you can do to get the refund put back on your credit card rather than them handing you euros, unless you are going back to Europe soon. Otherwise, you'll have to go to one of those den of thieves places like Thomas Cook to convert your euros into your local non-EU currency, and they are going to take 30% of the money in hidden fees, no matter what the advertisement says.

When you get your VAT refund, they will ask if you want it in cash or put on your credit card. Unless you are going back to the EU soon, always choose on the credit card. I came back from Italy July 25th, and suspected that the US dollar was going to tank. It was going at about 1.04 dollars per euro. I took about 500 euros out of the ATM, just in case. Now the dollar is so weak that it is at 1.19 per euro, meaning you have to spend almost 19% more to buy anything if coming from the USA, which offsets the VAT refund.

Tell them to put the refund on your credit card. If they ask, "do you want us to put it in dollars, or in euros?" Always say in euros, never in dollars. Many times if you buy something in a store you hand them your credit card and they ask if you want to be charged in dollars or euros. Always say in euros. That way your credit card company makes the conversion at the correct rate at no fee, rather than the store charging its own completely made up ridiculous rate, where they might say that $1.40 equals one euro, and add a surcharge conversion fee. Always say you want to pay in euros, and let your credit card company deal with it.

I live there enough that I may buy a pair of shoes, a shirt, pants, and usually don't hit the 155 euro mark in a day, but this is about what I know about the process; it's a pain in the butt to do it at the airport when a tour bus just arrived in front of you and is in a line, and there are long lines at security, and your plane is leaving in an hour.

Take care of it in the city before going to the airport. There are Global Blue stores all over in most of the major cities. Don't leave it as something to do at the airport. That's the most important thing in my opinion: don't leave it as something to do at the airport.

I'm pretty sure that others know more about this than I do, because I always travel with nothing but a small carry on and don't buy a lot of things so I only use the VAT refund process occasionally. But this is a really important topic. If you can find a store that advertises, VAT Off Service, then you never have to pay the 20%. You just get the 20% off when you buy. If you are a big spender going to Italy, there is some type of card called Shop Tax Free Card, or something like that, and it means that whenever you go into a store that offers Global Blue, which just about means anyplace, you get the 20% deduction on the spot, or something like that. Although I live there about half the time it seems, I don't have it, but that's my understanding of it. Others may know more.
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Last edited by Perche; Sep 4, 17 at 12:42 am
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Old Sep 5, 17, 10:43 am
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Originally Posted by mzzxx11 View Post
ShopAround:

I've also shopped in Italy, and GB commission was around 50%.

They have an online cacluator: http://www.globalblue.com/tax-free-s...nd-calculator/
I've just keyed-in a 200EUR purchase. The VAT rate in Italy is 22%, so the refund should be 44EUR, while the calculator shows a 25EUR refund, or a 12.5%, which is roughly half. The other half is of course GB's fee.

I don't see why a 3rd party must be involved in the process since the VAT is collected and refunded by the government. I understand they charge a premium for a speedy processing that is required, but if one is not in a hurry why pay a commission to a middleman?.
I think the "rough" estimate of 50% suffers from both approximation and error.

First, 25 refunded on 44 euros is actually 56.8% refunded and 43.2% cost. So, 50% is an exaggerated approximation.

More importantly, the 22% VAT is not 44Ä. Rather, it is Ä36.07 which is 22% of Ä163.93. The Ä200 price is the items COST marked up by 22%. The VAT is not 22% of the sticker but rather ~18%.

That said, Global Blue does take a bite (albeit, I believe, smaller the more you spend).


As an aside, my wife wanted to pick up a synthetic Prada purse at the Marche outlet store in July (they are lighter than leather bags and still have some style). She ended up with a travel/computer attache that was 550Ä - a deal vs. sticker of 1300 or so. The server that processes the detax would just not work so they finally just knocked the VAT off the sticker and charged us that. Good deal for us. We got all of the refund, no paperwork hassle and my wife could use the bag immediately (technically you are not supposed to until you leave the country).
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Old Jul 17, 19, 12:37 am
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So Iíve been able to go around global blue but only for larger purchases. The Audemars Pigeut store processes it themselves. So when you buy a $20000 watch youíre getting back almost all of the VAT. But I can see why they donít do it for smaller purchases. I just went to Bvgari to get some for the the wife. The 3000 and 5000 euro necklaces get 12 percent back but the 6500+ ones get 15 percent back.
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