Retail export scheme

On what purchases can you reclaim VAT?

Any purchases of goods that come within the definition of tourists or travellers qualifying goods, are allowable under the scheme.

These are goods carried in the personal luggage of a tourist or traveller which are supplied within the State to a tourist or traveller. The goods must be exported by, or on behalf of, that tourist or traveller by the last day of the third month following the month the supply occurs. Goods for the equipping, fuelling and provisioning of pleasure boats, private aircraft or other means of transport for private use are excluded from the scheme.

Refunds can be obtained on purchases of goods, such as souvenirs and gifts. These goods must be bought for non-business purposes, and carried in your personal luggage. You must export the goods by the last day of the third month following the month in which you purchased the goods.

What purchases are not allowable under the scheme?

The scheme only covers goods. No refund can be obtained for goods that remain in the State. Services, such as hotel accommodation, car-hire or restaurant meals are not within the scheme.

Value of the goods under the scheme

You are entitled to get the Value-Added Tax (VAT) back regardless of the value of the goods purchased. However, separate processing provisions apply to high value goods.

Special procedures for high value goods 

For individual goods costing €2,000 or more (including VAT), each item must be presented to Customs, along with the export voucher. This is necessary before any VAT refund will be certified.

Receipts or vouchers for high value goods, left in the drop-box, or handed in to refund agents, will not be subsequently stamped by Customs. Tourists or travellers who wish to obtain VAT refunds on these items, should allow enough time, following check-in, to attend Customs with the item. 

Note

Where vouchers for such items are not stamped by Customs, it will not be possible for the retailer of refund agent to process your refund.

In the case of transit passengers departing the EU via another airport within 24 hours, Irish Customs will stamp the export vouchers for goods valued at €2,000 or more (including VAT). In all other instances involving high value goods, Customs may defer certification to the final point of departure from the EU.

What is the 'VAT Off' refund scheme?

Certain retailers or retail agents have been authorised by Revenue to operate a 'VAT Off' scheme. This allows you to receive the goods free of VAT at the point of purchase. The operation of the scheme is subject to certain requirements and conditions as advised to you by the individual retailer. It is the mutual responsibility of the retailer, the refund agent and the tourist or traveller to ensure that the full requirements and conditions are met.

Next: How do retailers operate the scheme?