Retail export scheme

How do refund agents operate the scheme?

A Value-Added Tax (VAT) refund agent provides a tourist or traveller with a refund of VAT incurred on qualifying goods, subject to the conditions of the scheme.

The refund agent may act:

  • as the principal in relation to the supply of goods to the tourist or traveller
  • or
  • as an agent of the tourist or traveller.

The process by which the refund is provided to the tourist or traveller will differ depending on whether the refund agent is a principal or an agent of the tourist or traveller. 

The VAT refund agent where acting as principal

The refund agent, where acting as a principal, makes a purchase of the goods from the retailer and immediately sells those goods to the tourist or traveller.

Such refund agents will enter into agreements with the retailers to facilitate them acting as principals in this manner. As the refund agent in this scenario, you will refund the VAT to the tourist or traveller. You will process the claim for a refund of VAT under the same conditions as apply to a retailer. 

Where you receive prior approval from Revenue, you can issue a ‘card’ to the tourist or traveller to record details of all qualifying goods purchased by that tourist or traveller. The card should have the capacity to record all the details required for the operation of the scheme. The card must also be capable of reproducing these details to allow for the certification by the Customs Officer that the goods have been exported.

You must make the refund to the tourist or traveller not later than 25 working days from the time you receive the information necessary to process the claim.

What exchange rate should you use?

Where a refund is being made in a currency other than Euro, the rate of exchange you should use is either:

  • the official rate of exchange as published by the Central Bank of Ireland for the date on which the refund is paid
  • or 
  • the official monthly average rate of exchange as published by the Central Bank of Ireland for the month in which the refund is paid.

Alternatively, you may use other internationally recognised exchange rate sources, subject to agreement with your Revenue office.

VAT refund agent where acting as an agent of the tourist or traveller?

The VAT refund agent is acting as an agent of the tourist or traveller when engaged to obtain a refund of VAT on qualifying purchases, from the retailer, on behalf of that tourist or traveller. The agent must, in these circumstances, advise the tourist or traveller of the full requirements necessary for them to obtain a refund.

Fees charged by a refund agent to the tourist or traveller

The tourist or traveller must be advised in advance of any fees which will be charged by the refund agent. This advice must state the amount of the fee to be charged or how that fee will be calculated. The provision of this advice as part of the sign on process on your website will be sufficient to meet this requirement.

Next: Certification of export