Retail export scheme

Who can use the scheme?

The following persons may use the scheme:

  • tourists or travellers visiting the State from countries outside the European Union (EU)
  • Irish or EU citizens who are leaving to take up residence outside the EU for at least 12 consecutive months.

Who cannot use the scheme?

The following persons may not use the scheme:

  • any person normally resident in the State or in another EU State
  • tourists or travellers from other EU States
  • foreign nationals resident in this State who travel abroad, but intend to return to the State
  • Irish or EU citizens who take up residence outside of the EU for less than 12 consecutive months
  • Irish or EU citizens who, having taken up residence outside the EU for 12 consecutive months, return on a visit within those first 12 months. This includes return visits for holidays or business, within those first 12 months.

How do you get a refund of Value-Added Tax (VAT)?

Revenue does not make refunds to tourists or travellers under the retail export scheme. It is the retailer or VAT refund agent who will make the VAT refund to you, on receipt of proof of export.

Before making a purchase, you should confirm with the retailer that they operate the scheme as not all retailers do so. You should also clarify whether the retailer operates the scheme in its own right, or in conjunction with a VAT refund agent.

If you use a retailer who operates the scheme, you will receive an export voucher in respect of each purchase. Vouchers, other than vouchers for high value goods, should be left in the drop-box at the airport for certification. The certified voucher will then be returned to the retailer. The retailer will accept the certified voucher as proof of export and will then be in a position to issue the refund.

When making a purchase you must prove to the retailer that you are a tourist or traveller by providing:

  • evidence of your place of residence
  • your inbound and outbound flight dates
  • a signed declaration confirming that you are a tourist or traveller and will export the goods within the terms of the scheme.

If you use a refund agent, you must follow their specific procedures at time of purchase. Other than in the case of high value goods, you should, as you exit the State, deposit your documentation for purchases with the agent. The refund agent will make the necessary refund to you within 25 working days once the documentation is complete.

Some VAT refund agents use a card to capture details of each purchase. Such cards are swiped at the point of sale each time a tourist or traveller makes a qualifying purchase. You should follow the specific procedures as set out by the agent.

Customs may check to ensure that the goods are being exported, so it is important that they are easily available for inspection, if required.

See section ‘On what purchases can you reclaim VAT?’ for information on high value goods.

Next: On what purchases can you reclaim VAT?