Shopping is a big part of every trip overseas: Exploring new fashion, or cool brands that do not exist in your hometown can be of great fun. But saving money on your shopping is even greater fun.
As the primary Sales season in Belgium is in January and July and sometimes in-between, this leaves you little time to enjoy it. But did you know that non-EU tourists in Belgium can save a lot of money all year round, even when there are no sales to be found, thanks to tax-free shopping scheme, or in other words – the VAT refund scheme. This scheme can be found in over 50 countries worldwide, particularly in the European Union, where it is mandatory based on its charter. Thanks to the VAT refund scheme, tourists can get back the VAT they paid on their shopping and enjoy a constant discount! Considering the VAT is 21% in Belgium, getting it back can be a lot of money.
What is VAT?
VAT, or value-added tax, is a tariff placed on most goods and services and is part of the price you see before you make a purchase. It is different from the US sales tax when the amount is added at the register.
In Belgium, the VAT rate is 21% or 6% for chocolate and books.
What purchases qualify for a refund?
VAT refunds apply to purchases of goods that are taken out of the country unused. This includes clothes, electronics, toys, etc. Services such as hotels, transportation, tickets to attractions, etc. do not qualify. The same goes for most foodstuffs.
How can I get a VAT refund in Belgium?
The old school refund agencies would ask for special forms to be filled out and that all receipts be stamped at Customs counter at the airport. For that, you would have, in most, to stand in long and annoying lines to stamp the receipts at Customs counter at the airport before you left the country. Sounds like a lot of work? Research shows that 90% of the VAT that should be refunded to non-EU tourists does not reach its rightful owners because they just give up on the money.
But there is a new solution for that. The new all-digital solution, Refundit‘s mobile app, offers a shorter and easier way for tax-free shopping, with no need to fill out lengthy forms or stand in line at Customs. Another advantage of the Refundit app is that now you can get the VAT refund for shopping at any store! If that wasn’t enough, here’s another thing to consider: as the old school tax-free shopping agencies charge 30%-60% of the refund, Refundit charges a transparent and constant fee of 9%. That’s all! This means that if you purchased in a store at the amount of 200 Euros, you practically pay only 168 Euros – therefore receive a 16% discount! And you will see it at your credit card within 15 minutes upon approval!
You can also check how big your VAT refund is going to be in advance on our calculator.
Are there any special requirements?
Yes. You can shop ‘til you drop, but make sure to meet the minimum requirement in Belgium, which is 125 Euros per receipt. Also, you must be a non-EU resident. At the moment, the Refundit service is available for non-EU tourists leaving from Brussels airport, but it will be available shortly in other countries.
To find out what are the VAT rates in the EU, click here.