Tax Free

Traveling to Germany? How about having some cash returned, maybe a few hundreds of Euros, on your shopping there? Being a part of the European Union (EU), it is one of the tax-free countries for people visiting from outside Europe. But, to take full advantage of tax-free Germany, you should follow some rules and regulations. Also, it’s important to know about Germany VAT rate and duty-free allowance. 

Tax-Free Germany – A Guide to Tax-Free Shopping for Foreigners

As a non-EU visitor, you are exempted from sales tax on the goods while shopping in Germany. There is an opportunity for duty-free shopping at airports when you are about to leave the country. 

Enjoy the sales tax refunds on goods when you are a:

  • Non-EU country resident
  • Traveler with a residence permit valid not more than 3 months

The exemption will be applicable for goods you export in your personal baggage within three months. 

How much is VAT in Germany? As a part of tax-free Europe, Germany follows the EU VAT compliance rules. The consumers have to pay 19% sales tax on all taxable goods and services. Some specific products including water supplies, audiobooks, some foodstuffs, social services, and several other things require 7% VAT. 

Tax-Free Germany: How does it Work in Practice?

You must meet some conditions and follow some rules as a foreigner who wants the purchased goods and products remain free of taxes. Remember that you have to pay in full amount including the turnover tax for any product. The merchandiser will return the turnover tax upon receiving the required proofs. To get the advantage of tax-free Germany:

  1. Purchase from stores with a Tax-Free sticker.
  2. A completed tax-free Formular (form) is mandatory to prove that the purchased products are for non-commercial export. Ask at the store’s cash desk area for the form and fill it up with your signature on it.
  3. You cannot open or use the purchased items until having the customs stamp on them confirming that these are export of goods. When you are at the airport to leave Germany, inform about the tax-free goods at the Check-In. Show the customs office the purchased goods, the tax-free voucher, receipts, boarding pass, and your passport. If everything checks out, you will receive a customs stamp. 
  4. Then, claim the reimbursement at one of the cashier locations of Tax-Free Germany – a VAT reimbursement company located in Rödermark.
  5. If you want to receive the money through the credit card, send the tax-free voucher with your credit card number sealed in a pre-franked envelope (collect from the stores you purchased the goods) to the company’s headquarter. The refund will be sent within three working days. 

Their website has a refund calculator for the consumers to calculate the estimated amount of their VAT reimbursement. 

Germany Duty-Free Allowance for Non-EU Travelers

When entering Germany, you can bring some certain products at a limited amount without paying customs duty. Given that you are 17 or older, you are allowed to carry:

  • 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, or 250g of tobacco. 
  • 16 liters of beer, 4 liters wine, and 1-liter spirit more than 22% volume or 2 liters of any alcoholic beverages less than 22% volume. 
  • Medications, food, fruits, and flowers for personal use.
  • Goods up to a certain value, which is €430 for air and sea travelers. It will be €300 if you are traveling via other transport systems. 

Like all other major airports across the world, German airports allow purchasing duty-free products. Enjoy Frankfurt duty-free shopping at Frankfurt Airport when you arrive or depart from Frankfurt.

The process of tax-free Germany on purchased goods at a glance:
Shopping at a TAX-Free sticker store
Filling up the tax-free Formular
Getting the customs stamp
Claiming the reimbursement.