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Old 25.10.2011, 13:00
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Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

I know this is a amateur question, but can someone please help me to understand exactly what needs to be done to get the VAT back when making purchases in Konstanz? It's easy enough when I fly from place to place, but for some reason, my simpleton mind can't seem to figure it out when I go a hop, skip and a jump over the border. I get the green slips, but beyond on that, I'm lost.

Any insight will be beyond appreciated!
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Old 25.10.2011, 13:26
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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I know this is a amateur question, but can someone please help me to understand exactly what needs to be done to get the VAT back when making purchases in Konstanz? It's easy enough when I fly from place to place, but for some reason, my simpleton mind can't seem to figure it out when I go a hop, skip and a jump over the border. I get the green slips, but beyond on that, I'm lost.

Any insight will be beyond appreciated!
Once you get the customs bill, stop at the border, go to the customs office (follow the people carrying similar bills) with your passport and get the slip stamped by the grumpy guy behind the counter. Next time you go to the same shop, take the bill with you and they'll give you your tax back.
I'm sure someone will explain it better, just wait .
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Old 25.10.2011, 13:40
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

Oh, that's easy. I can do that.

I know it's a simpleton question , but I've heard different info from differing people (go back to the shop, go to the customs agent, do it within XX number of days, you need this, you need that....).

Thank you for the USEFUL answer and thank you for not being a total jerk with your response. Sometimes people come to this forum to get an actual answer, not to be mocked or made to feel bad just because their question is something those living here for ages already have the answer to (grumble, grumble).
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Old 25.10.2011, 13:44
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

In my experience, you have to go back within 6 months, but we were late by weeks in different occasions and still got the money back. Just remember to take your passport with you when you go to customs to get the stamp.
Like everything, once you get the hang of it, it's very simple .
Good luck.
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Old 25.10.2011, 13:51
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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Oh, that's easy. I can do that.

I know it's a simpleton question , but I've heard different info from differing people (go back to the shop, go to the customs agent, do it within XX number of days, you need this, you need that....).

Thank you for the USEFUL answer and thank you for not being a total jerk with your response. Sometimes people come to this forum to get an actual answer, not to be mocked or made to feel bad just because their question is something those living here for ages already have the answer to (grumble, grumble).
There is a Customs Office at the train station. You can get you papers stamped there, then head back to the store to get your VAT refund. This way, you won't have to go all the way back to the Swiss-German border (if travelling by car).
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Old 25.10.2011, 13:52
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

Watch out if you are an EU citizen - I usually show my UK passport and have no problems but a couple of times I have been asked for proof that I am resident outside the EU .. so you would need your CH Residence permit too.

I remember the first time I did it - it was confusing. Just count yourself lucky that you aren't crossing at the Rheinfelden border .. there is a German customs official who stamps your VAT form there who refuses to stamp it if you approach his desk from the wrong side (being the right hand side). I did it once and my cheeks are still smarting at the humiliation of being made to back out to the right a couple of steps, walk in a straight line beyond his window then be beckoned back to his window from the left. Really. And there was no one else there.
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Old 25.10.2011, 13:54
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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Once you get the customs bill, stop at the border, go to the customs office (follow the people carrying similar bills) with your passport and get the slip stamped by the grumpy guy behind the counter. Next time you go to the same shop, take the bill with you and they'll give you your tax back.
I'm sure someone will explain it better, just wait .
Well to be more precise - go to the German customs side first and get the form stamped there.
For Konstanz, as you walk into the customs office from the car part, it's the counter on the left.

Then, if your purchase is over 300CHF, you'll need to pay Swiss import duty.

So, for Konstanz, it's the counter on the right. Pay the duty, get more stamps and then go into Switzerland.

On your next visit to Konstanz (within six months), take the stamped form back to the shop and claim back your cash.
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Old 25.10.2011, 14:11
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

It's also very important to know that some stores have the "Global Blue Form Duty Free". This means that the store does not give you the VAT back. Rather a counter at the train station does. It's the SBB counter #5 (only this one counter gives the money). It's not a problem and the SBB guy will ask if you want it in franks or euros. Obviously in the stores they only give you Euros back.

It's an interesting point for the Global Blue duty free forms is that they have a sliding table for the VAT, so you usually don't get your exact VAT back. It's usually close, but for some reason you don't get the full amount.
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Old 25.10.2011, 14:26
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

We also learned that you have to get the customs stamps (German, then Swiss) on the same day as the purchase. You can go back to the shop within 6 months to collect your money, but you have to get the stamps same day (at least according to the guy at the Polo shop in Konstanz).
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Old 25.10.2011, 14:35
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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Watch out if you are an EU citizen - I usually show my UK passport and have no problems but a couple of times I have been asked for proof that I am resident outside the EU .. so you would need your CH Residence permit too.

Best thing is to always bring your resident permit (the L permit is not generaly accepted). Technically and EU passport should not allow you to get VAT back in Germany. After all you are saying 'Hey, I'm from the EU so I would like some VAT back from the EU'

I imagine the boarder gaurd accpepted passport as proof of ID but not of residence, which is the crucial factor. Anecdotally I hear they are getting stricter due to the weak euro so definetly best to bring your Swiss Permit with you.

OP, just also beware of the import limits on item like fresh meat and alcohol e.g. Max 500g of fresh meat per trip.
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Old 25.10.2011, 14:46
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

Hmm...one more question here, do L Permit holders get any sort of VAT back (from the Global blue stores)? I mean, they aren't from EU but they aren't considered for Swiss RP either...
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Old 25.10.2011, 14:57
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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Best thing is to always bring your resident permit (the L permit is not generaly accepted). Technically and EU passport should not allow you to get VAT back in Germany. After all you are saying 'Hey, I'm from the EU so I would like some VAT back from the EU'

I imagine the boarder gaurd accpepted passport as proof of ID but not of residence, which is the crucial factor. Anecdotally I hear they are getting stricter due to the weak euro so definetly best to bring your Swiss Permit with you.

OP, just also beware of the import limits on item like fresh meat and alcohol e.g. Max 500g of fresh meat per trip.
Almost right - EU citizens are allowed to get EU VAT back if they live outside of the EU, but some countries have restrictions for people who left recently - for example, I think the UK has a 1 year requirement before you can get UK VAT back (though I suspect the German border officials will not care about this technicality).

However, the German official at Laufenburg has (at least once) stamped my form when I had neither my passport nor B permit with me - he just grumpily told me to remember to bring it next time.
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Old 25.10.2011, 15:05
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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Hmm...one more question here, do L Permit holders get any sort of VAT back (from the Global blue stores)? I mean, they aren't from EU but they aren't considered for Swiss RP either...
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Almost right - EU citizens are allowed to get EU VAT back if they live outside of the EU, but some countries have restrictions for people who left recently - for example, I think the UK has a 1 year requirement before you can get UK VAT back (though I suspect the German border officials will not care about this technicality).

However, the German official at Laufenburg has (at least once) stamped my form when I had neither my passport nor B permit with me - he just grumpily told me to remember to bring it next time.
So by deduction, the L permit holder would be entitled to a VAT refund as all you need to prove is that you are not resident in the EU and you are exporting the goods outside the EU. The residence permit for an "EU citizen" is an easy way to prove their non EU residence status.
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Old 25.10.2011, 15:06
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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Hmm...one more question here, do L Permit holders get any sort of VAT back (from the Global blue stores)? I mean, they aren't from EU but they aren't considered for Swiss RP either...
For the EU VAT refund, it just depends where they lived in the last two years - I think that the situation is still as described here:

http://www.london-guides.co.uk/pages.php?id=e0701050

The L permit holders can still get EU VAT back, but not if they just moved here from the EU within the past year (as is the case for everyone else).
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Old 25.10.2011, 15:11
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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It's also very important to know that some stores have the "Global Blue Form Duty Free". This means that the store does not give you the VAT back. Rather a counter at the train station does. It's the SBB counter #5 (only this one counter gives the money). It's not a problem and the SBB guy will ask if you want it in franks or euros. Obviously in the stores they only give you Euros back.

It's an interesting point for the Global Blue duty free forms is that they have a sliding table for the VAT, so you usually don't get your exact VAT back. It's usually close, but for some reason you don't get the full amount.
The refund calculator on their website suggests that you get back just over half the VAT; e.g. 12% of the pre-tax amount in the UK, whereas you paid 20% VAT.

http://www.global-blue.com/traveller...nd-calculator/
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Old 25.10.2011, 15:57
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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The refund calculator on their website suggests that you get back just over half the VAT; e.g. 12% of the pre-tax amount in the UK, whereas you paid 20% VAT.

http://www.global-blue.com/traveller...nd-calculator/
Thanks for that calculator. I feel gipped out of my 12 euros or whatever they take from me. I wonder if they justify it by saying it's a service fee, but that always feels like such a ripoff to me. Unfortunately my favorite store in Konstanz uses this form and I spend enough there that I want any money back that I can get.

On another note: I've never had the customs guy who stamps my form ask for any residency or even ID proof while getting the money back. I always have it (be prepared!), but he's never done it. He just stamps and goes back to reading his book. Not saying you shouldn't have your permit, but it's just a comment on the lack of enforcement of their own policy.
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Old 25.10.2011, 16:02
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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On another note: I've never had the customs guy who stamps my form ask for any residency or even ID proof while getting the money back. I always have it (be prepared!), but he's never done it. He just stamps and goes back to reading his book. Not saying you shouldn't have your permit, but it's just a comment on the lack of enforcement of their own policy.
Funny. We recently crossed over from Austria to CH near the bottom end of the Bodensee (forget the name of the town) and they didn't ask us for any documentation or even to look at the goods. Always get asked for documents at the Rheinfelden border up this end, and at the motorway France/Basel border, got asked to traipse back to the car and bring back the goods ... it was a cot and a moses basket and I was 8 months and 2 weeks pregnant. Not happy
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Old 25.10.2011, 16:15
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

"It's also very important to know that some stores have the "Global Blue Form Duty Free". This means that the store does not give you the VAT back. Rather a counter at the train station does. It's the SBB counter #5 (only this one counter gives the money). It's not a problem and the SBB guy will ask if you want it in franks or euros. Obviously in the stores they only give you Euros back."

TIP::::::

It does not matter whether you have the Green or Blue Global form. You should ALWAYS go back to the store with the stamped form. I have been doing this for years and have never had a problem. When you go to the SBB you lose two ways on the exchange and you also pay a service fee.
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Old 25.10.2011, 16:25
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

On my last trip to Konstanz, I got "caught" by the customs guy. I just got the forms stamped and was going back to the shops with the forms in my one hand and big bags on my other hand.

I should have left Germany with the next train, he said.
and that I shouldn't head back directly from the customs office to the shops. Actually I was told that the shops are not allowed to pay the VAT back on the purchasing day.

Once you get the green forms stamped, keep them until you visit the shop next time. (don't exactly remember, if it's valid for 6 months or even longer)

I had to answer the questions like "how long I was doing this?" in the room behind the counter, in the customs office. The guy said that I've commited a criminal act "Straftat" and they'll send all the documents to Court.

Now I hope my punishment would be just a small amount of fine. Waiting for a post from german court. i guess I have a criminal record on my name now
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Old 25.10.2011, 16:36
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Re: Trip to Konstanz - getting the VAT back?

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On my last trip to Konstanz, I got "caught" by the customs guy. I just got the forms stamped and was going back to the shops with the forms in my one hand and big bags on my other hand.

I should have left Germany with the next train, he said.
and that I shouldn't head back directly from the customs office to the shops. Actually I was told that the shops are not allowed to pay the VAT back on the purchasing day.

Once you get the green forms stamped, keep them until you visit the shop next time. (don't exactly remember, if it's valid for 6 months or even longer)

I had to answer the questions like "how long I was doing this?" in the room behind the counter, in the customs office. The guy said that I've commited a criminal act "Straftat" and they'll send all the documents to Court.

Now I hope my punishment would be just a small amount of fine. Waiting for a post from german court. i guess I have a criminal record on my name now
For international smuggling?

Hope it's not too severe. Do let us know what happens.
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