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Old 08.09.2015, 14:26
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VAT refund from UK retrospectively

I've looked at lots of info on here re: the above...lots of it out of date...so:


I recently bought a bike and brought it into CH, I have the appropriate VAT refund form duly signed.
Didn't declare it at Basel customs as there were no guards around, it was late etc etc
Can I claim back the VAT as it hasn't been stamped by customs in the UK or France.....where does one do this? At Calais? At Dover?


And how long after buying it in the UK can I claim the VAT back?


Any help/ advise of recent experiences much appreciated.
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Old 08.09.2015, 14:41
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Re: VAT refund from UK retrospectively

In Germany there is usually a time limit of 6 months to claim it back.

Technically, you don't need a Swiss stamp to get the tax back, you need an exit stamp from an EU border. Go to the nearest border, ideally with the bike and get them to stamp it*. I have retrospectively done this on several occasions, and only once was asked to show the goods. Luckily they were shoes and I wore them (on purpose) that day.

From personal experience, I find the German borders much more useful and better organised than the French ones. No surprise there!

What you need a Swiss stamp for is if you are importing a bike worth more than 300 CHF (your daily allowance) into CH. You can choose not to declare this, but you risk a fine if caught as it would be illegal.

But, keep in mind that the VAT in CH is lower than in the UK, France and Germany, so you usually still make a saving.

Remember to take both your passport and residency permit if you have a passport that does not state your country of residence.

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Well you didn't get the form stamped at Dover, nor at Basel, so now you think you can claim back VAT? I think you need to go back to Kent and start over again.
Why would he get it stamped in Dover?!? You have to get it stamped on leaving the EU!

Edited to add: * the form, not the bike
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Last edited by Carlos R; 08.09.2015 at 14:54.
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Old 08.09.2015, 14:55
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Re: VAT refund from UK retrospectively

Thanks Carlos, useful information, I think I'll try the nearest German border in that case. The bike only cost £600, but VAT at 20% less the Swiss tax is still a nice saving.
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Old 08.09.2015, 17:56
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Re: VAT refund from UK retrospectively

The Germans can stamp your paperwork, but they won't refund the money to you.

The refund can only be done by the merchant, however merchants are not obliged to issue a refund. So you'd better ask the merchant if and how they do the refund.

By the way: You have to pay the Swiss 8% in any case, whether you get a refund from the other side or not. So as it stands you've already -illegally- imported the bike right now(!).

Also, technically, each item can only be officially exported the first time you leave the EU. So you have to strictly avoid telling them that you've already been to Switzerland with the bike. (In other words: be prepared to tell them where you're coming from, should they ask!)

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Old 08.09.2015, 19:43
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Re: VAT refund from UK retrospectively

It's been said before but check how long you have to submit the claim with the seller or with global blue or similar if that's who you'll get the VAT back from. The places at the border where you see people queuing up with their green forms are the German customs stamping the export (not import) form. They might ask if you have it with you but I've never had anyone come to my car to look. Many, many people then "forget" that they should declare goods over the limit to the Swiss customs 30 metres away. You're unlikely to be stopped unless you see the Germans faxing your form to the Swiss or the bike's still in its cardboard box. I've walked across the border with brand new skis before and no-one cared. It's part of the thrill that is living in Switzerland. The Swiss make up for this loss of taxes by taking money off you for just about everything else.
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