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Old 12.12.2015, 09:53
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VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

Do tell me if this is still worthwhile - shopping for furniture in Germany.

When I do get my L-permit, is it still worthwhile to shop for furniture in Germany? I know that I won't be able to claim any refunds on VAT because of my permit, but what are the full implications here?

I pay the German VAT. I get the furniture delivered to Switzerland. I pay Swiss import tax and Swiss VAT again (?), and thus making the entire endeavour largely more costly?

Let us assume for a moment that the furniture in question costs about EUR3k in Germany, if that helps.

And would it be any different with groceries, whether I keep under or go above the per pax limits?

Thanks!
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Old 12.12.2015, 10:03
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

If it is shipped to CH there will be no German VAT.

If you pick it up in Germany, there will be, and with an L you can't claim it back.

Get it shipped.

Tom
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Old 12.12.2015, 10:11
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

So, getting it shipped would mean incurring no German VAT but a Swiss VAT of 8%. Would I need to shore up more for Swiss import tax / any other duties?

I gathered food stuff above certain limits are subject to duties... not sure about new furniture.
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Old 12.12.2015, 11:27
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

Most, if not every furniture store near the border will to all the paperwork and delivery for you. Has been the case for decades.

Looks like furniture made in the EU is duty free.
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Old 12.12.2015, 11:33
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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Most, if not every furniture store near the border will to all the paperwork and delivery for you. Has been the case for decades.

Looks like furniture made in the EU is duty free.
Thanks, that was what I have been finding, though largely through omission or deduction rather than an explicit statement. Anyhow, it's all a little rushed this morning as we just figured that this would be our only chance to pay Germany a visit until February owing to other travel plans.
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Old 12.12.2015, 11:33
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

Time to leave for Germany...
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Old 12.12.2015, 12:44
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

I don't think the kind of permit you have is in any way relevant.
When you buy stuff in Germany you fill out some forms at the shop, and you have them stamped at the border at the German border post when you travel back. This then allows you to reclaim vat. In theory you must also present these forms to the Swiss customs post, and then pay any duties and VAT. But I see few people actually bother with that.

When you buy stuff abroad to have it shipped to Switzerland the foreign merchant should simply not charge any VAT at all. Then when it enters Switzerland Swiss VAT and customs duty becomse Due.

Again, the kind of permit you have is not relevant.
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Old 12.12.2015, 22:22
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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I don't think the kind of permit you have is in any way relevant.

Again, the kind of permit you have is not relevant.
Really??
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Old 12.12.2015, 22:48
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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Really??
Here's my take on this:

If you export the purchased stuff from abroad in your personal luggage, you have to prove that you're a permanent Swiss resident to be eligible for the foreign customs stamp/VAT refund.

However, if you have your stuff shipped directly to a valid Swiss address, your residence status doesn't matter. It's up to the foreign vendor to grant their customers a VAT refund and - if it was agreed upon- it's on the logistics partner to take care of customs clearance on both sides of the border.
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Old 13.12.2015, 13:26
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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Here's my take on this:

If you export the purchased stuff from abroad in your personal luggage, you have to prove that you're a permanent Swiss resident to be eligible for the foreign customs stamp/VAT refund.
You don't need to prove you are a Swiss Resident. Anybody can claim VAT refund on goods imported in to Switzerland from the EU. Tourists do it all the time for example.
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Old 13.12.2015, 13:52
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

Getting the German customs stamp on exports with goods in personal baggage is not guaranteed with an L-permit, at least my experience here in Basel.

It works about 85% of the time. Sometimes they turn down because of L-permit. Then I produce a CH driving license and/or US passport and they accept it another 10%, = overall 95% success rate.

You cant fight much on this. There is actually a printed brochure they have specifically saying L-permits are not entitled to the stamp. Curious about the inconsistency and the seemingly nonsensical rule, I wrote to the Germal Customs HQ asking why L-permits cannot receive VAT export stamps. Their reply : "its up to the individual customs officer to determine if you are a permanent resident or not, and L-permit is not a binding proof of it."

Still, I get one about 95% of the time.
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Old 13.12.2015, 13:54
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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You don't need to prove you are a Swiss Resident. Anybody can claim VAT refund on goods imported in to Switzerland from the EU. Tourists do it all the time for example.
Then why do you need to show your residency permit and/or write down your Swiss address with Global Blue??
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Old 13.12.2015, 14:55
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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You don't need to prove you are a Swiss Resident. Anybody can claim VAT refund on goods imported in to Switzerland from the EU. Tourists do it all the time for example.
Krist, I'm afraid you're wrong. Please read the official info on tax-free shopping by German Customs:

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If the following conditions are met, goods you have bought from a retailer are not subject to VAT:
  • you live in a non-EU country, and can prove it to the vendor by showing a relevant identity document,
  • ...
You'll find similar statements by their French, Italian, and Austrian colleagues.

If anyone could reclaim VAT, the system could be easily abused. What you mean is probably that anyone can get an export certificate (Ausfuhrschein). But certainly not everyone can get it stamped when exporting in their personal luggage.
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Old 14.12.2015, 07:47
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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Krist, I'm afraid you're wrong. Please read the official info on tax-free shopping by German Customs:
Which again, does nowhere say you need to be a Swiss Resident...

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If anyone could reclaim VAT, the system could be easily abused. What you mean is probably that anyone can get an export certificate (Ausfuhrschein). But certainly not everyone can get it stamped when exporting in their personal luggage.
The system is actually widely abused. In Domodossola there is a customs agent at the station who just stamps anything put in front of him, during the 5 minutes that the train from Milano stops there...
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Old 14.12.2015, 09:58
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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Which again, does nowhere say you need to be a Swiss Resident...
It says you need to be a "non-EU resident", which translates to "Swiss resident" for most members/readers of englishforum.ch interested in this thread, wouldn't you agree?

So your statement
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Anybody can claim VAT refund on goods imported in to Switzerland from the EU.
is not correct according to the sources I provided above.

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The system is actually widely abused. In Domodossola there is a customs agent at the station who just stamps anything put in front of him, during the 5 minutes that the train from Milano stops there...
That may be happening, but it's certainly not legal, as you already said.
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Old 14.12.2015, 10:34
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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It says you need to be a "non-EU resident", which translates to "Swiss resident".
Exactly. To legally export from the EU into Switzerland, you must be non-EU resident. Or to put it another way, if you are EU resident, it's not possible for you to legally export goods into Switzerland.

Which was the grounds a few years back that the German customs officer gave me as refusal to stamp the form. "The Swiss B permit does not prove you do not have a permanent residence in the EU". (Thankfully, only happened once).
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Old 14.12.2015, 11:07
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Re: VAT / import tax implications for L-permit holder

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Exactly. To legally export from the EU into Switzerland, you must be non-EU resident. Or to put it another way, if you are EU resident, it's not possible for you to legally export goods into Switzerland.
No, you do not have to be a non-Eu resident. A EU-redisdent can not use the simple process for private individuals but has to do an official export declaration using a shipping company.

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If you export the purchased stuff from abroad in your personal luggage, you have to prove that you're a permanent Swiss resident to be eligible for the foreign customs stamp/VAT refund.

However, if you have your stuff shipped directly to a valid Swiss address, your residence status doesn't matter. It's up to the foreign vendor to grant their customers a VAT refund and - if it was agreed upon- it's on the logistics partner to take care of customs clearance on both sides of the border.
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