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Old 19.04.2010, 22:52
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Reclaiming German MWST

Has anyone done this at a shop nowhere near the border which has no "green forms" or has even heard of "Global Refund"? In other words, for a clueless never-sold-to-a-foreigner-before place?

It appears that it is possible

http://www.zoll.de/english_version/a...ing/index.html

But has anyone done this? Basically, you take your own "green form" with you and persuade the shop owner to fill it out and no doubt have to do something funky with their tax return.
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Old 19.04.2010, 23:19
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

I have some friends who do this every week: You walk with your completely normal supermarket bill to the customs, get a stamp from the Germans, get a stamp from the Swiss, pay Swiss VAT and the next time you go back to your supermarket, they will pay out the VAT in cash to you. Simple.
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Old 19.04.2010, 23:27
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

Lots of us do that, Trev, but Ady is asking about shops that don't happily (and automagically) hand out those lovely green (or sometimes white) forms so you can get your tax back.

I've wondered about this myself and would love to know the answer, especially when faced with the Global Tax Ripoff alternative (they take up to half your refund as their fee!). Sadly, I don't have the answer.
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Old 19.04.2010, 23:40
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

I've done supermarket shopping at the border. Marktkauf are ready with their retro dot matrix printer and a roll of green forms.

I've done the Global Refund thing where you end up getting the tax back minus their commission (a huge chunk) and a bad exchange rate (as they refund here in CHF on a Euro tax amount).

But now I've found my dream new bicycle in a shop near Stuttgart and 19% mwst is a noticeable amount. I know I'll probably have to pay Swiss import duty but the difference will still be around 10%, which will cover a decent dinner for two in Germany (or a bigmac meal here).

Treverus - with just the till receipt? And why does the Swiss customs have to stamp it? I think if I did this and then went back to the shop with a stamped normal receipt, they'd just stare at me and shrug.
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Old 19.04.2010, 23:55
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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Lots of us do that, Trev, but Ady is asking about shops that don't happily (and automagically) hand out those lovely green (or sometimes white) forms so you can get your tax back.

I've wondered about this myself and would love to know the answer, especially when faced with the Global Tax Ripoff alternative (they take up to half your refund as their fee!). Sadly, I don't have the answer.
Ok. Once again and slowly: I am not talking about any green form, but a standard bill any shop gives you that states clearly the VAT you paid. You get it stamped, export your stuff, go back to Germany to the shop, present your stamped bill and they will pay out the difference in cash. This is what many completely normal shops along the border seem to do. I have to admit that I never did it myself as all the supermarkets, MediaMarkt and so on are better prepared anyway. But a friend who likes to shop at a small Turkish corner shop somewhere just over the border told that it works this way...
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Old 19.04.2010, 23:59
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

Ah. Now that you've said it slowly ... Actually I missed the "completely normal" bit on my first speed-read. But nevertheless, I doubt the veracity of your friend's claim. Seems like waaaaaaaaay too little paperwork to keep the average German bureaucrat happy.
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Old 20.04.2010, 00:01
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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Ah. Now that you've said it slowly ... Actually I missed the "completely normal" bit on my first speed-read. But nevertheless, I doubt the veracity of your friend's claim. Seems like waaaaaaaaay too little paperwork to keep the average German bureaucrat happy.
True, but I guess that paper work is done by the shop that keeps your stamped bill...
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Old 20.04.2010, 00:27
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

I guess the printout of the above reference from zoll.de might help deal with "clueless" sellers.

When looking to buy a laptop in Germany I stumbled on the following specifications: http://www.notebooksbilliger.de/info...ection/foreign

"We will refund the paid VAT to any international bank account after all your documents arrived and processed by our accounting department. Please keep in mind that we are forced to charge a 20,- EUR fee for this process."
Now, I'm not sure whether they refer to the fee for bank transactions or whether they are forced by the bureaucratic entities. If latter, it may be that the owner of the small Turkish shop around the corner is clueless in his/her own detriment.
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Old 20.04.2010, 00:34
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

Of course, all that has been said in this thread applies only to people who travel by car and are able to prove to the German customs at the boarder that they are actually exporting the stuff.

If you go by train you can forget it. You can of course go to the Germany Consulate when you get home and present your purchases but they are even more 'gourmand' than Global Refund or maybe they just don't want to be bothered with this sort of thing. They charge you per item which is o.k. if you bought a sofa but absolutely unattractive in the case of two dozen ties or two dozen pairs of sock.
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Old 20.04.2010, 00:51
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

Oh, and I did end up buying a computer in Germany in a proper store. They didn't give me the green/white form, instead they gave me their invoice with my Swiss address on it + the cashier rechnung and it was enough for the customs.
But Adrian, you will need to go back to Stuttgart to get the VAT refund, and unless you would go there anyway, it might not be such good of a saving.
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Old 20.04.2010, 00:57
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

The German customs at Basel Bad Bf will stamp a green form or Global Refund form; that's where I got mine stamped previously.

I know I need to go back to get the money, but I've got friends there and will be back at some point anyway.

Interesting that you and Treverus now say that shops deal with just a till receipt. The German customs will no doubt stamp anything, but my issue is that I need to return to the shop and give them back the stamped till receipt. They will then need to give me the mwst back and use that stamped receipt to reduce their own mwst bill and this part is where I reckon my shop will just get confused.

Anyway, I guess this thread won't go much further as it seems there are procedures in place and I simply need to convince my bike shop to do what they need to do, and that's an individual thing.

My plan is to buy the bike on my next free weekend which is in mid May. I'll post back here with how I get on.
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Old 20.04.2010, 01:18
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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Anyway, I guess this thread won't go much further as it seems there are procedures in place and I simply need to convince my bike shop to do what they need to do, and that's an individual thing.

My plan is to buy the bike on my next free weekend which is in mid May. I'll post back here with how I get on.
I am not sure whether I understood you correctly, but if it's a matter of the green form and you don't have one, why not try to borrow one and make copies. I used to do this when I still had a car and always took a good supply with me. It worked fine.
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Old 20.04.2010, 01:38
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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But Adrian, you will need to go back to Stuttgart to get the VAT refund, and unless you would go there anyway, it might not be such good of a saving.
Ady, I don't think Nat's 100% correct here. You don't have to collect your refund in cash. The retailer simply needs to receive the proof of export (stamped form/till receipt/whatever), which they can do by post, then they can refund the tax in a variety of ways -- e.g. directly to your bank account (there may be a small charge for this unless you have a German bank account).

It's always surprised me that shops give the refund in cash even if the original transaction was by credit card ... why not give a credit card refund, thereby reducing the fees charged by the credit card issuer to the retailer?
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Old 20.04.2010, 09:41
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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If latter, it may be that the owner of the small Turkish shop around the corner is clueless in his/her own detriment.
I guess the owner would wake up latest at the next tax declaration. My friend grew up here and does this all her life, so I guess the 20 EUR are more a hidden fee set up by this particular notebook shop.
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Old 22.04.2010, 15:35
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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I guess the printout of the above reference from zoll.de might help deal with "clueless" sellers.

When looking to buy a laptop in Germany I stumbled on the following specifications: http://www.notebooksbilliger.de/info...ection/foreign

"We will refund the paid VAT to any international bank account after all your documents arrived and processed by our accounting department. Please keep in mind that we are forced to charge a 20,- EUR fee for this process."
Now, I'm not sure whether they refer to the fee for bank transactions or whether they are forced by the bureaucratic entities. If latter, it may be that the owner of the small Turkish shop around the corner is clueless in his/her own detriment.
Evidently there is no particular form of proof required by the tax authorities for proof that an item was exported: any seller who sells abroad by post simply uses its postal docket (recorded delivery or tracking unnecessary) as proof of export.

But many retailers can't or won't be bothered. Either out of fear of being caught up in the enforcement campaign against "carousel VAT fraud" (notably in relation to mobile phones, but it can be anything) or because the learning curve isn't justified by the incremental work.

BUT: goods that have been touched by a buyer who is or was resident in the country of purchase, or which are exported by him or by his contractor, become an "indirect" export and not a "direct" export and the rules are more stringent.

The rules aren't completely uniform throughout the EU, but you may find HMRC's explanation helpful: http://customs.hmrc.gov.uk/channelsP...HMCE_CL_000130

I recently found that the discount offered by an Internet retailer compensated for the fact that this retailer didn't want to deal with VAT refunds. And in the end, my man-and-a-van wasn't forced by Swiss Customs to make a formal entry. (Customs did empty the van and inspect the goods, but most were used; for those at least, had Customs forced the issue, I would have been entitled to duty-free entry but would have had to pay a customs broker.)

Note that most German furniture retailers selling on eBay.ch rebate the German VAT and arrange for Swiss customs brokerage and payment of Swiss VAT.
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Old 23.04.2010, 21:13
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

There is no formal need for an accompanying green or white form. However, the payment receipt must identify the purchaser. The German border officer should then verify that the named purchaser is not resident in the EU before stamping to confirm export from the EU.

If the above requirement is not enforced then VAT fraud can occur. Any German resident could then roll over the border, get the receipt stamped and go home to collect VAT refund!
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Old 24.04.2010, 11:36
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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There is no formal need for an accompanying green or white form. However, the payment receipt must identify the purchaser. The German border officer should then verify that the named purchaser is not resident in the EU before stamping to confirm export from the EU.

If the above requirement is not enforced then VAT fraud can occur. Any German resident could then roll over the border, get the receipt stamped and go home to collect VAT refund!
That's the main reason for the distinction between "direct" and "indirect" exports and VAT zero rating (not exemption, which does not yield a total refund). These are defined in the link I gave above. The distinction is not fully enforceable or enforced; I have moved from the UK several times and established household removal firms have no trouble certifying for VAT purposes the export of new goods for persons moving from the UK (or even just furnishing a holiday home). (Similarly Swiss Customs is lax about enforcing their VAT on "new" goods included in a household goods shipment even thought such goods are, in principle, taxable. I am told.)

As a practical matter an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen will not necessarily have proof of residence, especially if resident in the UK or Ireland where registration of domicile does not exist. (Proof of "residence" here is normally by bank statements, council tax notices and utility bills.) So presenting anything other than a Swiss ID card or third-country (non-EU/EEA) passport can lead to "further discussion".

In real life the major VAT fraud is not by retail customers but of the "carousel" type, by organised crime and fly-by-night businesses. Which is why the VAT refund scheme has been revised for specific items targeted by such criminals: mobile phones especially. http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=%22...rader+fraud%22
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Old 10.05.2010, 23:05
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

i'm planning on buying some new shocks for my motorbike, from Germany: wilbers-shop.de. I have a friend who lives in Germany, i could ship them there, go pick'em up and drive back across the border.

Would this work? I see on the zoll.de link that this might not work because the shocks might be considered "private vehicle supplies" ?
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Old 11.05.2010, 17:19
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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i'm planning on buying some new shocks for my motorbike, from Germany: wilbers-shop.de. I have a friend who lives in Germany, i could ship them there, go pick'em up and drive back across the border.

Would this work? I see on the zoll.de link that this might not work because the shocks might be considered "private vehicle supplies" ?
Unfortunately VAT refunds are not given in Germany on vehicle accessories unless they are fitted to your car/motorbike by the retailer, and a REASONABLE fitting fee is charged by them. So:
  • New tyres supplied and fitted by the tyre shop -- you get the VAT back.
  • New roof bars and luggage box bought from the accessories shop -- no VAT back.
  • New 2x2 inch woodgrain panel to replace one I cracked on my car dashboard (cost: 105 euros!!!!!!!!), even if I ask the retailer to supply an invoice with a nominal 5 euro fitting charge -- no VAT back.
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Old 11.05.2010, 17:51
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Re: Reclaiming German MWST

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Unfortunately VAT refunds are not given in Germany on vehicle accessories unless they are fitted to your car/motorbike by the retailer, and a REASONABLE fitting fee is charged by them. So:
  • New tyres supplied and fitted by the tyre shop -- you get the VAT back.
  • New roof bars and luggage box bought from the accessories shop -- no VAT back.
  • New 2x2 inch woodgrain panel to replace one I cracked on my car dashboard (cost: 105 euros!!!!!!!!), even if I ask the retailer to supply an invoice with a nominal 5 euro fitting charge -- no VAT back.
Thanks, so it sounds like the best thing to do is find a german shop that'll put the shocks on the bike while i wait in germany, and then i might be able to get the VAT back. Correct?
Know of any shops like that near schwarzwald?
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