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Old 07.12.2012, 10:18
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Yet another VAT question

Hey guys,

I know that this has been done to death, but I can't find the answer via the search function;

I'm here on an L permit, and would like to buy some jewelry etc. Also, I'm going home to the States for a visit over Christmas.

1. Can I buy stuff in France or Germany and claim the VAT refund when I come back to Switzerland, even with just an L permit?

or

2. can I buy stuff in Switzerland and claim the VAT refund when I leave for the holiday visit to the USA?

I'm not looking to dodge any legal requirements, I'm just unclear on how the whole process works.

Thanks!
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Old 07.12.2012, 10:39
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Re: Yet another VAT question

people on L can not reclaim vat in france or germany based on living in CH.

you can if holding a B or C.

for the other i doubt it as you are temp resident in CH
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Old 07.12.2012, 10:48
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Re: Yet another VAT question

1. Yes. Assuming you are a US citizen it is unlikely that the French/Germans care what kind of Swiss permit you have. As a German citizen the German customs did not consider my Swiss B permit as sufficient, but wanted to see my Swiss place of residence in my passport. Proof of residence in Switzerland should do it for non-Germans.

2. No.

Note that under 1. your purchases abroad are subject to Swiss VAT upon importing them to Switzerland in case the value exceeds the 300 CHF threshold. I do not know whether you can get that VAT refunded when exporting the goods to the US within a certain time.

In case you fly via Frankfurt or Paris you could do your shopping there and still claim VAT when leaving to the US - no need to import the goods to Switzerland for claiming a VAT refund.
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Old 07.12.2012, 10:52
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Re: Yet another VAT question

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people on L can not reclaim vat in france or germany based on living in CH.

you can if holding a B or C.

for the other i doubt it as you are temp resident in CH
Hmm, even a non-EU tourist can reclaim VAT upon leaving the EU. As long as you are not a resident somewhere in the EU you are meeting the refund criteria IMHO. OP's L permit means he is a temp resident in Switzerland, but a permanent resident in the US.
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Old 07.12.2012, 11:14
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Re: Yet another VAT question

depends which way its done... trying to get it stamped at the german border when entering CH will fail.
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Old 07.12.2012, 11:22
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Re: Yet another VAT question

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OP's L permit means he is a temp resident in Switzerland, but a permanent resident in the US.
... but still a resident of CH, even if only temporary. As far as Switzerland goes:

Quote:
Conditions for tax exemption


Sales in tourist traffic are exempt from tax only if all of the following conditions are met:
  • The retail price of the goods must be at least CHF 300 (incl. VAT). However, the retail price excluding VAT has to be indicated in the export document.
  • The buyer (= customer) may not be domiciled in Switzerland (Art. 3 letter a of the VAT Act). In contrast, it is irrelevant whether the buyer is a Swiss or foreign national.
  • The goods must be intended for the personal use of the buyer or as gifts.
  • The goods must be exported to a foreign customs territory by the buyer within 30 days of receipt.
  • Proof of exportation can be provided either with a confirmed export document (Arts. 3-5) or with an unconfirmed export document together with an import assessment issued by a foreign customs authority (Art. 6).
  • The export document must be drawn up in the name of the buyer and may contain solely goods supplied to this person. Joint declarations with goods for various buyers are not permitted.
If one or more of the above conditions are not met, the supplier must tax the goods supplied.
Source
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Old 07.12.2012, 11:32
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Re: Yet another VAT question

Regarding Germany:
Quote:
German Value Added Tax Refunds and Exemption

Value added tax (VAT) is automatically included in the price of goods purchased in Germany. The rate is 16 or 7 percent. If you purchase the goods while in Germany and carry them out of the country in your personal baggage, you will have to pay the VAT at the time of the purchase and file for a refund.

- Inform the retailer that you intend to export the merchandise to a non-EU country. Present your passport showing your address outside the EU;
- The retailer will then fill out an export certificate form;
- The customs official must stamp the export certificate;
- On your return to the U.S., you must mail the export certificate and the bill of sale back to the retailer in order to receive a refund.
Source
Another Source with information regarding VAT refunds
JC
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Old 07.12.2012, 11:46
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Re: Yet another VAT question

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depends which way its done... trying to get it stamped at the german border when entering CH will fail.
Where/when else ? Do you think the Swiss customs will provide a stamp on a EU tax document ? Do you believe such Swiss stamp is recognized by a EU country ?
What is preventing the OP from obtaining the stamp when leaving France/Germany by showing just his US passport? How are the customs folks supposed to distinguish him from a US tourist ? And no, this is not tax fraud as long as the OP doesn't have a place of residence somewhere in the EU.
I understand that customs will take a closer look at EU citizens claiming to live in Switzerland. However, that shouldn't bother the OP.
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