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Old 18.08.2011, 02:15
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VAT-back from Germany

Hi,

My partner and I have been looking at buying a fairly seriously digital SLR camera kit (about 1500-2000 eur) for the last month now. We were on the verge of pressing "confirm order" when it suddenly occurred to me that there could be a good way to save some money - buy it from a shop in Germany (Konstanz) and then claim the VAT back at the border on the way to Zürich

Unfortunately, I don't know so much about this. Could someone please fill me in? How does it work? Do you get the full (19%?) back? Is there anything else I should know about doing this?

Cheers,

M
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Old 18.08.2011, 07:07
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Hi.
You are spot on with your idea of getting the VAT back but since your tax free shopping allowance is only 300 chf per person you need to pay the Swiss VAT (8%) when you cross the border. So you still have a saving of 11%.

When you buy the kit you pay full price (incl german VAT). You then request an export form from the shop for Switzerland. You need to fill the form out with your details and sign.

At the border you park and walk to the german counter to get the form stamped as proof that you exported the goods. You then walk to the Swiss counter and pay the 8% Swiss VAT. All done. You can now go back to the shop where you bought the goods, present the stamped form and they will pay you the full german VAT back.

Hope that helps.
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Old 18.08.2011, 10:44
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

the % is not correct - you will actually get back arount 15-16% of the german price because the tax is calculated on the pre tax cost.

eg buy something for 100 euro and the amount you claim back is €15 and some cents.
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Old 18.08.2011, 11:08
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Ignore my ignorance but with my calculation you are looking at 12.5% exact. E.g.

100 euros product cost incl 19% german VAT = 19 euros you can claim back and product cost excl VAT = 81 euros

At the Swiss border you pay 8% of 81 euros = 6.48 euros

Therefore your saving is 19 euros - 6.48 euros = 12.52 euros.

So about 12.5% no?

Or is my understanding wrong?
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Old 18.08.2011, 11:14
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

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Ignore my ignorance but with my calculation you are looking at 12.5% exact. E.g.

100 euros product cost incl 19% german VAT = 19 euros you can claim back and product cost excl VAT = 81 euros

At the Swiss border you pay 8% of 81 euros = 6.48 euros

Therefore your saving is 19 euros - 6.48 euros = 12.52 euros.

So about 12.5% no?

Or is my understanding wrong?
For this case the 100 Euros are already product cost (100%) plus VAT (19%) = 119%

After removal of the VAT you have EUR 84.03 (=100% of the product cost)

Add then the 8% Swiss VAT and you're there at EUR 90.75 (savings of approx 9-10%) or thereabouts.
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Old 18.08.2011, 11:21
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

Thanks for the replies (and example calculations!). Not being car people, we'll be taking either the train (Konstanz) or the ferry (Fredrichshafen-Romanshorn) - does anyone have personal experience there of how it works? Are the Swiss and German parts side-by-side, or is it a matter of trying to track the two different parts of the process down.

There is also the question of Import duties on a Camera - I remember seeing a link to a swiss website here that was dreadfully complicated but could in theory tell you how much it was. Does anyone know the website, or know how much this is likely to be...?
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Old 18.08.2011, 11:25
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

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Thanks for the replies (and example calculations!). Not being car people, we'll be taking either the train (Konstanz) or the ferry (Fredrichshafen-Romanshorn) - does anyone have personal experience there of how it works? Are the Swiss and German parts side-by-side, or is it a matter of trying to track the two different parts of the process down.

There is also the question of Import duties on a Camera - I remember seeing a link to a swiss website here that was dreadfully complicated but could in theory tell you how much it was. Does anyone know the website, or know how much this is likely to be...?
I doubt you will pay any import duties, it's based on weight & not value so nothing worrying about this time. The price quotred is per 100 kilo IIRC.
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Old 18.08.2011, 11:28
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

It's a heavy camera!!!!

The answers here are also implying that you need to have the green form stamped by the Swiss authorities (showing that you have paid the Swiss 8%) *before* the German shop will pay you back your 19% VAT. Is this correct? Or is the shop only interested in the German border stamp?
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Old 18.08.2011, 11:36
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

There's loads of threads on this already. Search (use the google search if the standard EF search doesn't return anything useful, it is crap) and have a read.
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Old 18.08.2011, 11:40
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

Are you sure the fairly serious camera kit is that much cheaper in Germany?

I just had a quick look at a Canon 7D body only:

Amazon.de = EUR1399
Digitec.ch = CHF1359

I think general home/hobby electronics are still rather cheap in Switzerland. If you are looking for a washing machine or a giant freezer, then yeah, Germany is way cheaper.
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Old 18.08.2011, 12:21
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Re: VAT-back from Germany

Wow. I am humbled, and must apologise to the Swiss nation for my gross stereotyping.....

Looking around online we can save about €200 in relation to German prices. Impressive. Finally, an advantage to living in Switzerland and being paid in Euros (it sucks in every other regard!) If only I had thought of this last week, instead of this week.....!

Thanks for the tip.
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