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Old 02.09.2020, 15:57
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VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

Dear English Forum guys,

Some days ago, I wanted to purchase a product online and, as the company was in the USA, I asked them to deliver the product in Switzerland. Even though the seller first confirmed that the product could be exported to Switzerland, once I bought it they told me that they actually could not do it.

As I was flying to Greece (and the product was actually a gift that I would give it there anyway), I told the company that they could deliver it there. They confirmed they could but there would have a difference in the taxes. In fact, the VAT in Greece is 24%, much higher than in Switzerland, and I ended up paying for the taxes there (including VAT). When the product arrived there, the customs communicated me and told me that clearance would be necessary in order to proceed with the delivery.

Now I'm back to Switzerland (and the gift is given) and have all the documents from this purchase, plus the documents containing Greek taxes I had to pay. My question is: as a Swiss resident (B permit), would it be possible for me to claim the VAT return? If so, how could I do it?

Thank you!
Gustavo

P.S.: Because of personal reasons, I didn't have time to check for products in Switzerland or EU (short time frame to look for another way) and I had to have the product in Greece anyway. I appreciate any information that can be given on this, but comments about why I bought it from the USA or why I asked them to deliver it in Greece would not be helpful. Thank you for understanding.
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Old 02.09.2020, 16:03
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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My question is: as a Swiss resident (B permit), would it be possible for me to claim the VAT return?
No.

Tom
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Old 02.09.2020, 17:12
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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Dear English Forum guys,

Some days ago, I wanted to purchase a product online and, as the company was in the USA, I asked them to deliver the product in Switzerland. Even though the seller first confirmed that the product could be exported to Switzerland, once I bought it they told me that they actually could not do it.

As I was flying to Greece (and the product was actually a gift that I would give it there anyway), I told the company that they could deliver it there. They confirmed they could but there would have a difference in the taxes. In fact, the VAT in Greece is 24%, much higher than in Switzerland, and I ended up paying for the taxes there (including VAT). When the product arrived there, the customs communicated me and told me that clearance would be necessary in order to proceed with the delivery.

Now I'm back to Switzerland (and the gift is given) and have all the documents from this purchase, plus the documents containing Greek taxes I had to pay. My question is: as a Swiss resident (B permit), would it be possible for me to claim the VAT return? If so, how could I do it?

Thank you!
Gustavo

P.S.: Because of personal reasons, I didn't have time to check for products in Switzerland or EU (short time frame to look for another way) and I had to have the product in Greece anyway. I appreciate any information that can be given on this, but comments about why I bought it from the USA or why I asked them to deliver it in Greece would not be helpful. Thank you for understanding.
It was possible before gifting it by crossing the border. After receiving the product in Greece (if you actually paid greek VAT, but it looks like it) you could've crossed EU-Switzerland border and declared the export of this product outside of EU, get your form stamped. This would allow you to claim the VAT back from the seller.

Now I believe that the ship has sailed
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Old 02.09.2020, 17:14
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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It was possible before gifting it by crossing the border. After receiving the product in Greece (if you actually paid greek VAT, but it looks like it) you could've crossed EU-Switzerland border and declared the export of this product outside of EU, get your form stamped. This would allow you to claim the VAT back from the seller.

Now I believe that the ship has sailed
He paid VAT to the Greek government, NOT the seller!

Tom
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Old 02.09.2020, 17:18
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

As the good remains in Greece the Greek VAT can not be reimbursed. The good itself is taxed, not the person.
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Old 02.09.2020, 17:19
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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He paid VAT to the Greek government, NOT the seller!

Tom
Ah, right - nvm then.
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Old 02.09.2020, 17:23
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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As the good remains in Greece the Greek VAT can not be reimbursed. The good itself is taxed, not the person.
If OP would've bought it in a Greek shop (with retailer paying the VAT), I think it would've been possible to: buy it in Greece, come to Switzerland (get Greek VAT back, pay Swiss VAT), then gift it to the Greek friend.
EU refund is for goods "intended for personal use or gifts".

At the end of the day it's the person to be taxed, in one way or another. If OP is truly paying for the goods (gifted then or not) - he/she is taxed, and he/she has the right to be taxed according to his/her residence (fulfilling certain conditions etc.)
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Old 02.09.2020, 17:44
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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If OP would've bought it in a Greek shop (with retailer paying the VAT), I think it would've been possible to: buy it in Greece, come to Switzerland (get Greek VAT back, pay Swiss VAT), then gift it to the Greek friend.
EU refund is for goods "intended for personal use or gifts".
Sure, that totally works w/o the good actually leaving the customs area
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Old 02.09.2020, 17:47
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

Thank you all for the answers so far!

Some further explanation:

Quote:
He paid VAT to the Greek government, NOT the seller!
Yes, st2lemans is right. The VAT was paid to the Greek government.

Quote:
As the good remains in Greece the Greek VAT can not be reimbursed.
The good didn't remain in Greece. It was to my partner (not a Greek friend), so we brought it back to Switzerland.

Quote:
At the end of the day it's the person to be taxed, in one way or another. If OP is truly paying for the goods (gifted then or not) - he/she is taxed, and he/she has the right to be taxed according to his/her residence (fulfilling certain conditions etc.)
This is what I thought as well... Why exactly couldn't I get the Greek taxes back (and pay the Swiss VAT)?
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Old 02.09.2020, 18:02
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

I am sure the import duty people are part of Global Blue or a similar scheme. You should have asked them for their "Tax Free for Export" forms....oh hang on, that's only available at shops.

In this case you're SOL, I would say.
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Old 02.09.2020, 18:44
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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This is what I thought as well... Why exactly couldn't I get the Greek taxes back (and pay the Swiss VAT)?
If you mean why you couldn't have done it at the time: usually the merchant pays your VAT at the end of the year to the government, so when you prove to the merchant that they won't need to pay VAT (with a stamped form) - they give you the VAT back. I am not sure how this works when you paid the VAT directly to the government as part of import process (who to ask the VAT from?).
On top of that in some EU countries the VAT refund is a privilege and not a right, so it would depend on the store etc. On top of that there are min invoice amount and other factors (say for example that your billing address was not Swiss on the invoice - your refund possibility is gone).

If you mean why you can't get it today: the goods are already in Switzerland, so they can not be imported as new. If we are speaking about a non insane amount of VAT - it is probably easier to let it go (also because, if you start claiming VAT now - you are admitting that you did not pay Swiss VAT when you had to, so it's smuggling).

In general, with VAT refund there are many pieces that come into play - it is a good idea to start studying it early, before the purchase (and not getting refunds here and there because some micro bit was wrong is also part of the learning process unfortunately).
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Old 02.09.2020, 19:47
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

He didn't buy them at a Greek shop, he imported them from the US!

No chance of getting the VAT back in such a case.

Tom
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Old 02.09.2020, 19:52
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

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If OP is truly paying for the goods (gifted then or not) - he/she is taxed, and he/she has the right to be taxed according to his/her residence (fulfilling certain conditions etc.)
That's NOT how it works, the goods are taxed according to where they end up, not the importer's place of residence.

He could have claimed that they were for re-export, filled out lots of forms, etc. and MAYBE have saved some VAT, but he didn't, end of story.

Tom
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Old 03.09.2020, 11:35
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Re: VAT refund from online purchase delivered in another country

Thank you for all your replies, the discussion was enlightening.

Quote:
That's NOT how it works, the goods are taxed according to where they end up, not the importer's place of residence.

He could have claimed that they were for re-export, filled out lots of forms, etc. and MAYBE have saved some VAT, but he didn't, end of story.
That's convincing. I'll let it go.

Thanks again!
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