Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Help & tips > Permits/visas/government  
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12.07.2008, 10:48
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Zug, Switzerland
Posts: 2
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Wanderers has no particular reputation at present
No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Yesterday, we made our first trip from Switzerland into Konstanz, Germany since we moved to Switzerland a few months ago.

During the trip, I decided to buy some photography equipment. One of the selling points was that I was told by the vendor that I could claim the German VAT (19%) back, which makes a significant difference on the price.

In order to do so, the retailer provided me with a green form ("Ausfuhr- und Abnehmerbescheinigung für Umsatzsteuerzwecke beim Asufuhren im nichtkommerzielle Reiseverkehr") which I was told to present to the Swiss customs when re-entering Switzerland. I would then have to pay Swiss VAT (at only 7%) and Swiss Custom would certify that I had done so on this green form. As a final step, I had to bring back the completed green form to the retailer who would reimburse me the German VAT. Seemed a bit of a complicated process, but it kinda made sense to me.

The problem is that when I entered Switzerland later that evening (we took the boat from Friedrichshafen to Romanshorn), there was no custom officer to be found. No other officials (Police, border control, etc) neither for that matter. I was amazed I never had to show my passport during this entire trip.

So, I was unable to pay my Swiss VAT and, more importantly, getting my green form signed. I can therefore not claim the German VAT back, which makes the whole purchase much more expensive.

What do I do now? Can I still get this green form signed somewhere retroactively? Maybe over mail or at an airport? Any other advise on how to still claim the German VAT back?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 12.07.2008, 11:03
HAT's Avatar
HAT HAT is offline
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Zurich near Zug
Posts: 1,251
Groaned at 82 Times in 48 Posts
Thanked 703 Times in 373 Posts
HAT is considered knowledgeableHAT is considered knowledgeableHAT is considered knowledgeable
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post

In order to do so, the retailer provided me with a green form ("Ausfuhr- und Abnehmerbescheinigung für Umsatzsteuerzwecke beim Asufuhren im nichtkommerzielle Reiseverkehr") which I was told to present to the Swiss customs when re-entering Switzerland. .....

What do I do now? Can I still get this green form signed somewhere retroactively? Maybe over mail or at an airport? Any other advise on how to still claim the German VAT back?
You may have one small chance if you bring your purchase with all the papers to the customs office (any one near you) and ask them if they can endorse this "transaction".
Normally you have to stamp the form and show the merchandise on the day you LEAVE the borders and enter CH.
It looks a little too late now, but you can still try.

HAT
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12.07.2008, 11:19
AbFab's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Zürich
Posts: 8,080
Groaned at 344 Times in 234 Posts
Thanked 11,561 Times in 3,987 Posts
AbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond reputeAbFab has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Claiming back VAT on purchases in the EU is generally a great selling point for retailers, but in practice I have found it rarely works. Especially if an agent is involved who will take most of the VAT saving in commission...
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12.07.2008, 11:31
Jekyll's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Aargau
Posts: 886
Groaned at 35 Times in 26 Posts
Thanked 1,180 Times in 475 Posts
Jekyll has a reputation beyond reputeJekyll has a reputation beyond reputeJekyll has a reputation beyond reputeJekyll has a reputation beyond reputeJekyll has a reputation beyond reputeJekyll has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

It should work without any problem however you must cross the border at a crossing where there is a customs office (and within the business hours of the office). Typically these are the major road crossings where commercial goods enter Switzerland. You have to get the stamp on your green form on the day of purchase however I have succeeded in getting the stamp a week later on a couple of occasions.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12.07.2008, 11:36
gregv's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: -
Posts: 1,317
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 626 Times in 303 Posts
gregv has a reputation beyond reputegregv has a reputation beyond reputegregv has a reputation beyond reputegregv has a reputation beyond reputegregv has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Usually at the border crossing, you take the receipts to the Swiss customs window and pay Swiss tax and get stuff stamped. Then you go back to the German customs office and get the rest stamped. Eventually the shop sends you the money IIRC. A couple of the newer crossings have the Swiss and German offices in the same building.

I think technically, that you're supposed to only take items that cross the 300 chf threshold over manned border crossings, but I'm not sure what to make of the crossing with the ferry.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12.07.2008, 12:43
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Geneva
Posts: 5,531
Groaned at 123 Times in 108 Posts
Thanked 3,297 Times in 1,737 Posts
Shorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond reputeShorrick Mk2 has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Else some border posts also have "mail boxes" where you can drop the sheets to be stamped.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12.07.2008, 19:32
Shove's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 168
Groaned at 8 Times in 7 Posts
Thanked 87 Times in 51 Posts
Shove has no particular reputation at present
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post
Usually at the border crossing, you take the receipts to the Swiss customs window and pay Swiss tax and get stuff stamped. Then you go back to the German customs office and get the rest stamped. Eventually the shop sends you the money IIRC. A couple of the newer crossings have the Swiss and German offices in the same building.

I think technically, that you're supposed to only take items that cross the 300 chf threshold over manned border crossings, but I'm not sure what to make of the crossing with the ferry.

So all in all it amounts to an 11% saving on Goods at the normal VAT rate correct?
A couple of questions.
i) If I were to purchase goods in Freiburg and bring them in myself on the train is it possible to stop off at Basel (CH) and get this done?

ii) Has anybody claimed the VAT back when buying furniture in Germany and having it brought in? I wasn't sure if in doing this I would get slapped with some form of Import Tax when the items cross the border. I need to buy a few things which I am sure I could buy in Munich and ship a lot cheaper than I could buy them here.
__________________
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. ~ Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12.07.2008, 19:56
HAT's Avatar
HAT HAT is offline
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Zurich near Zug
Posts: 1,251
Groaned at 82 Times in 48 Posts
Thanked 703 Times in 373 Posts
HAT is considered knowledgeableHAT is considered knowledgeableHAT is considered knowledgeable
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post
ii) Has anybody claimed the VAT back when buying furniture in Germany and having it brought in? I wasn't sure if in doing this I would get slapped with some form of Import Tax when the items cross the border. I need to buy a few things which I am sure I could buy in Munich and ship a lot cheaper than I could buy them here.
Most of these "big item" shops, do the tax payments for you , all in one-stop. Means they pay the CH tax, claim back the DE tax.
Best of all, most of them delivery "for free", if you are within 50-100km of their nearest border.

I bought my deepfreezer and saved at least 30-40% to a SAME one here in CH. They even "installed it" and they were willing to take any "old kaputt" ones back with them.
Now, how can CH shops compete with them? I wonder.

HAT

PS: The only "reason" not to buy, could be waranty terms and quality checks questions. You must decide if this worth the "savings".
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12.07.2008, 20:08
Gav's Avatar
Gav Gav is offline
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Ireland
Posts: 969
Groaned at 15 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 468 Times in 187 Posts
Gav has a reputation beyond reputeGav has a reputation beyond reputeGav has a reputation beyond reputeGav has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post
Claiming back VAT on purchases in the EU is generally a great selling point for retailers, but in practice I have found it rarely works. Especially if an agent is involved who will take most of the VAT saving in commission...
It worked pretty well for me when I bought a PDA in London a few years back. I just went to an HRMC office at Gatwick in the departures area and upon production of the paperwork (filled in by the shop on Tottenham Court Road) and my Swiss residency permit they gave me a chit to take to one of the Bureaux de Change where I could have the VAT costs refunded on the spot.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12.07.2008, 21:13
Nev
 
Posts: n/a
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

I think the retailer may have misinformed you. The form he gave you should be presented to the EU Country customs on exit (in this case Germany) who check your passport and ticket and stamp the form that you are departing the EU with your purchases. Some high traffic border points like airports have facilities where you can take the form and get the refund at the airport before you leave. With a a lot of road border crossings that is not possible so you have to get the form stamped by German Customs and mail the form back to the retailer in Germany who will reimburse you. Usually he does that by crediting the credit card you used for the purchase. If you didn't use a credit card you probably have to go back to the retailer to get the money because he won't use cheques and won't mail cash. On your arrival in CH you are supposed to then declare the goods to Customs so Swiss VAT can be charged. Unless they changed the rules recently, Swiss Customs should have no rule in the European VAT refund process. Only Customs from the EU country you are departing need to stamp the form. If, say, the German border crossing was unmanned at the time you crossed, you can send the forms to the nearest German consulate or embassy in CH for stamping.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 13.07.2008, 00:17
Goldtop's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Zurich
Posts: 2,857
Groaned at 11 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 905 Times in 625 Posts
Goldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

I sometimes shop in Germany near the border. Procedure is:
  1. Get form from German vendor.
  2. Present form (and goods, if asked) to German customs.
  3. German customs rubber stamp the form after establishing Swiss residency.
  4. Tell Swiss customs what you bought. May be tax free. May have to pay Swiss VAT and/or Swiss import duties.
  5. Next visit to Germany take stamped form back to vendor. Get cash back equivalent to German VAT.
  6. Alternatively post form back to vendor. Some are willing to send the refund to a Swiss bank account.
I have never reentered at an unmanned crossing. This could be a hassle after Switzerland joins Schengen.
__________________
Caveat lector!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 13.07.2008, 00:24
Goldtop's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Zurich
Posts: 2,857
Groaned at 11 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 905 Times in 625 Posts
Goldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post
The problem is that when I entered Switzerland later that evening (we took the boat from Friedrichshafen to Romanshorn), there was no custom officer to be found. No other officials (Police, border control, etc) neither for that matter. I was amazed I never had to show my passport during this entire trip.

So, I was unable to pay my Swiss VAT and, more importantly, getting my green form signed. I can therefore not claim the German VAT back, which makes the whole purchase much more expensive.

What do I do now? Can I still get this green form signed somewhere retroactively? Maybe over mail or at an airport? Any other advise on how to still claim the German VAT back?
You should have had the form stamped in Friedrichshafen Germany before boarding the ferry to Romanshorn Switzerland.

If you intend another visit to Germany, you can smuggle the gadget back, request the vendor for a fresh sales-receipt and form, then bring it back through a manned German border-post.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 17.07.2008, 15:50
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Zug, Switzerland
Posts: 2
Groaned at 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Wanderers has no particular reputation at present
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Thank you all for your feedback!

Quote:
View Post
You should have had the form stamped in Friedrichshafen Germany before boarding the ferry to Romanshorn Switzerland.

If you intend another visit to Germany, you can smuggle the gadget back, request the vendor for a fresh sales-receipt and form, then bring it back through a manned German border-post.
I just contacted the German embassy and they confirmed they do not sign the document at the embassy and you cannot go back to the border post at a later time, so the option of "smuggling the gadget back" and getting a new receipt seems indeed to be the only viable option.

They referred me to the attached document (in German) for more information: Downl__D__Merkb__MWST,property=Daten.pdf

What I took away from this experience and the discussion is that:
1. It is the German customs officer that has to sign the document, not the Swiss officer
2. If you want to claim VAT back, you need to cross the border during customs "opening times". Supposedly this is published somewhere, but I have not yet been able to find this information.
3. It is best to take some extra time for all of this, as finding a customs officer may not be that easy.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 18.07.2008, 09:45
Goldtop's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Zurich
Posts: 2,857
Groaned at 11 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 905 Times in 625 Posts
Goldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post
Thank you all for your feedback!



I just contacted the German embassy and they confirmed they do not sign the document at the embassy and you cannot go back to the border post at a later time, so the option of "smuggling the gadget back" and getting a new receipt seems indeed to be the only viable option.

They referred me to the attached document (in German) for more information: Attachment 4276

What I took away from this experience and the discussion is that:
1. It is the German customs officer that has to sign the document, not the Swiss officer
2. If you want to claim VAT back, you need to cross the border during customs "opening times". Supposedly this is published somewhere, but I have not yet been able to find this information.
3. It is best to take some extra time for all of this, as finding a customs officer may not be that easy.
I searched and found this pdf document for you. It lists the opening hours of German customs posts along the Swiss frontier. It is dated 2006. Nevertheless a good indication of when and where you can get the export document stamped.
http://www.zoll.de/e0_downloads/f0_d...nststellen.pdf
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 15.08.2008, 18:26
Castro's Avatar
à la mod
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: ZG
Posts: 5,503
Groaned at 117 Times in 95 Posts
Thanked 16,402 Times in 5,220 Posts
Castro has a reputation beyond reputeCastro has a reputation beyond reputeCastro has a reputation beyond reputeCastro has a reputation beyond reputeCastro has a reputation beyond reputeCastro has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post
I searched and found this pdf document for you. It lists the opening hours of German customs posts along the Swiss frontier. It is dated 2006. Nevertheless a good indication of when and where you can get the export document stamped.
http://www.zoll.de/e0_downloads/f0_d...nststellen.pdf
With my limited German I am struggling with that form. Could someone please do me a favour and tell me which of the German/Basel border admin offices will be open tomorrow (Saturday) around 16:00 so I can get my export forms stamped just prior to entering CH.

Cheers
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 15.08.2008, 20:33
Goldtop's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Zurich
Posts: 2,857
Groaned at 11 Times in 11 Posts
Thanked 905 Times in 625 Posts
Goldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond reputeGoldtop has a reputation beyond repute
Re: No customs officer in sight ... now what?

Quote:
View Post
With my limited German I am struggling with that form. Could someone please do me a favour and tell me which of the German/Basel border admin offices will be open tomorrow (Saturday) around 16:00 so I can get my export forms stamped just prior to entering CH.

Cheers
Your best bet is the main motorway from Freiburg (D) to Basel (CH). Customs office definitely working Saturdays till 13:00. Extended hours till 21:45 under certain conditions, which I cannot interpret because they use unfamiliar customs abbreviations.

The motorway crossing at Rheinfelden could be a good choice, too. Customs office at Basel/Riehen is definitely not open.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank Goldtop for this useful post:
Reply

Tags
customs, duties, germany, import, vat




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Swiss customs dayamax Permits/visas/government 1 20.04.2008 10:38
customs clearness maor Business & entrepreneur 11 03.04.2008 11:23
Not a mamak stall in sight. Guest Complaints corner 4 10.01.2008 13:54
Aeronautical Engineer (Officer in NZ Airforce) seeking employment: Jul08 for 6-9mths Prudie Employment 6 14.12.2007 10:06


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 23:16.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0