Travellers can often claim back local sales tax on high-value goods you’ll be ‘exporting’. Whenever you make a purchase overseas it’s worth asking whether you can seek a refund of sales tax – it is possible throughout most of Europe but not for GST paid in New Zealand, for instance. Local regulations vary but this often involves having the goods and reciept stamped by customs before you depart. You may be paid on the spot, but more frequently you need to mail the stamped form back to the place of purchase for a refund check or electronic credit.
Two services Global Tax Refund Tax Free Shopping and Premier Tax Free promise to simplify the process of reimbursement in many (overwealmingly European) countries, although whether you’re interested in the services or not the websites are useful for a guide to European sales tax rates and restrictions (e.g. time limit for export or refund claims).
Both services are designed to simplify and streamline the process and allow you to be reimbursed immediately at their airport kiosk for purchases previously made at participating merchants who display relevant logo. If you forget or don’t have a chance to claim at the airport you will often be able to access the refund by mailing the documents from home, but check this in advance. Global Tax Free is the larger with some 230,000 participating merchants in 35 countries, Premier claims around of 75,000 ‘retail partners’ across 15 countries. Both websites offer shopping guides containing a list of participating merchants and specific details of the claims process for each country.
Both of these systems charge a percentage commission (around 4%) for the service, which may or may not be a fair price for avoiding dealings with the local beuracracy.
For a good guide to tax refunds for travellers in Europe see Rick Steves’ guide.
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Tagged argentina, australia, budget, Czech Republic, england, europe, finance, france, germany, global tax refund, gst, holiday, jordan, money, new zealand, premier tax free, rick steves, sales tax, singapore, spain, tax, tax refund, taxes, travel, uk, vacation, vat
The internet is an incredible free source of destination information, but it can’t quite match the thrill of receiving a whole envelope full of free glossy brochures of beautiful people streched out before vistas of azure oceans. Here are two great sources of free travel information delivered to your door; one defintely useful, the perhaps somewhat other less so.
Let’s start with the best. Tourism authorities are a fantastic and often-overlooked source of travel information – particularly for decent free maps and basic info with lots of glossy pictures. ANTOR’s* represents 48 official tourism authorities (including the Australian State authorities) and the destination info page provides (along side some basic travel info) the URL, email address and contact details for all of them. If you’re interested in any major destination for Australian travellers it will be listed. Simply email the relevant authority with your address, rough dates of travel and as far as possible the specific regions or cities you’re interested in and wait for the postie everyday for a week or so! No substitute for a good guidebook or your own research but generally there will be at least a couple of genuinely useful items in the material sent.
TravelBrochures.com.au and TravelBrochures.SMH.com.au are another clearing house for free travel information, although arguably of a must less useful nature. These sites allow to order free tour company brochures, some of which are available in digital (tree-saving) format. All the majors are available as well as a few smaller operators – useful if you wish to compare tours from a number of companies or can’t get to a travel agent. Of course some major operators now send out (often unintenionally comical) DVDs as as a bonus! Be warned, however, apart from ending up on a tour (which may or may not be a bad thing in itself…), you are likely to end up on a mailing list of the tour companies from which it may be difficult to extract yourself!
*(Association of National Tourist Office Representatives in Australasia)
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Tagged ACT, argentina, asia, australia, austria, bali, brazil, britain, brunei, canada, chile, china, contiki, cook islands, Denmark, dubai, england, europe, fiji, finland, france, free, germany, globus, greece, holiday, Hong Kong, Iceland, india, insight vacations, intrepid, intrepid travel, ireland, israel, italy, japan, korea, Macau, malaysia, mauritius, new caledonia, new zealand, northern territory, norway, papua new guinea, peru, Philippines, Poland, Sabah, scotland, singapore, solomon islands, south africa, south america, south australia, spain, Sri Lanka, sweden, switzerland, tahiti, tasmania, thailand, tours, trafalgar, travel, uk, united states, us, vacations, vanuatu, victoria, wales, western australia