Tag Archives: germany

If you’re a tourist – demand a tax refund!

Stop Paying Taxes

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.

Global Refund - Tax Free ShoppingTwo 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 mPremier Tax Freeade 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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[Image by Jahat]

Free! Travel Information Delivered To Your Door!

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.

Travel BrochuresLet’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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[Image by Classroom III]

Extra! Extra! London more expensive than Warsaw

 Warsaw Royal Castle A survey by the UK Post Office Travel Service has found Warsaw to be the cheapest of ten ‘cultural captials’, with London shockingly rated as the most expensive:

For around £75 price tag tourists can enjoy a trip including visits to Warsaw’s historic art galleries, museums and heritage sites, together with nights at the renowned Polish National Opera, ballet and a symphony concert. The experience cost less than 25 per cent of the equivalent London cost. (TravelWeekly)

The survey measured the cost of admission to three top museums or galleries and three heritage sites, and tickets to an orchestral performance, opera and ballet. Prague, Lisbon and Amsterdam also fared well in the economy stakes, compared to Rome, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona and New York.

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[Image via Kevin’s Gadgets]

Emirates sale to Europe – $1,916 from Aus East Coast, $1,800 from Perth

MoscowEmirates are having an ‘Autumn Sale to Europe‘, although most of the ‘autumn’ sale fares are appear to be for travel in January and Febuary ’09, which is closer to my defintion of deepest darkest winter than autumn. Try packing for mild autumn weather if you’re off to Moscow in January.

Prices include fuel surcharge but not taxes.

Via OzBargains.

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[Image via meganpru]

European cheap sleeps

ClinkIn my round-up of tips and hints earlier today I left out this article from The Age Nights of Cheap Splendor. In hindsight I’m glad because it deserves to be highlighted, it really is a belter if you’re looking for a place to stay in Europe. Highlights include the Clink Hostel in London, a restored London courthouse, that starts at $25 a night, converted first class rail carriages in the Scottish highlands, a treehouse in Norway and Colditz castle which was (without intending to reinforce any unfair negative stereotypes of hostels) a prisoner of war camp.

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Free Westpac ATM cash withdrawals overseas

Hole in the WallDespite being a long time Westpac customer, before today I’d never heard of the (rather menancingly named) Global ATM Alliance which, apparently, allows Westpac customers to access cash without paying international access fees at ATM’s owned by Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, Barclays and Deutsche Bank. This allows reduced-fee access at ‘over 32,000 cash machines in over 40 countries’.

Regular account fees and a currency conversion fee apply.

Westpac certainly don’t seem to have done a great job at promoting this, with no mention on their ‘access your money overseas’ page. Indeed, all I could find on their website was this 2001 press release.

So has anybody used this service or have any other tips for accessing money overseas? Leave a comment.

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[Photo Creative Commons via ohad* on Flickr]

90 days don’t go so far any more

Schengen AgreementThe Sunday Telegraph had an article worth reading about the ramifactions of EU enlargement for Australian travellers to Europe. The accession of nine Eastern European countries to the EU, and to the Schengen Agreement makes it much easier for Australians to travel to those countries as a 90 day Schengen visa will be issued on arrival. However, the sting in the tail is this – because Australian travellers are still only allowed to stay in the area covered by the convention (which also includes most of Western Europe, coloured blue in the map) for ninety days in a six month period. these nine new countries are included in the same ninety days as France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, etc, the likelihood of Australian travellers wishing to exceed the total 90 days is greatly increased.

The article also observes that

An emerging problem arises from travellers booking flights themselves over the internet, and therefore being unaware of visa requirements.

Then, when they’re checking in at the airport, they discover the airline won’t carry them because their paperwork isn’t in order.

“That can obviously be a pretty big problem for the traveller, yet it happens quite frequently; it’s a pretty common occurrence,” Mr Derbyshire says.

A sage reminded to be extra careful if you’re travelling through a number of countries.

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