Tag Archives: taxes

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]

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Travel just got a little more expensive

Yesterday’s budget increased the Australian departure tax to $47, making it $9 more expensive to leave the country. Not a huge increase in itself but The Age article observes

‘The Tourism and Transport Forum had calculated that even before the latest increase, up to a fifth of the cost of some tickets consisted of government taxes and charges, including an Air Services Australia levy, a meteorological services charge and, at Sydney airport, a noise levy.’

Update:

According to the ABC passport fees will also increase by 4 per cent, and visa application fees will jump by $25. Guess I’ll get around to renewing my passport sooner rather than later.

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Some useful tools hidden in the Qantas Website

Tucked away in the innards of the Qantas website are a couple of tools that are useful for everybody, no matter which airline you are flying, that I wasn’t aware of until recently.

The first is a form which will produce a customised report of the relevant visa and health requirements, not only for your destination but also for any countries through which you will be transiting. This is particularly useful for ascertaining what vaccinations are required, whether a visa is necessary to enter OR transit thorugh a particular country and whether you will need to provide proof of an onward travel or that you possess sufficient funds for your journey. This is particularly important becauseJapan Visa not only may you be denied clearance though immigration at your destination if you cannot fulfill these requirements, but you may not even get off the ground. You may be denied boarding by the airline if you cannot convince them that you will be able to fulfill these conditions. Indeed, airlines are often stricter than overseas customs officials because should you be denied entry the airline will be required to deport you back to the flight’s country of origin at their own cost, often with a fine thrown in for good measure.

The country information search can also provide details about visa and health requirements along with passport requirements (e.g. whether a passport must be valid only for the lenght of stay or longer), airport taxes which may not be included in the ticket price, customs regulations and currency restrictions.

Both very useful tools.

Got any other great travel hints or tips? Please leave a comment!

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[Image from Paul Davidson on Flickr]