I just returned from a trip to France and Spain. We returned from Barcelona to New York with a plane change in Paris. In Barcelona I was told I needed to get the necessary stamps in Paris, but the flight was delayed and I didn't have time to do that. Does anybody know how to get the VAT back once you are in the USA?
You might try to write to the French Consulate nearest you and send them your paperwork, copy of your passport and airline tickets, etc. Explain your situation and then ask them if they could stamp the VAT tax papers for you, so you can return them to the address they should have been mailed to in Europe. The German Consulate in New York did this once for me, so the French might do the same thing for you, although, it is totally at their discretion. Since the French do not like the Americans, they might turn a deaf ear.... but you never know, it's worth a try.... If you live in NYC, try to give them a call.... You might do the same with the Spanish Consulate and see if they would be of more help.
I have found that the VAT tax is often very hard to collect and if it is not a substantial amount, it seams hardly worth the bother. Hope you get yours back.... Good Luck
I have never had a problem yet at collecting VAT. It is very important to get your papers stamped at the place of purchase. I'm afraid that if your papers are not stamped though, you are out of luck. It would be too easy to leave items in the visiting country for family & freinds, and try to collect without a stamp once reaching home.
Hi all ...22go you are certainly organizedI never remember to collect VAT tax - even canada will reimburse you but when on vacation I do not think of stamps - paperwork etcI agree with an earlier blog that unless it is a great deal of money it is not worth the effort Happy travels ...Funtimes
Count yourself lucky if you have never had a problem collecting the VAT tax due you. If you travel through several countries and make purchases in these various countries, it is the country from which you return to the United States that you have to have all your VAT tax papers stamped by the customs office, regardless of where you bought your items. Say you travel to Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and then leave Europe from France, it is at the French airport of embarkation that you need to have all your VAT tax papers stamped. None of the other countries will stamp your papers since you are still traveling within Europe. If you encounter flight delays between countries, you might very well not have the time to have your paper work stamped at the last airport before returning to the US. Therein often lies the difficulty of collecting your VAT tax if you cannot get the papers work stamped.
If it is a minor amount, you might forget it, but if a large amount is concerned, it might be a worthwhile try to contact the consulate here in the US. Unfortunately, there are no written rules, and it is totally at the discretion of the person on whose desk your paperwork winds up. So Good Luck!!!
Gosh, it almost sounds like you have not had much luck with the VAT. Okay so let's say that I arrive in Italy, drive to Switzerland, France etc., buy a few things along the way. Make sure that all the paper work is in order from the merchants ( I believe you need to spend about 150.00 Euro at each retailer). Switzerland, I remember getting my forms stamped at the border crossing. Then returned to Italy to depart from Rome were I would get all the forms stamped at the airport included the items I purchased in France, making sure that everything that I bought was available for the agent to see. My first choice would be to collect the refund in cash at the airport in euros. It has also happened that I have given them my credit card, and the refund came through within a month. This has been my experience up to now.
I had my fair share of troubles collecting the VAT tax, but I try to collect it whenever I can. It is true that you need to get your paperwork stamped at the customs office at the airport from which you return to the US. As you mentioned, you must also have the items with you when you present your paper work to the customs' officer since he might ask you to show the items you purchased. Since the Schengen agreement, there are no longer any borders when you cross from one country into another in the European Union. Switzerland is one of the exceptions where you still have a border crossing and therefore must have your VAT tax papers stamped when you leave Switzerland. As to the amount of a minimum, you mention 150 Euros, this varies greatly from store to store and from country to country. The same goes for the length of time elapsed from the time of purchase, for some countries it is 3 months and others will give you six months. So it pays to read the fine print and either collect the cash in Euros right then and there or mail in the paperwork as soon as you return home. If you purchased your items by credit card, you can elect to have the VAT tax reimbursed to your credit card once the papers have been stamped by customs.
Usually, when you rent a car and drive through the various countries and make purchases, there is little problem to get your paperwork stamped at the airport at the customs office where you return to the US. The problem arises, when you fly, as in ereisner's case, from Barcelona, Spain to Paris, France to the US and the plane is delayed. Barcelona's customs office will not stamp the VAT tax paperwork because, as far as they are concerned you are leaving the European Union from Paris , France. However, because of the plane's delay, you no longer have the time it takes to run to the customs' office at the Paris airport to get your paperwork stamped and collect your VAT Tax. That is where you usually lose the VAT tax, unless you can get the consulate stamp the paperwork for you.
Just an update. I called the French consulate in NY and they were very nice. they said just to bring the receipts and other paperwork and the items and they would be happy to stamp them for me. Unfortunately, when I was ready to do that, I discovered that I had lost the receipts. Oh well. Thank you to all of the people who contributed their ideas. Next trip is to italy and it will definately involve only nonstop flights with no connections.