Guide To Tax Refund In Switzerland

Switzerland is very near the EU countries and it’s also a famous place to travel. This country has beautiful landscapes, Alps and if you love skiing, this is the place to be. However, beware if you go shopping in Europe and Switzerland because Switzerland is not using the euro currency and is not a EU member. If you buy goods in Switzerland, you cannot apply for tax refund in the EU. And the same goes when you buy goods in the EU, you will not be able to apply for tax refund in Switzerland.

Tax refund guide per country

So:

  • when you buy goods in Switzerland, make sure you get your tax refund before crossing the borders to Europe.
  • when you go from Europe to Switzerland, make sure you tax refund the goods in Europe before crossing the borders to Switzerland. (Unless you go back to Europe afterwards).

What is VAT?

VAT means Value Added Tax, it’s the same as Sales Tax in US and GST in Australia. VAT in Switzerland is only 8% and it’s much lower comparing to the VAT rate in Europe, which are usually around 19 – 24%. However, lower VAT doesn’t mean that the prices in Switzerland are cheaper. In fact, it can be more expensive. We will give you more details about the pricing differences between Switzerland and Europe on designer goods like Chanel, Celine, Louis Vuitton bags and so on.

tax-refund-switzerland

Who are eligible to apply for VAT Refund?

People with permanent resident outside Switzerland and tourist. Citizens of Samnaun can also apply for the VAT refund. (Samnaun is a high Alpine village and a valley at the eastern end of Switzerland.

Minimum purchase

The minimum purchase value is 300 CHF in order to be eligible for VAT refund.

Time limit for Customs Approval

Starting on the day of purchase, you need to claim the VAT refund within 30 days.

How to claim your VAT refund back in Switzerland?

1. Check whether the store participates to the VAT refund program
Does this store participates to the tax refund program? Not all stores do, so either check the tax-free sign on the storefront or ask the staff directly.

2. At the checkout: the Tax Free Form
At the cashier, ask the Shopping Assistant for the Tax Free Form, which is also known as Refund Cheque. Fill in the form with details about the goods. The Shopping Assistant will also help you with this. Keep the Tax Free Form safe together with the original receipts.

3. Your goods need to be sealed and unused
Make sure your goods are sealed and unused before presenting to the customs (when you’re going to leave Switzerland).

“Don’t check-in with the purchased goods before you have processed the VAT refund. The Customs might want to inspect your goods.”

3. At the airport (or borders)
When you’re about to leave Switzerland, find the customs to get a stamp. Present the following information:

  • The Tax Free Forms
  • The original receipts
  • Purchased goods (sealed)
  • Your passport
  • International travel ticket

4. Find the Tax Refund Service Counter
Now that you’ve got your Tax Free form stamped, you will need to find the Tax Refund Service Counter to process your tax refund. Usually these are agents or affiliate companies located near the customs. If you don’t know where they’re located, you can ask the custom for direction.

At the Tax Refund Service Counter, present the Tax Fee Form with custom stamp, your passport or credit card (if you want a refund via credit card)

5. The payment
There are two ways to get your money back.

  • You can choose for credit card
  • Or you can ask for an immediate refund in cash

It’s always better to receive in cash because it’s instant return. Credit card can take some time and if something goes wrong, you need to call from abroad to fix the problem.

VAT refund overview in Switzerland

ValueVAT Refund in Swiss FrancVAT Refund in %
300 CHF15 CHF5,00%
500 CHF23 CHF4,60%
1000 CHF49 CHF4,90%
2000 CHF104 CHF5,20%
3000 CHF160 CHF5,33%
4000 CHF224 CHF5,60%
5000 CHF285 CHF5,70%
6000 CHF344 CHF5,73%
7000 CHF405 CHF5,79%
8000 CHF480 CHF6,00%
9000 CHF539 CHF5,99%
10000 CHF630 CHF6,30%

2 Comments

  1. Lea July 2, 2018 Reply

    Hi,

    Also would like to know in case i will do my shopping in Paris but still i have to travel to other EU countries and will leave from Rome going back in Dubai.

    How to claim my tax refund for the goods i have purchased from Paris?
    Thanks,
    lea

    • Author
      Alex July 5, 2018 Reply

      So you buy all the goods anywhere in Europe. When you’re in Rome, go early to the airport. Show the custom all your documents and let them see the physical goods (so don’t put them in the luggage and check-in yet). Custom will give you a stamp on the doc. Then find a tax-refund counter/company that process the tax-refund form. You can choose cash or credit card. With cash its easier, with credit card it will take longer but the tax-refund rate is a big higher. See the link in your other comments for full guidance.

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