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.
- 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.
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.
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
|Value||VAT Refund in Swiss Franc||VAT Refund in %|
|300 CHF||15 CHF||5,00%|
|500 CHF||23 CHF||4,60%|
|1000 CHF||49 CHF||4,90%|
|2000 CHF||104 CHF||5,20%|
|3000 CHF||160 CHF||5,33%|
|4000 CHF||224 CHF||5,60%|
|5000 CHF||285 CHF||5,70%|
|6000 CHF||344 CHF||5,73%|
|7000 CHF||405 CHF||5,79%|
|8000 CHF||480 CHF||6,00%|
|9000 CHF||539 CHF||5,99%|
|10000 CHF||630 CHF||6,30%|