How to Get your Tax Refund at Rome Fiumicino Airport

The Process for claiming your Tax Refund at Rome Fiumicino Airport:

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There are lots of advice on the internet on the process to follow to get your VAT refund at Rome Fiumicino Airport. From our experience at Terminal 3 of Rome Fiumicino Airport, things have changed a little.
Note: The Customs offices for VAT tax reimbursements are located in the Departures Areas of Terminals T1, T3 and T5.

To  claim your VAT refund at Rome Fiumicino Airport, you have to show your goods, invoices and your VAT Refund Form to the Customs officials who will then stamp your documentation if they are satisfied that the goods presented match your Refund Form. This requirement has not changed.

Two methods for getting your tax refund processed at Rome Fiumicino Airport:

Option 1:

If you are hand-carrying your purchases, it’s easier to do your airline check-in and then go straight through passport and security control first.  Just after the passport control there is a Customs Desk where you can get your Tax refund form stamped.  Next door to the Customs office are the Global Blue and Premier Tax Free desks where you can have your VAT refund paid in cash or credited to your credit card.  Not many people are aware of this option.

Option 2:

If you’ve done a lot of shopping and wish to pack your shopping into your checked-in baggage, the process is as follows:

  • You must first do your airline check-in and obtain your boarding pass. VAT Refund can only be processed at your final point of departure from the EU and your boarding pass provides evidence of your next destination. Advise the airline check-in personnel that you’d like your luggage back as you need to do your VAT refund.
  • With your tagged luggage, boarding pass, passport, goods purchased and tax refund form, go to the Customs Tax Refund Office which, at Terminal 3, is next to the Departure gate. Once you’ve satisfied Customs that you have all the goods that you’re claiming the tax refund for, your documentation will be stamped and you can then pack all your goods into your case. The case must be deposited at a dedicated baggage channel next to the customs office
  • Your stamped tax refund documents can then be :
    (1) deposited in the mail boxes provided by the respective tax refund companies (such as Global Blue or Premier Tax Free), or
    (2) if you have time, you can go to the Global Blue or Premier Tax Free desks to have your VAT processed.
    Generally I prefer not to mail the VAT Refund forms as it can take months before the claim by mail is processed,  and then again there’s no guarantee that it will happen.  If you are dropping your claim form in the mail box, it is a good idea to take a copy of your document so that if your claim goes missing, you will have some records to follow up with – just take a snap of the forms with your camera.
    If you have time to queue at the Global Blue or Premier Tax Free desks, you can have your VAT processed there and then.  You have a choice of a refund in cash or credited to your credit card. Although there is a fee for cash refund, I prefer to have the cash in hand.  There have been complaints by travellers who chose the credit card option, only to have their VAT refund reversed at a later date and on top of that to have a penalty applied.  When this happens, it’s very difficult to get any kind of recourse to the problem.  Having said that, many of our readers here have gone down the credit card route and have not encountered any problems.

Please note that the above information is updated, to the best of our knowledge, but things can change at Rome Fiumicino.  We advise you to check with your airline and other sources as well.
**If you’ve been to Rome Fiumicino recently and are aware of any changes, please do drop me a line to share this information for the benefit of other travellers.**

Warning:

The number of times that we’ve used Option 2, we found the process to be excruciatingly slow and painful. If you are unlucky enough to be caught behind Asian tour groups who usually are keen shoppers, the wait-time can be lengthy.   If you’re doing a lot of shopping in Rome, you should allow ample time to get your tax refund document stamped.

 

Do YOU have any ideas on this? Please comment.

Comments

  1. avatarRobert Way says

    We made a purchase in Venice, behind St. Marco square. Nearby, there is a Vat Refund Kiosk. We presented our purchase invoice, passports, etc. He said everything was in order and gave us an instant refund. We thought, gee, that was great service.

    Lo and behold, on returning to Canada, the Refund Office in Rome, had reversed the transaction and charged the VAT back on our Credit Card.

    From my experience the VAT refund business is a scam. To whom can one make a complaint?

    Robert W

  2. avatar says

    Robert,

    Sorry to hear of your bad experience. When it comes to VAT refund in Italy, I’ve learned that the surest way of getting your money back is to process your claim at the Customs office at the airport and then again to go for the cash refund. The last time, due to time pressure, I dropped my claim form in their dedicated mail box, the refund never came.

    You can lodge your complaint with the Azienda di Promozione Turistica Venezia (Venice Tourist Promotion Board).

    APT della Provincia di Venezia
    Castello 5050, 30122 Venezia
    Tel. 041.5298711 fax 041.5230399
    E-mail: info@turismovenezia.it

    Clause 3 (10) of their charter says that “It accepts and forwards notifications of disservices and complaints…..” .

    http://www.turismo.provincia.venezia.it

    You could also try writing to your local Italian Embassy and see if they can give your further advice.

    Good luck with the complaint.

    Kind regards,
    Helen

  3. avatarCameron says

    Robert – the reason your refund was reveresed, was that you didn’t show your goods and get the Tax Refund form stamped by Italy Customs. The method you used is great for gettting the VAT back quick, but does not exempt you from showing Customs the goods as you leave the EU.

  4. avatarcatherine a. meyer says

    Der Helen,
    I have bought for 954.90 euros – on the 22 april, and since now did not receive on my account the amount of tax refund- I gave my account number but not my credit card- was it a mistake?

    what shall I do-

    many thanks for answering my question-
    catherine

    • avatar says

      Dear Catherine,
      Firstly, tax refunds do take a long processing time – anything from 6 to 12 months is possible. That’s why my preference is always to get a cash refund at the airport, if possible.
      You would have used the refund service of either Global Blue or Premier Tax Free when you lodged your tax refund claim .

      Premier has Track My Refund form that you can complete. However, a compulsory field is your Voucher Number. If you deposited your forms at the airport, it is unlikely that you will have this number. However, you’ve got nothing to lose by trying.
      http://www.premiertaxfree.com/en/index.php/tourist/refund-tracking-system

      If you’ve used the Global Blue service, they do say that bank account payments are only for “Bank account issued in the country of purchase”, i.e. if you shopped in Italy, they will only pay to an Italian bank account. Below link takes you to their contact page. Also, they do need you to provide the Global Blue voucher number.
      http://www.global-blue.com/traveller-services/tax-free-shopping/contact-us/

      Catherine, getting your tax refund is a rather challenging exercise, so by all means give it a go, but don’t be surprised if nothing comes of it.

      Good luck and Kind regards,
      Helen

  5. avatarDany Karp says

    The whole procedure at Fiumicino is a typical Italian scam in order to not give you any refund. First you have to know the procedure in order to arrive early ( a real challenge considering the traffic) then you have to KNOW to pack all shopping goods in a separate carry-on, stay on a long line at check-in ( Italy has no Web check in), then stay on a second line to have the forms stamped, unpack the carry on and show item by item the purchased goods, then stay on a third line to get your refund. If you are late, if you have packed the goods into your main luggage,you will have to carry THAT luggage, unpack THAT luggage, you will never make it or your luggage will never make it to your flight as you surrender it at a different counter then the flight’s counter and with the “professionally” and “integrity” Italian touch it will more than surely be messed up. If one has gone through Paris, London, Amsterdam, Frankfort or other EU airports you will immediately see the scam at Fiumicino. BTW has anyone ever paid for table cover anywhere in Europe EXCEPT for Italy ??

  6. avatarJill says

    Hello: I bought some jewelry in Italy and received a form called “GLobal Refund Cheque”. The merchant did not charge me the VAT tax, but explained that i had to have the form stamped at the airport or else the tax would be imposed later via my credit card. The signs at the airport indicated that the stamp could be obtained in Terminal C, my departure Terminal. I therefore checked my bags went through security and arrived in Terminal C, only to be told that the VAT Tax kiosk was closed. I would have to go to Terminal H, which I could’nt do because i would have missed my flight. I called AMEX from the airport and they made a note of it. But this seems like a total scam. Has anyone else had a similar experience that they succeeded in keeping the VAT tax off their credit card bill even without a stamp? If so, how did you do it? Thanks for any advice.

    • avatarJulie P says

      I purchased jewellery in Florence earlier this year. The retailer informed me that they would not charge VAT at the time of purchase but provided me with Global Blue form which I had to have stamped by Customs on leaving Italy. I followed the procedure to the letter – produced item of jewellery to Customs at Malpensa Airport had the form stamped and placed it in the marked Global Blue box. On my return home Global Blue has charged the VAT to my credit card, which I disputed, however my credit card provider has found in favour of Global Blue and the debit stands. I now have no paperwork or Customs stamp to enable me to apply for a refund of VAT. Regards Julie

      • avatar says

        Hi Julie,
        I don’t know what went wrong in your case, but unfortunately if you don’t have any paperwork to followup on your dispute, the situation is quite futile. Did Global Blue provide a reason for charging you the VAT? In the future, do take a snap of your tax refund form before you deposit it into the Global Blue or Premier Tax Free box.

        Regards,
        Helen

  7. avatarRobert O says

    Hi Helen, We too went through the queue at Fiumicino Airport at Terminal 3 but had no problems and the wait wasn’t too bad. We, however, are still waiting for our VAT refunds. Out problem has to do with overlooking getting one of our Tax Refund Cheque stamped by Customs. We simply forgot to show it. Is there anyway that you are aware of how we can now get the form stamped by Customs since we are now back in Australia? Our situation is that we didn’t pay the VAT but if we don’t get the form stamped by Customs then we will have to pay it. Any advice would be gratefully received. Kind regards, Rob

    • avatar says

      Hi Robert,
      In instances where the retailer does not charge the VAT, they will be ultimately be responsible for paying the VAT to Customs if they don’t get the stamped documents back from you. Hence they will then charge the VAT paid back to you.

      Yours is a difficult situation as Customs will usually want to see the goods before providing the Customs stamp, i.e. they need to be satisfied that the goods are being exported from the EU.

      You could try writing to the Customs Bureau (Agenzia delle Dogane), explaining your situation and perhaps attach a copy of the Tax Refund Cheque and a photo of the goods purchased. Ask their advice on what can be done.

      Below are contact details.

      Agenzia delle Dogane
      Via Mario Carucci, 71
      00143 Roma

      Give it a try as as you have nothing to lose, but don’t get your hopes up too much given all the above comments.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

      • avatarMarcia Howard says

        Still waiting on a refund. The lady that was working in the queue at the Refunds counter at Rome Flumicino, (can’t remember the name of the agency that does refunds) said it could be a couple of weeks until we see a refund as it is a busy time of year. The queue was too long to wait for a refund and it took some time to find customs and the refund office near the passport queue.
        It’s been three weeks now. I’ll let you know how we get on.

  8. avatarsohel says

    Hi..
    i am travelig from bangladesh-germany-italy-bangladesh. i shopped tax free at nuremberg in germany but in nurembreg airport there is no such refund booth. Can i claim this in Fiumicino airport to my way back to bangladesh?

    • avatar says

      Your VAT can only be claimed at the final point of exiting the EU. As Italy is your final exit point of exit, Fiumicino Airport is where you should claim for your VAT refund. Please be sure to allow yourself plenty of time as the queues can be long especially during the peak trav el season.

      Kind regards,
      Helen Page

    • avatarsohel says

      Hi…
      It went well, i got the refund, though it was too low an amount(100Eur)
      But italy Govt has a new rule that only upto 1000 Eur can be refunded as cash. any amount beyond 1000Eur will be refunded by credit card.

      Thanks again..
      take care!

      • avatar says

        Glad you got your VAT refunded and thanks for sharing in regard to 1000 EUR cash limit. Although I would say that most visitors would be below that limit.

        Kind regards,
        Helen Page

  9. avatarJo says

    hello, i was just wondering if there are helpful phrases or words in italian to help me get my VAT refund at FCO airport? The goods I have are only hand carried. Hope you guys can share. Thanks.

    • avatar says

      Jo, the important thing is to follow the process, i.e. you must show your goods, your receipt and VAT refund form to the Customs officials who will stamp your form if they are satisfied that the goods purchased and documentation match.

      Unless the goods that you have are really unusual, they won’t expect you to explain anything in Italian. Of course, it is always nice to be able to say good morning or good afternoon in Italian and thank you.

      Kind regards,
      Helen Page

  10. avatarChong says

    Hi Helen, just a quick check with you. Does the goods purchased need to be new and unused in order to claim back the VAT refund? For example bags and shoes. Thanks.

    • avatar says

      Hi Chong,
      The merchandise must be unused to be eligible for VAT Refund, although I must admit to having worn a jacket or two during the holidays. Your goods have to be exported within three months of purchase.

      Kind regards,
      Helen Page

      • avatar says

        Hi Helen,

        actually there is a restriciton. Goods have to be exported in new state. This means you should not use your new goods to prevent any extra hassle at Customs.

        Global Blue and Premiere taxfree are not the only companies facilitating tax-free. We are new (six years) and far more informative and empowering for travellers in the EU.

        Cheers,

        Sacha
        team vatfree.com

  11. avatarlisa says

    Hi Helen,

    I will be departing FCO at Terminal 5 back to the States, is there any VAT counter there for Hand Carried and Check-in Luggage? If so, is that the same procedure as in Terminal 3?

    Also, I understand that it could take up a long time to go thru the process, would 2.5 hours be sufficient for both check in and going thru all those tax refund procedure? Thanks

    • avatar says

      Lisa,
      I’ve not been to Terminal 5, but I would imagine that the procedure is the same as for T3. The link below takes you to the map pages for Rome Fiumicino Airport. Select the Terminal 5 map and you’ll see where the VAT Refund desk is – just past Security Control.

      People who do a lot of shopping tend to do their VAT process and then check-in their shopping as its cumbersome lugging their shopping around the airport. This first VAT processing point is where the crowd is.

      There is usually a smaller number of people who hand-carry their shopping and who do their VAT process after Security Control. This is where you can get cash refund and I prefer this method wherever possible.

      T5 is only for flights to the U.S. and Israel so it should be less crowded than T3. As each airline has different procedures, I suggest you ring your airline and confirm with them the check-in time for Rome and then allow some extra time for VAT Refund.

      http://www.adr.it/web/aeroporti-di-roma-en-/pax-fco-airport-map

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  12. avatarlisa says

    Hi Helen,

    As mentioned in your article, “or if you prefer cash you can claim this once you’ve passed through Immigration.”, so where exactly is it? Is it at a VAT counter or what does the sign say to get the cash refund? And is it always a long line-up there?

    Thanks.

  13. avatarAmir says

    Hi Helen,
    My name is Amir Iqbal Bin Ahmad Tajjudin, a Malaysian tourist who was in Italy few weeks back. I have a big problem with VAT charges. Just today it appeared on my Visa was a 243.00 EUR (double from what was refunded to me at the Global Blue booth in Firenze) charge from Global Blue “VAT NO-STAMP”. My form was stamped and dropped off at the indicated box attached to the wall of the Global Blue booth in Torino airport prior to my departure.. Prior to dropping it off I even spoke to a Global Blue employee in the booth just to be sure. She said to me all the forms are picked up at the end of each day and processed immediately.I obtained a VAT refund from Global Blue, and then followed procedures correctly. I am disappointed with this outcome because it involves a lot of money, and that their incompetence is the one that is causing it.

    Any advise i can ponder on?

    Thanks a lot.

    • avatar says

      Hi Amir,
      I’m sorry to hear of your disappointing experience with your Global Blue VAT refund.

      When you say that your form was “stamped and dropped off at the indicated box….”, did you show your goods to the Italian Customs at Torino Airport and did your get your form stamped by them? It is the Customs stamp that is required and without that they can reverse the refund that they paid you in Firenze. The tax refund booths in the city make it easy for visitors to get their VAT refunded, but they do charge for the service.

      1. You can try writing to Global Blue and request their assistance.
      http://www.global-blue.com/traveller-services/tax-free-shopping/contact-us/

      2. If you think the amount charged to you is unreasonable, try having a chat to VISA and get their advice on querying the charge.

      I fully appreciate your disappointment and wish you all the best in getting a positive outcome.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

      • avatarAmir says

        Hey Helen,

        Thanks so much for your prompt response.

        Yes, i have shown the items bought and had it stamped at the Torino Airport. Now they are charging double of what was being reimbursed to me.

        Is there any way i can get it reversed?

        Thanks

        • avatar says

          Hi Amir,

          As mentioned above, you can ring your VISA card provider and tell them that you would like to dispute the amount. If you go to your credit card provider’s website or VISA and look up “credit card charge disputes and chargebacks”, it explains to you what the process is.
          Have a chat to your credit card provider and explain to them your issue is, i.e. (1) you did have the VAT Form stamped by Italian Customs and (2) the debit by Global Blue is double what they refunded you.
          Your card provider would be able to explain to you what the process is.

          Amir, chasing VAT refunds can be a stressful exercise but if you’ve been wrongly charged the 243 EUROs, then you should definitely pursue the matter through your VISA card provider. It does take time for disputes to be resolved so be patient.

          Good luck and whatever the outcome, please share it here as it might help others.

          Kind regards,
          Helen

          • avatarAndrea says

            I can say in that case don’t take cash in city if you are not on yellow form.
            Yellow forms ( you find this company just in italy ) will not debit anything more than what they gave you if you don’t stamp the form if the refund is under 500 euros ( quite a lot anyway ).
            You get 350 in city, you don’t stamp, you get debit for 350 eurs.
            Debit fee is always put by the card company ( taking 300 euros from a card cost 300 + someting ) but under 500 euros this debit fee is paid by the TaxRefund company ( TaxRefund is the name of the yellow form company in italy ).

  14. avatarDiana says

    Hi Helen,

    I will be leaving Rome for Singapore via a transit in Amsterdam and will have to get my Tax refund papers stamped at Customs in Fiumicino (Terminal 1). Would you know if I should get the papers stamped in Rome or in Amsterdam? Is there a difference to the processes if I hand-carry my purchase or if I pack them in my check-in luggage? What will your recommendation be?

    Thanks in advance!

    Diana

    • avatar says

      Hi Diana,

      The rule is that your VAT refund should be processed at the final point before exiting the EU.

      If the goods that you bought are in your carry-on luggage, you must obtain the Customs Stamp at the last European Airport you transit through (in your case Amsterdam). If however your transit time in Amsterdam is short, you can explain this to the Customs at Fiumicino Airport and request them to stamp your form.

      If the goods that you bought are to be checked in your check-in luggage, you must obtain the Customs stamp in the last European Airport where you check-in and always before you actually send your luggage. If your ticket is for Rome – Singapore, your bag will be interlined to Singapore even though you are transiting in Amsterdam. However, if you’ve booked two separate tickets, for example if you booked online a budget airline ticket from Rome to Amsterdam and then a KLM ticket from Amsterdam to Singapore you will find that you won’t be able to interline your bag to Singapore. In this case you will be claiming your bag in Amsterdam and then checking in and doing Customs again in Amsterdam. In this latter scenario, your VAT Refund stamp for your checked in shopping will be at Schiphol Airport.

      Generally, if I don’t have bulky goods, I prefer hand-carrying and getting a cash refund at Fiumicino airport as you’re less likely to be faced with the issue of your tax form going missing or claims that you did not have your form stamped (see previous comment). However, as you are leaving from T1, which are for Schengen flights, I don’t believe there are tax refund desks there that will pay you cash refunds. You may wish to check this with your airline. If there’s no possibility of getting a cash refund, you might as well check in your goods.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  15. avatarPauline says

    Hello Helen,

    Do i absolutely need a boarding pass when i approach the customs office with my purchases and tax refund forms? I am considering to get the stamps first before i check in.

    Additionally, if i opt to get cash (assuming there is time), do i get it after i clear immigrations (inside the restricted zone)? or are the refund points located outside the restricted zones (i.e before going thru the immigration?)

    thanks for your advice.

    • avatar says

      Hi Pauline,

      Your boarding pass is evidence of two tax refund requirements:
      1. that you are leaving the country and
      2. that you are flying to a non-EU destination.
      Without the boarding pass, Customs will not stamp your tax refund forms.

      If you hand-carry your purchases and want to get cash, the refund desk is past Passport Control, i.e. inside the restricted zone as you mentioned.

      Unless things have changed, I’m only aware of the cash refund point past Passport Control. There are Refund Points in the city where you can process your tax refund before leaving, however they charge for the service and more importantly, if they don’t get your Customs stamped document in the mail, they can reverse the refund and you will be out of pocket more than the refund you received. See Amir’s experience two comments up from yours.

      For tax refunds you have to stick to the process as many travellers have come unstuck due to not following the rules – sometimes through no fault of theirs.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  16. avatarPauline says

    hello helen,

    thanks for your advice. some updates from my side, i am back in sin on wed and the tax refund procedure for me is thankfully smooth and quick.

    i took your advice ; check in / get my boarding pass, went to customs / get stamped, deposit my luggage just next to customs office, went to gate H to get the cash and all i took was 1.5 hours. (i only had to mail one refund, hopefully i get it back). i arrived in the airport 3 hours before my flight took off.

    i was really lucky that i did not get caught in a long line and also no question/check by the customs officer. (i did open my luggage immediately for him to do an easy check, all purchases in that luggage).
    in fact the customs officer is pretty helpful and friendly.

    once again thanks for sharing the good advice on this :)

    • avatar says

      Hi Pauline,

      I’m glad to hear that your Fiumicino Airport tax refund went smoothly for you and thanks for taking the time to share your positive news.

      It’s nice to hear good news for a change.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  17. avatarirene says

    Hi helen,
    I am flying back from Rome to Malaysia ,I would like to hand carry my goods and get cash refund ,
    places I have bought things are paris, swiss, italy -last stop flying out fco airport .
    I am depart T3 . what is the best and fastest way and how many hours ahead I must be at airport .

    thanks

    irene

    • avatar says

      Hi Irene,
      Please see previous query and feedback by Pauline. The last time I was in Rome, I was caught behind a long queue at the Customs desk and waited for 40 minutes. In the end I didn’t get my refund as I had run out of time. I advised Pauline to allow 3 hours, but she was lucky and got through in 1.5 hours. So, it’s hard to say how long you will take, but I would still play it on the safe side and get there early, especially if you have done quite a bit of shopping in different places.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  18. avatarjess says

    Hi,

    I have an early 10:30 am flight which I won’t be able to arrive 3 hours earlier for… (more like 2-2.5 hours for me). I plan to hand carry everything and am leaving from Terminal 3.

    I’m just wondering, to get the customs stamp, according to the map of T3, there’s a dogana around the checkin area, and another dogana on the right hand side, after security control, but before passport control. I wanted to know if I could get my form stamped at either one… I’m afraid the one in front will have a line too long for me to wait for, so I’m thinking of going to the less obvious one. Is that a good idea?

    Also, to get a cash refund from Global Blue, where is there vat refund office? Is it after passport control around all the gates? (And are they or any other refund offices open in the morning between 8am-11am)

    Any help with clarification would be really appreciated! Thanks!

    • avatar says

      Hi Jess,
      If you see Pauline’s comment (two up from yours), she managed to get through in 1.5 hours so if you arrive 2.5 hours you should be okay. Sometimes it’s just unfortunate when there’s tour groups (and especially when it’s Asian groups who do a lot of shopping) that you can be delayed in a long queue – not helped when a Customs officer decides to go slow. Anyway, as you can see from Pauline’s experience, she had no problems at all.
      I’m not familiar with the Dogana desk on the right. You could check with the Information desk if you can go there. People who hand-carry their shopping can get their Customs stamp after passport control and security (i.e. inside the restricted zone), but one of the risks here is that sometimes the desk is not manned… and then you can’t get back out of the restricted zone. So, if it’s not crowded, it’s best to get your stamp outside.
      Once you get complete passport control and pass security, you’ll see the Global Blue and Premier VAT refund desks on the inside.
      If things have changed at Rome Fiumicino, could you please drop me a line.

      Have a great trip.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

      • avatarterri says

        Hi
        I asked the staff at the check in counter the best way to claim VAT and they advised go through Immigration. The VAT counters are well signposted in Terminal 3 and cash refund counters and the counter where you have to stamp your documents first are side by side. The officers did not inspect the goods but asked if I had them. The whole ordeal took me close to 2 hours to attend 3 counters for cash refunds as I was stuck behind a group of Asians who allowed all their friends to push in. The line at the counter where you get your documents stamped was a 5 minute wait, however the queue for the global blue cash refund took me 45 mins and the yellow forms only line took 40 mins as once again another group of Asians took 30 mins because they allowed their friends to push in. I was asked by another group of Asians if they could go before me because their flight was boarding to which I suggested the mail box as they had a huge stack of forms.

        • avatar says

          Hi Terri,
          Thank you very much for taking the time to share your VAT refund experience at Rome Fiumicino airport.
          Yes, if you have the misfortune of being stuck behind Asian tour groups who let their friends push in, it can be very infuriating and take a longer time as you’ve experienced. I’m glad that you were firm with the next group that was trying to push in.
          Well done for getting you three separate cash refunds. Yes, it’s a big pain when you have to queue for 2 hours, but at least you’ve definitely got your money refunded. The last time I deposited my documents in the dedicated mail box, I didn’t get any refund … and others have experienced this as well.

          Cheers Terri and enjoy your goodies!

          Kind regards,
          Helen

  19. avatarPing says

    Hi Helen,
    I made a purchase in Milan on 28th May 2012. I got the custom stamp on 29th May 2012 when I left Milan. I didn’t queue up to get my tax refund as the staff was extremely slow in processing. I didn’t use the mail box system as I don’t have much faith in the system. I am planning to go back to Milan on 28th August this year. I am wondering if I still can get back my tax refund over the Premier desk after 3 months. Thank you.

    Best regards,
    Ping

    • avatar says

      Hi Ping,
      The rule is that you must have your refund documents stamped within 3 months. But they also advise that once you have your documents stamped (which is what you have), you should send it back to Premier Tax Free as soon as possible as refund forms can go out of date. Below is an extract from Premier’s Q&A.

      “Q: How long are Tax Free forms valid for?

      A: You must get your customs stamp on your VAT refund document within approximately 3 months following the month of purchase. For example, purchases made on the 25th of March must be exported in your personal luggage by the 30th of June. Once you have received your customs stamp, Premier Tax Free advise that you forward your voucher for refund immediately. In some countries, tax refund forms will go out of date if they are not immediately sent back to Premier Tax Free. Please read the conditions on your tax refund forms to be certain to respect local laws and regulations.”

      It seems that to get half of chance of getting your refund money back, you should send in your forms, but before you do that I highly recommend that you make a copy of everything. You can track your refund through Premier, but you will need to provide details of your purchase so make sure your photocopies have clear details of the information that they require.

      http://www.premiertaxfree.com/en/index.php/tourist/refund-tracking-system

      All the best with your refund.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

    • avatarPing says

      I decided to drop my stamped forms(stamped on 29 May) at the Premier Tax Free collection box at the airport in my country(Singapore). It was around late July. Finally on 22nd Nov, the refund was credited to my credit card but the exchange rate was really bad.

      Last month I did a tax refund with Global Blue in Milan. As I exceeded the cash limit of Eur1000, I did part of my tax refund through credit card. The counter staff took my tax refund forms and keyed in my credit card numbers into their system on the spot. They also issued me a receipt. Surprisingly, the tax refund was credited into my credit card on the very next day.

      • avatar says

        Well done for getting your refund from Premier Tax Free, even if the exchange rate was really bad.

        You sound like a real shopper! Was it easy getting the Customs stamp at Milan, i.e. was it busy when you were there.

        • avatarPing says

          It is rather easy to get the Custom stamp in Milan. Immediately after the immigration clearance, you will reach the custom office. All my past experiences had been smooth. Sometimes, the queue at the custom may be long but clear rather fast. Some officers were quite relaxed with the checks. They didn’t even bother to glance at my goods though I was so eager to show them. Most of them would just take a quick look at your goods. They tend to be strict with high value items like watches. They will tally the serial number of the item with the receipt. There was once I nearly couldn’t get my refund as the retailer keyed in the wrong serial number on the receipt. The custom officer didn’t want to endorse it. Luckily, I managed to get the helpful staff at the Global Blue counter to help me to contact the retailer to fax over an amended invoice. I once saw a custom officer ‘lecturing’ a lady for claiming a used bag. The lady was carrying it at the custom. Lucky for her, the officer endorsed her refund form after warning her. So if you want to claim the tax refund, remember to pack your goods even though you have used it during your trip.I have a friend who bought a watch from other European city but he didn’t have time to get the custom stamp. Within the 3 months’ time frame, he tried to get custom stamp in Milan but was rejected by the custom officer. The officer said the watch was not brand new as there were scratches on the watch.

          I strongly recommend cash refund. If you have both Global Blue and Premier Tax Refund to claim, you should queue at the Global Blue counter first. The queue at the Global Blue counters are usually long but not to worry, it clear rather fast unlike Premier Tax Free. Their queue might look short but it takes them forever to clear it.

          • avatar says

            Ping, thanks very much for sharing your Milan tax-refund experience and your tips about Global Blue and Premier Tax Free. The information is really useful for shoppers who are leaving from Milan.
            If you are doing tax-free shopping elsewhere in Europe, I would love to hear from you.

            Kind regards,
            Helen

          • avatarSharon says

            Hi Helen and Ping,

            It’s great to read one pleasant experience in the midst of the unpleasant ones. Our flight is 9pm MXP terminal one and we intend to reach by 4pm(bcoz of the horror stories!) we have already done online check in but still have to check in luggage. I read all the threads here, and got a few questions and was hoping you can help with it.
            1. If I intend to hand carry the luggage, it’s easier to do after passport control? But we will run into a risk of unmanned counter?
            2. I read about needing boarding pass before I can get tax refund at either before immigration or after immigration. If I turn up at airport at 4pm, 5 hours before my flight, there’s no way I can get my boarding pass right?
            3. If I have tax refunds to do at both global blue and premier, the correct procedure is to be at counter with properly filled up forms, unused new items for inspection, get a stamp from officer, get cash and then mail it( is it safer to mail it from back home Singapore or can we mail it in MXP, again risk of disappearing mail?) . Then we repeat whole procedure again at premier?

            Thank you very much for sharing your experiences!

            Sharon

          • avatarPing says

            Hi Sharon,
            I have been to Milan a fewl times and so far have not encountered any unmanned custom office problem. According to the below website, it stated the operating hours of the various tax refund companies but not the custom office.

            http://www.airportmalpensa.com/tax-refund.html

            I have never tried getting the VAT refund forms stamped at the check in area. I think it is at the other end of Terminal 1 which can be quite a distance away from the check in counters. I suggest you hand carry your goods. It is rather easy and straightforward. After getting your boarding pass, quickly clear the immigration. A short distance away from the immigration counters, you can find the tax refund counters. The customs office is just opposite the counters. Queue up at the customs office to get the VAT forms stamped first. I have seen many cases whereby the travelers happily queue up at the tax refund counters without getting the customs stamp. The most important thing of this whole VAT refund is getting the VAT REFUND FORMS STAMPED BY THE CUSTOMS.

            With the stamped VAT refund forms, if you still have time, you can queue up at the respective tax refund counters to get your VAT refund in 2 options, cash or credit card. I prefer the cash option which is straightforward and hassle-free. You submit your forms and they give you the cash. Case closed. However the maximum cash transaction limit in Italy is 1000Euro. If your VAT refund amount is more than 1K, you may opt to receive 999.50Euro in cash and the balance has to be credited to your card.

            For credit card option, the staff at the counter will also take back your stamped VAT forms. They will key in your credit card numbers into their system on the spot. Global Blue is rather efficient. They credited my VAT refund amount into my card on the very next day. But I strongly recommend you take snap shot of the stamped forms for any dispute.
            If you don’t have enough time after getting the customs stamp, you can fill up your card details on the VAT refund forms and drop them into the respective collection boxes. Again I strongly recommend you to take a snap shot of the stamped VAT forms.

            There is another method which you can claim back your tax refund first before getting the VAT refund forms stamped. There are various offices in town area which you get immediate cash refund. Please refer to the attachments. They will still ask for your credit card. In any case you don’t return the original VAT refund form with the customs stamp before their stipulated date, they will charge the VAT amount plus some commission to your card. For this method, you still need to show your goods to the customs in the airport and get your VAT refund forms stamped. Drop the forms into the respective collection boxes in the airport. In this way you can save time queuing up at the tax refund counters in the airport. Remember to take a snap shot of your stamped VAT refund forms.

            http://www.premiertaxfree.com/en/index.php/tourist/refund_search_results/24
            http://www.global-blue.com/destinations/italy/milano-city/

            Sharon, it is not necessary for you to mail the forms from Singapore. The collection boxes are available and located near the customs office in the departure area. By the way, I usually reach the airport 2.5 hours before departure.

            Enjoy your trip!
            Ping

          • avatar says

            Hi Sharon,

            I’ve not flown out of Milan Malpensa, so it’s great that Ping is able to share her expert advice with you. Most of the comments in this post are to do with Tax Refund from Rome Fiumicino Airport and it seems from Ping’s comments the tax refund process is much easier at Malpensa. Rome is a much busier airport.

            – There is no point in turning up 5 hours before your flight as the check-in desks won’t be open. Most airline check-in desks open from 2-3 hours before flight time.
            – From the Malpensa Airport map, it appears that there are tax refund desks on the Ground Floor, First and Second Floors. If you decide to go to the airport early, you can look out for these.
            http://www.milanomalpensa1.eu/en/useful-information/maps
            – All of Ping’s recommendations, such as getting cash refund and taking a snap shot of your VAT refund forms, etc. are all good advice. One additional advice I would add is that if you do decide to get your tax refund in the city, be very sure to have your VAT form stamped at the airport and make sure you return it to the tax-free company. As you can see from this post, some people have suffered large penalties because the VAT forms have not been received.

            Enjoy your shopping and have a great trip. Do post a comment when you get back and we hope to hear of a positive experience from you.

            Kind regards,
            Helen

          • avatarSharon says

            Hi Helen and Ping
            I’m finally back home, Spore! It’s a stressful experience
            As I read a lot of from online forums. We arrived more than 3 hours before flight and you are right, the counters weren’t opened yet. At the same time I went to check out the customs office at the end of terminal one, saw the customs officer telling the person in front with shopping bags to get the refund after check in as those shopping bags were hand carry.

            After check in, we went to check in, which is one level below. So happy to see the Global blue and Premier, but were told to go customs first which is directly opposite. To our shock, the office is closed. Then we asked around, and we entered into a corridor beside the police office. There are signs that says “No tax refund”, “tax refund beside newspaper store”, which was the office which was closed. Blood pressure getting higher! Then we asked and found out that the room which says “tax refund beside newspaper store” is the right one, so we knocked and enter. The officer was talking on phone and signal for me to take out all the forms and let him see, and he picked the most expensive item for me to show him. And that’s it, he stamped on every form, while still talking on the phone. Then we proceed to global blue to get cash, then premier. There were no queue at all and the process is less than an hour.

            Now i understand the agony everyone went through. With the horror stories at the back of your mind, it kinda added on the stress level that we have to go to different offices just to get the money back.

            In all, I’m glad to have found this page(special thanks to Helen and ping) before my departure and that the process is generally smooth (customs office get stamp then go tax house to get refund) and should not take longer than 1.5 hours. Arriving too early at airport is useless as check in counters would not be opened. Three hours should be sufficient.

          • avatar says

            Hi Sharon,
            I’m so pleased that you’ve got tax refund and that you got cash! I particularly liked that you went and knocked on the door of the customs office, even when the office seemed closed. These days, with all the budget cuts happening, I don’t expect government services such as tax refund to stay open any longer than necessary.
            Anyway, for your stressful effort, you at least got your money back .. some people have not been so lucky.
            Thanks for posting. When you next go shopping in Europe and have tax refund experiences in other countries, I’d love to hear about it.
            Kind regards,
            Helen

          • avatarAdeline says

            Hi Helen, Ping and Sharon,

            I know that this conversation thread ended last year, but am still hoping you guys can help me with my queries, especially since Ping has experience in Milan.

            I’ll be travelling in Italy and Switzerland with my family, but will likely only shop in Rome. However, I’ll be leaving from Milan Malpensa AND transiting through London Heathrow, to get back to Singapore. My transit time is approximately 9.5 hours. My flight out of Milan is 10:55am, while my flight out of London is 9:55pm.

            Read that we can only claim VAT back from the last departing country of the EU, which would be London for my case. However, I was hoping to spend the transit time exploring London city centre (9.5 hr of transit time), so hoping that we do not have to spend half the time in the VAT refund queues! Noticed that you mentioned that if the goods that we bought are to be checked in check-in luggage, we must obtain the Customs stamp in the last European Airport where you check-in and always before you actually send your luggage. Our luggages should be checked through to Singapore. Would we be able to get the custom stamps in Milan instead of London Heathrow and have everything settled in Milan if my goods were to be checked in instead of hand carrying them?

            With my 10 hours transit time and 10:55am flight out of Milan, are there any possible problems or anything I should be wary about?

            Thanks in advance for sharing your experience!

            Cheers,
            Adeline

          • avatar says

            Hi Adeline,
            If your bags are being checked all the way to Singapore (i.e. you have a boarding pass for Milan to London and another for London to Singapore), you should be able to get your Customs stamp at Milan Malpensa. Following is an extract from the Italian Customs website confirming this:

            “…… However, where the passenger holds a single ticket and carries out a single check-in being issued a double boarding card – one for the first domestic flight and another for the following final non-EU destination (i.e. Bari-Rome-New York or Milan-Frankfurt-Tokyo) – he can get an endorsement on the invoice concerning the goods intended for personal or family use by the national customs office located at the departure airport.

            Note that the goods must be shown at the customs office: if the traveller intends to carry them by plane, he must go to the Customs office to declare them before checking in the baggage.”

            The above does not apply if you have two tickets, i.e. (1) you check-in in Milan for Milan-London and then (2) in London for London-Singapore. This usually happens when people are doing their own on-line bookings and are buying separate tickets for each sector.

            When you’re getting your Customs stamp at Milan Malpensa, explain to them that your bags are going straight through to Singapore, but they will need to see your two boarding passes.

            Note: Don’t forget that Switzerland is not in the EU and anything that you buy there is not included in the EU VAT refund system.

            Good luck and have a great holiday. Let us know how you go with your VAT claim.

            Kind regards,
            Helen

  20. avatarAndrea says

    If i can add some detail, if you got your forms stamped, following the described procedures and you are in hurry to get away from the line, you can give the forms, with your credit card number written on ( no exp date, no ccv code of course ) to the people in the refund office asking for credit card refund.
    In that case you don’t have to wait for the post shipping because they are collecting them.
    And refund on credit card requires up to 40 days.
    You will see that refund not like a plus on your credit card but like a discount on your bill list, a lot of people don’t notice it.
    And be carefull to don’t wear sunglasses or jewelery you just bought or the custom office will not stamp it.
    For yellow form you can always ask for euros on the direct office, this i can tell for sure.
    And you can even use direct cash in the city with no commission, very handy too. ( just remember to stamp the form to the custom and send it back anyway ).

  21. avatarKarina says

    Do you know how early the customs and VAT desk open at the Fumicino airport? My flight is at 9:15 am going to Californa and from everything I’ve read above, it looks like I need to get to the airport 3 hours ahead, but I’m concerned they won’t be open.

  22. avatar says

    Karina,
    If you are flying directly to California on an American airline, your flight will depart from T5. I don’t have information on what time the VAT desk opens as I’ve not flown from T5. However, as T5 is for US and Israeli flights only, I imagine it will be less crowded than T3 and there may not be big queues for VAT refund. I suggest you check with your airline or the flight crew on your way over.

    The below link takes you to the T5 map which shows you where the VAT refund desk is.
    http://www.adr.it/web/aeroporti-di-roma-en-/pax-fco-airport-map

    Kind regards,
    Helen

  23. avatarJill says

    Just be aware- when I was there, the VAT desk in my terminal was closed, and had been for a long time, despite being on the airport map. Good luck! Checking upon your way into Italy is a great idea.

  24. avatarJill says

    I was at Terminal C Aug 2010. The VAT desk there was closed even though it appeared on the airport map. My only choice was to go to Terminal H, and re-enter security. I did not leave time for all that, and so lost the tax.

    • avatar says

      I think most of us have experienced lost VAT refund opportunities because of poor information/processes at FCO. It’s such a shame because Italy benefits from visitors who go there to shop.
      Thanks once again for your input.
      Kind regards,
      Helen

  25. avatarEric S says

    Hi Helen,

    I am planning on going to Italy in September and will be flying out of Naples at 7am and arriving in Rome at 7:55am and then leaving for L.A. at 9:15am. How would I be able to get the Customs Stamp for VAT? Do I do it in Naples? is Customs even open that early? If I cannot get the stamp in Naples, would the time I land in Rome give me enough time since I will have what I purchased as a carry on?

    Any help will be greatly appreciated.

    • avatar says

      Hi Eric,
      I hope that when you check-in in Naples, you will have your luggage interlined to LA as you don’t have a lot of time between landing in Rome and departing for LA.

      Your domestic flight from Naples to Rome will land at T1 or T2 or T3 (check this). And if you are flying direct to LA on a US carrier, you will be departing from T5. The link below takes you to FCO airport maps. Click on T5 and you’ll see where the VAT Refund desk is.

      http://www.adr.it/web/aeroporti-di-roma-en-/pax-fco-airport-map

      If you can get your Customs Stamp for VAT in Naples I suggest that you do this as when you arrive in Rome you will need to make track for T5. I’ve never flown out of T5 but I believe the security checks for U.S. flights are more stringent and you need to allow time for immigration and security check .

      Tip: If you are mailing your VAT forms in Rome, I suggest you take note of your VAT cheque number. If your refund claim goes missing and you want to track it, this information is required. Below link is an example of the kind of information that the Premier Tax Free company requires when you are following up on your refund. In fact, it would be a good idea to print the form and take it with you so that you are aware of the information you may be asked for if your claim goes missing.

      http://www.premiertaxfree.com/en/index.php/tourist/refund-tracking-system

      I hope the above helps.

      Kind regards,
      Helen Page

  26. avatarLyss says

    Hi Amir Iqbal,

    Just wondering, did you managed to talk/communicate with Global Blue on your vat refund issue? The reason for asking is because I had a shocked of my life yesterday seeing a charged of EUR1234.27 on my credit for “ITALY VAT-NO STAMP”! I have done the necessary process of filling in the vat refund form right, get it stamped and checked at the customs in Rome airport and another round of checked and stamp at CDG Airport in Paris on the same day and mail the form in their blue envelope given by the officer into the blue box located next to the counter, and yet I was still charged for it!

    Please help me out!

  27. avatarBalong says

    I just refunded tax yesterday at Fiumicino.

    Here’s what I did, and some important reminders:

    FYI I made two types of refund, checked in and hand carry, options 2 and 1 respectively in this blog and credit card and cash.

    1. Before even buying anything in EU make sure you read up on global blue policies. Most of the stores uses global blue btw. So you know if you want refund on credit card, cheque or cash. They have different refund rates per country so read up and choose. But bottom line you have to line up and be hassled in the airport to get any kind of refund. I also suggest cash, as you get the refund on hand before you fly, option of usd or euro. 1 to 2 percent is marginal for me, so the risk of not getting your refund back from credit card or cheque as reported here. I will find out in a few weeks if I will get the refund from the credit card.

    2. Useless to be in airport before your flight’s check in counter opens, despite checking in online. I was there in the airport early in hopes to make sure i get my refund because of reading horror stories in this blog. Was there five hours from flight departure. YOU cannot get your customs stamp without literally checking in at the airline check in counters for both options. Check in time depends on your plane company, Qatar opened 3.5 hours before flight departure. Check with your airline. Important is you show your boarding pass and luggage tag that came from the check in counter or customs won’t bother to accommodate you.

    2. Read the posted instructions outside the entry door of customs, it’s very CLEAR on what you need to do and where to go.

    3. My advice is you choose only one mode of refund, either go all the way cash, or go all the way credit card. You inform the store when you purchase what you like. Do this because despite as per global blue’s website you can’t change from credit card to cash and vice versa on the global blue counters at the airport. I tried, but they simply would not allow. I even said its written in their website.

    4. Pack all bought items in one check in luggage or hand carry all NOT both. I suggest in luggage if you bought a lot. otherwise hand carry. Lines do get long for both counters since all passengers have some refund to collect, as we were first in line at the check in, we rushed to the terminal 3 customs to have my luggage shown for refund. As the luggage itself was for refund and cannot be hand carried. As my wife had all our other bought stuff already packed in our hand carry luggage, customs would not stamp on the forms for it since they were hand carried. They would if it was inside the luggage tagged by check in. Despite pleading that I will put them inside, they did not allow and instead let me go thru the hand carried customs check at gate H1 as posted in their instructions. In fairness to them it was written and clear at the door so I did not complain. We just hoped we would be allowed. Total of 3 officers at 720pm

    5. After customs we saw the line and there were about 10 lined already, mostly from our flight also. Global blue counter beside t3 main area customs is just for credit card, so if there’s no line do it here if you want the global blue rep to personally receive and enter in the computer, or simply drop in mail. On your right is a conveyor belt for you to drop your luggage. That’s why they need you to check in first and have your luggage tagged, so when you drop it off, the airport will know where the luggage is going.

    6. Clear immigration and security check

    7. As we were in gate g, it is listed in the instructions from the customs counter to go to H1. Gates g and h to h1, gates c and d I believe, (pls correct if I’m mistaken) to another counter. We hurried and no one was in line so I went to have them stamped my other refunds. Only 1/3 officer counters were open btw. All they checked from me was two of the most expensive items.

    8. For credit card refund, Take pictures of your stamped forms before you drop them off in mailboxes or giving them to the global blue counters. So you have a copy. They stamped on only the form to be given to global blue. If cash refund no need to take pictures, as you will give the forms and in return get the money and receipt summary of the refund.

    9. After customs go directly to global blue beside it, 2 attendants, no line, they asked if I wanted euro or usd. Paid me. Done.

    10. I look back and again people were already queued, but less than 10.

    Good luck to you guys

    • avatar says

      Balong, thank you for your comprehensive report on your experience in getting VAT refund at Rome Fiumicino. I’m glad that after all your efforts that you got VAT refunded.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

      • avatarbalong says

        Just an update:

        I was able to get my refund via credit card. I just received my statement and it was refunded 11/9/12.

        To help people out further, they refunded me on my local currency and not in US $ or Euros unlike over the counter cash refund at the airport. A marginal loss further due to their/bank’s exchange rate.

        • avatar says

          Congratulations on getting your tax refund. It shows that the system can work if people follow the process as you did.
          By the way, your tax refund would have been in Euros of USD (whichever you selected). All foreign currency transactions are converted into your local currency by your credit card company. If you look at your credit card statement you will see the foreign currency amount of your VAT refund and the local currency equivalent.

          Thanks again for sharing your successful experience.

          Kind regards,
          Helen

  28. avatarChristine says

    Hi Helen,

    After reading the posts on this sites as well as multiple sites on the tax refund process in Rome airport, I think I am more confused that ever on what to do (amid getting really stressed out at the same time). I am getting to the airport 3 hrs early for a flight at 7pm connecting via London to Australia. As we have only 2 hrs transit in London (and also refund counter will be closed in Heathrow by the time we get there),my only real option is to get the tax refund in Rome. We have some on Global Blue and some on Premier Tax Free… We have asked for credit card refunds on all of our purchases. Questions:

    1. Can I clarify the steps for hand carry option – check in for flights, collect boarding passes, move to custom inspection, get forms stamped, line up at refund office, get refunds there and then on credit card and then mail in the forms? I was confused about Balong’s post about them refusing to stamp hand carry goods.. Please clarify.

    2. Do you have to do the check in options if transiting via another EU country?

    Please help as I am extremely confused on the process. Especially when you have received refund on credit card, do you still need to mail in the forms? If the line is too long… Can you just mail I the forms?? Thanks.

    • avatar says

      Hi Christine,

      The VAT refund procedure at Rome Fiumicino Airport is quite straightforward as long as you follow exactly what is instructed by Customs. As you can imagine, Italy is a very popular shopping destination and the Customs at Rome are kept very busy by people like us wanting VAT refunds. As such, they are not in the mood of making exceptions for people who don’t follow the process.

      There are two locations where you can get your Customs stamp:

      1. Before you go through passport control and security check
      2. After going through passport control and security check (only for hand carry option)

      If you have a lot of purchases and intend to pack your shopping into your checked in baggage, then you follow the steps as described in my Option 2.

      If however you are hand carrying your shopping, you check in for your flight, collect your boarding pass and go through passport control and security check as you would do normally. Once you’ve cleared passport control and security, there is a Customs desk on the inside. You get your VAT form stamped there and the Global Blue and Premier Tax Free desks are just next to the Customs Desk. As you have both Global Blue and Premier, you’ll have to visit both desks to get your VAT processed. If you find that there is a queue and you don’t have time to wait in the queue, you can place your stamped documents in the Global Blue or Premier envelopes that you’ve been given and just hand them in or mail them back once you are back home. Note: The VAT form MUST be returned to the tax-free company or else any advance credits that you may have received from the shops can be charged back to your credit card, as a few people on this forum have experienced

      I recommend to people to get the cash option as you will have your refund on the spot and that’s the end of the process for you. With credit card refunds, you will have to wait for the credit to take place and some suggested that it takes up to 40 days. It’s also possible for your paperwork to get lost in the millions of VAT claims and it’s difficult to do anything once you get home. I suggest that since you’ve selected the credit card option, take a copy of your VAT forms (use your camera), so at least you’ll have details of your claim to follow up with Global Blue or Premier.

      In regard to your question 2, as London (and not Rome) is your final point of exit from the EU, the Italian customs may insist that you get your VAT form stamped in London. They can stamp it for passengers with short transit times, e.g. 1 hour, and I’m not sure if they will do it for you as you have 2 hours.

      I would give Rome a try, but bear in mind that they can refuse you.

      As you’ve already done a fair bit of research, just take it easy and follow the instructions when you are there.

      All the best,
      Helen

  29. avatarJulie says

    I wish I saw this site before I went to Italy. I highly recommend taking a picture of your forms after they receive the customs stamp – Just In Case. I used credit card for purchases. At the airport, after waiting a stressful 40 minutes I presented my purchases and received a stamp on all forms (after security, near Gate H1). Next went to the nearby Global Blue desk and was given refund on the credit card. I dropped off the forms in the Tax Free Mailbox next to the GB desk, as instructed by the GB representative. She said it would take 3-5 days to show on account, but according to my statement the refund appeared the next day. A month later, “Tax Refund Roma” charged me twice the refund amount on the credit card. Enough to pay for last minute cross country Thanksgiving plane ticket during peak travel days. I googled and found others with similar issues. Some recommended canceling the credit card you used once you returned home, so Italy wouldn’t charge back to it.

    • avatar says

      Hi Julie,
      Thanks for sharing your tax refund experience and I’m sorry that yours was a negative one. Can I suggest that in future, you go for cash refund. With cash refund, you are not providing your credit card details so there’s no possibility of your credit card being charged by Italian Customs.
      You could try disputing the charge through your credit card company, but this requires some energy on your part.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

    • avatarPing says

      Oh gosh! Hopefully Global Blue don’t charge me twice the refund amount on the credit card. As I exceeded the cash limit, I did part of the tax refund through credit card. But I handed the refund forms personally to the GB staff at the counter and she keyed in my credit card numbers into their system on the spot. She also issued me a receipt.The tax refund was credited into my credit card on the very next day. In future if I need to use the credit card option, I will definitely take a snap shot of the stamped forms for any dispute purpose.

  30. avatarClaire says

    Hi Helen,
    I was hoping you could help me with my query. I will be travelling with KLM to Melbourne from Rome. How do I go about claiming the VAT back from customs in terminal 1 in FCO? I only have 1hr 5m transit in Amsterdam before my flight to Melbourne. So I would assume that I am able to do so in FCO. I read on some forums that there are no customs in T1, is that true? If so, do I have to go to T3 to claim my VAT back?

    Thanks for your help

    Claire

    • avatar says

      Hi Claire,
      T1 services Alitalia domestic flights as well as flights to European destinations for which the VAT refund scheme does not apply. Although the Fiumicino Airport website says there is a customs office for VAT reimbursement at T1, I’ve not seen it myself. I would suggest that you contact KLM and ask them the same question.
      As you only have 1 hr transit in Amsterdam, they may allow you to process your VAT claim in Rome. You will need to show your boarding pass for your Amsterdam to Melbourne flight, i.e. they need proof that you are leaving the Eurozone.
      If you can’t get any clear direction from KLM, I would try T3.
      Good luck and do drop me a line to share your experience.
      Kind regards,
      Helen

      • avatarClaire says

        Hi Helen,

        My flight summary: FCO – AMS – KUL – MEL

        I finally have the time to share my experience in getting my VAT back from T1 FCO. My flight from FCO was at 8:55 am and I was at the airport as early as 6:30 am. After checking in, I told the lady at the check in counter that I wanted to get my refund vouchers stamped. She then told me to take my check in luggage and proceed to the customs counter. The customs counter is located directly opposite security check. So after checking in I proceeded to the customs counter at around 7am. A friendly officer greeted me asking if I have my goods in my luggage. He did not check my items individually and stamped my vouchers. I was the only one in the queue. The whole process took me about 5 minutes. I then organised all my vouchers, ensuring I took a picture of each one just in case before I place them in the respective envelopes. After security check, there is a mail box before the escalator to the boarding gates. I just dropped my envelopes in the mail box and I have since received all my refunds without issues thankfully!

        Good luck all. I hope this helps :)

        • avatarClaire says

          To be a little clearer, after checking in I took my luggage and proceeded to the customs counter. I had to drop my luggage off at the customs counter.

        • avatar says

          Hi Claire,
          I’m really glad to hear that you were successful in getting your VAT refund processed at FCO T1 and that the process was pretty straightforward for you. The customs officer must have liked your smile!
          Thank you very much for sharing your information as I myself have not processed VAT at T1.
          If you have any other VAT experiences, please do come back and share.

          Thanks and kind regards,
          Helen

  31. avatarCheryl says

    Hi Helen,

    I will be departing from Rome FCO T1 on a Sunday 5pm flight.
    I will be Transiting at Amsterdam Schipol Airport.

    The transit time is about 1 hr 30 mins.

    Question :
    1a. Do I do my claim processing at Rome Airport OR
    1b. Do I do my claim processing at Amsterdam Airport.

    2. If it is a transit flight – does it mean I will do my claim in Rome ?

    3. If its two different flight, does it mean I will do my claim in Amsterdam; after I have claimed my luggage ?

    4. If my luggage goes all the way from Rome via Amsterdam to Singapore (where I don’t have to collect my check-in luggage at Amsterdam) – does it mean that I will still get the VAT forms stamped at Rome before checking in the luggage. Then at Amsterdam Airport, I proceed to the VAT offices to claim cash ?

    5. I highly doubt the VAT offices will still be opened on a Sunday evening at Amsterdam Airport right ? Do you happen to know the working hours ?

    6. Assuming that I could do my claim in Rome and assuming that I have them in my carry on board mini-luggage – can I still claim cash after going thru immigration clearance ? Is the VAT offices immediately after clearance ?

    7. Lastly, will the VAT offices be opened on a Sunday evening ? Again I doubt it.

    ** Kinda makes me feel I should just focus on touring instead of shopping this time round. Just “not” worth the hassle. And to feel all stressed up on the ending leg of a good holiday seems so pointless…

    Neverheless, I look forward to your kind advise.

    • avatar says

      Hi Cheryl,

      If your luggage is checked all the way to Singapore and your transit time in Amsterdam is short, the Customs office for VAT refund in Rome may well stamp your VAT form for you. Your baggage tag will show Singapore as your final destination and you will have proof of a boarding pass for Singapore.

      However, if you are claiming your bag in Amsterdam and then checking in on a different flight, they will most probably ask you to claim your VAT in Amsterdam because that is the last port of exit from the EU.

      Although the Rome Airport site says that there is a Customs office for VAT refund at T1, I’m not aware of where it is. Also, the refund companies like Global Blue and Premier Tax-Free are at T3 at Gate H01-H02 after Security. They are not at T1.

      At T3 you can get your Customs stamp before Immigration or after Immigration (you must hand-carry your goods in this case).

      As regards opening hours of the VAT office, I do not have this information. I have requested it, but their response time is 30 days and I’ll be very lucky to receive it.

      Yes, I think you are creating too many hypotheticals. You can give it a go in Rome, but don’t be upset if they reject you. Then you’ll know that you next step is to process your claim in Amsterdam. They are very efficient in Amsterdam, as long as you don’t get caught in a queue.

      My concern is if you have to claim your bag in Amsterdam, check in for your flight and go through security check, you’ll be pressed for time for claiming VAT. You can try and get your Customs stamp and if you run out of time, then mail back the forms for your VAT refund to be processed.

      Good luck,
      Helen

      As you say, best to enjoy your holiday and if you do manage to get your VAT refund, that’s a bonus.

  32. avatarClaire says

    Hi Cheryl,

    Would you mind sharing your experiences after your trip regarding the VAT? I am in the same situation as you are where my flight will depart from T1 at FCO.

    Thanks!

  33. avatarPing says

    I came back from Rome last week and departed from Rome Fiumicino T3. The tax refund process is rather easy and smooth. My departure time was 11.15am and I reached the airport at about 9.45am. I hand carried my purchases. I spotted the customs office for check-in luggage at T3. It is not like Milan where it is located at one end of the terminal. The customs desk in T3 is centrally located and can be spotted easily. The queue was rather short and moving quite fast as there were 3 counters in operation then.
    I was lucky. When I reached the customs desk after the immigration (passport controlled), there was nobody in the queue. Got the forms stamped and quickly moved to the Global Blue counter which is just next to the customs. The queue was short. As usual, a few tourists in the queue were rejected as they didn’t get the customs stamp. The only unpleasant thing I encountered is that I was given all in Eur10 notes for my Eur600 tax refund. The GB staff claimed that she didn’t have big notes when I saw stacks of big notes just right behind her. I didn’t want to argue with her so I just took my time to count the notes in front of her.
    This is my first experience in claiming the VAT refund in Rome. Just follow the steps as stated in Helen’s posts and it is definitely not scary as many have described.

    • avatar says

      Hey Ping, you sure are keeping the Italian Customs busy with all your shopping and tax refunds! Well done for getting your tax refund at Rome Fiumicino. I’m so pleased that you and a few others who have posted on this page recently have all had successes. Based on the number of trips that you take to Italy, the Euro 10 notes will come in handy.

      May I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the festive season and I hope to hear lots more from you about you shopping trips to Europe in 2013.

      Thanks again for keeping me updated .

      Kindest regards,
      Helen

  34. avatarElim says

    Hi Helen,
    I’m still in Rome and will be returning in 2 days time. About 10days ago, I made a purchase in Chanel Florence and was directed by the salesperson to claim tax refund from nearby changer but realised that they can only refundin usd and I suffered a fx loss almost 15%of the tax refund. When I made further purchases in The Mall ( florence), I was happy to know that the refund was in Euros and happily did that…just today, I made some purchases in Rome and wanted to claim tax from the Premier tax city counter, I was explained the high risk of the ‘stamped forms’ not being received by the custom office ( normally within 21 days of purchase) which will eventually lead to heavy debits to my credit card. This was never explained or advised by the money changer and tax counters in Florence.

    I will be taking snapshots of the ‘ stamped invoices’ before mailing them, can you advise if there is anything I can do to ensure that the ‘stamped’ invoice gets to the custom office? What other precaution or action should I take?

    Thanks,
    Elim

    • avatar says

      Hi Elim,
      Many shops in Italy offer tax-free shopping services through Global Blue or Premier Tax Free. When you bought goods at Chanel and the Mall in Florence, the merchants should have given you a Tax Free Refund Form or Voucher together with a self-addressed prepaid envelope from either of these two companies.

      You need to get the Tax Free Refund Forms stamped by Customs at the airport. Customs will want to see your goods and invoices before providing the stamp.

      You can claim your refund from Global Blue and Premier Tax Free in the city or at the airport. If you’ve already got your cash refund in the city, make sure you still get your Customs stamps and you can drop off the tax free forms (in the self-addressed envelopes) at the respective Global Blue or Premier Tax Free counters at the airport. If you have forms from both companies, they need to drop them in the two separate boxes.

      As you’ve mentioned claiming tax from Premier Tax Free, I’ve included a link to their website which shows you the kinds of information needed if you have to track your refund. Make sure your snapshots of your refund forms covers important information like the Document/Voucher Number.

      http://www.premiertaxfree.com/en/index.php/tourist/refund-tracking-system

      Good luck with your VAT refund.

      Regards,
      Helen

      • avatarElim says

        Hi Helen,
        Thanks for your prompt and clear advices, I will do that and hopefully everything goes on well. One more question, for a particular merchant, I was given 2 copies, tourist copy and original copy, which is the one to be stamped by custom and to be mailed back. Also, do we need to mail the invoices together with the stamped forms or can we keep the invoices? Thanks again….

        Best regards
        Elim

        • avatar says

          Hand both copies to Customs and you’ll find that they’ll probably only stamp the original which is the one to mail back. You don’t have to mail your invoices, but if you want to reassure yourself, you can check with the Global Blue or Premier Tax Free people before you drop off your forms. Once you clear Immigration and security, there are Global Blue and Premier Tax Free counters inside the secure area. There’s also a Customs desk inside, for those who are handcarrying their shopping.

          Kind regards,
          Helen

  35. avatarElim says

    Hi Helen,

    I arrived back in Singapore a couple of hours ago..experience at custom was smooth as we arrived at the airport 3.5 hours before the flight. There were already queues at tax refund counters – both premier and global blue and there was this Chinese family alternating between these 2 booths, with individuals of the family signing documents between the 2 booths. That actually held up the queue for at least 15 – 20 mins, thus imagine 10 such families. As mentioned, I actually did some tax refund at the Mall and city money changer but was able to hand over the ‘ stamped’ documents to the tax refund counters, maybe, it is advisable to do that if you have a fair bit of tax refunds and time in the city, firstly, u can claim the euros earlier for spending in Italy and secondly, need not spend too much time at the tax refund, just get the custom stamps and pass on the forms to the refund counter ( still need to queue) but if the queue is too long, just mail them at the mailbox next to the refund counters, well, at least you can be assured of a chance to get refund, rather than forego totally if there is a risk of missing your flight..
    One more observation, global blue pays in Euros while premier tax is in USD, JPY & GBP.

    Glad this is over…. Thanks, Helen!
    And wish all a great 2013 ahead!
    Elim

    • avatar says

      Hi Elim,

      I’m glad to see that you’ve survived the tax refund process at Fiumicino. Your comment about the Chinese family hogging the tax refund booths is one that others have complained about previously. I believe in Singapore you have a term to describe such behaviour!

      Your suggestion about claiming your tax refund in the city is a good suggestion if you don’t mind paying the extra handling commission. I remember checking in Rome once and noted that what they would refund is considerably less than what’s indicated in the tax refund form.

      Thanks for your feedback and now that you’ve experienced tax refund in Rome, it’ll be less stressful the next time around.

      Kind regards and have a Great 2013. Hope you’ll have many more shopping adventures.
      Helen

  36. avatarben says

    Hi,

    I’ve heard from friends you can’t get any refund if say, you bought the items in Paris and you are leaving from Italy. But read some of the comments, it doesn’t seem like it.

    Can anyone confirm on this?

    many thanks!!

    • avatar says

      Hi Ben,
      If you buy things in Paris and leave the EU from Rome, your tax refund claim must be done in Rome, i.e. your final point of exit from the EU. You will not be able to claim it in Paris.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  37. avatarHappyshopper says

    Hi Helen,

    Its great to see that you are helping so many travellers around the world with their VAT refund. I had couple of questions to ask, would appreciate if you could help me out.

    I will be travelling to Rome and Nice, France in April 2013 since I have enough time I though I should check with you as to how to go about the VAT refund procedure. I plan to buy some high end luxury brand bags in Rome after which I am travelling to Nice, France. I would be travelling to Nice, France by Easyjet, could you please tell me if I should get my VAT refund in Rome or in Nice, France ? My exit will be from France to my country (India).

    Thanks in advance!
    Happyshopper :)

    • avatar says

      Hi Happyshopper,

      VAT refund is claimed from your last port of exit from the EU, so in your case it is Nice. If you have any advice to share from your Nice refund experience, please feel free to share here.

      Happy shopping and mind your luggage allowance with Easyjet. Budget airlines take the allowances very seriously.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  38. avatarHappyshopper says

    Hi, Thought of sharing my VAT refund experience at Nice Airport, well it was really a simple easy process, just go towards Departure side of the airport and get your VAT form Stamped and then after checking in and security check you can claim your money at American Express Kiosk. Though I went pretty early there were hardly any people claiming the refund hence it was a smooth affair.

    Thanks Helen for giving me the tips!

    Cheers!

    • avatar says

      Hi Happyshopper,

      I’m glad that everything went well for you and thanks for sharing your Nice VAT refund experience. Enjoy your goodies!

      Cheers,
      Helen

  39. avatarMollie says

    Hi all,

    I bought some leather in Florence in May and flew out of the Venice airport. The shop owner did NOT charge me tax and gave me the proper forms to have stamped at Customs in Venice. I followed the instructions, had the form stamped and mailed it before I flew out. I just discovered an over $200 charge to my credit card for “Tax Refund Roma IT.” Is there any cause for recourse when I’ve already followed the appropriate process? Any tips are appreciated!

    • avatar says

      Hi Mollie,
      Unless you have a copy of the tax refund form that you had stamped at Customs in Venice, it’s hard to comment on your situation. VAT is a compulsory tax and the shop owner is required by law to collect this tax on behalf of the tax authorities. If the shop owner did not charge you VAT, it’s hard to see how you can claim a tax refund.

  40. avatarGeno says

    Wonderful information here. I am currently in Paris, and bought some goods here and in London. I’m going to Rome next and leaving from Rome back to the states. So I know that much as to get the stamp at last port of departure.

    I want to op for the credit card refund because you get more. Your guide says it could take 40-60+ days.

    However reading the comments, and if you can clarify as well.

    YOU CAN get the credit card refund back RIGHT AWAY.. IF you go to the GB/etc counters with the forms stamped–they do the refund transaction back to the card that same day as indicated by others who said they show the credit within a few days? Can you please confirm that? It will only take the excessive long amount of time IF you just drop the envelope in the mail box there? But again IF you go right to the counter if you have time, they will process the credit card refund right away?

    The only downside is as some said they see the charge and sometimes nearly double months down the line, and that is why its crucial to take a photo of the form stamped to dispute easily with your credit card company.. OR just cancel the card and get a new one after the refund posts?

    Please confirm. I am leaving Rome in 4 days from FCO

    • avatar says

      Hi Geno,
      – If after getting your Customs stamps you decide to mail your VAT Claim forms, this can take months before your refund shows in your credit card. To answer your question, this is the SLOW option.
      – If after getting your Customs stamps you are able to queue at Global Blue or Premier Tax Free, your VAT refund will be processed there and then. You have a choice of a cash refund or a credit to your credit card. As you’ve seen from the comments, some who chose the credit card option have suffered write-backs of their VAT refund plus a hefty penalty. It’s not anything that they have done wrong, but more to do with the shop not lodging their VAT returns with the tax authorities. When this happens, it’s pretty difficult to get satisfactory resolution. If you’ve shopped at reputable shops, this shouldn’t happen.

      Hope above is clear.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  41. avatarGeno says

    Helen!

    Thanks for the quick reply. It’s great that you still moderate this page and reply promptly.

    I’m now in Rome. Will be leaving through FCO, All (3) of my forms are with Global Blue so I plan on getting the stamps from customs then going straight to Global Blue to get the funds put back on my card right then and there. If I am feeling unsure per the stories, once the credit has posted, I will cancel the card and get a new one perhaps =)

    Your page/thread/posts is the only one that clarifies that one can actually DO get the card refund back right away. Even the stores don’t tell you this, and always say you HAVE to drop it in the mail box and wait months. I don’t know why they dont like to tell you what we’ve just confirmed–that you can get the credit right away on the card if you go to the GB line after the stamp.

    I will let you know how it goes.

    Thanks!

    FYI, I went to a store that didn’t have the usual GB form, because their machine printed its own with all the similar info as the regular form, and they still gave me a GB envelope. I hope thats ok.

    • avatar says

      Geno,
      The store assistants probably aren’t up to date with the latest in the VAT refund process as they themselves don’t use the VAT refund system – as EU citizens they’re not entitled to claim VAT refunds.

      When I did a coach tour of Italy last year, the English tour director gave the passengers completely wrong information about how to claim VAT at FCO. At the time I wondered how she could have got it so wrong and then it dawned on me that although she travels between the UK/Italy the whole year through for tours, she actually has never claimed VAT refunds as she was not entitled to it.

      When I shopped in Paris a couple of months ago, I was given machine printed VAT receipts by some of the bigger shops and when I was at London Heathrow q-u-e-u-e-ing for eternity for my VAT refund, many people in the queue also had wads of machine-generated VAT receipts. This seems to be the new direction and less labor intensive.

      I hope all goes well with your VAT refund, and yes please do let me know how you go. If you’re flying out from T5, I’d be interested in any advice you may have for others.

      Cheers,
      Helen

  42. avatarGeno says

    Hi Helen,

    I’m back in NYC, as mentioned in my previous posts, I left FCO through Terminal 5, which does seem to be the Terminal for all US bound flights.

    Terminal 5 is on the outskirts of the other terminals. It’s like Italy wanted to show how unwanted Americans are.

    Anyways it is fairly small and because of that makes things easy to locate. As soon as you enter you go through the queues to your airline. Then you go round a corner to queue with your airline to check, print boarding passes, and check in your baggage. The customs location is right there. You can’t miss it really.. You really can’t. If you miss it, I don’t know what to tell you. It is so obvious and right in your face as soon as you go into the main room of the terminal.

    Your airline, at least mine (Delta) already knew the procedures with folks having to get the receipts stamped. I had all my stuff in my carry on, but the boxes and packaging in my bag to check. Just so there was no problems in case, I told the clerk I need to get my stamps before I check my bag. It was no problem, they said just drop off the baggage back to her after. At this point my baggage already was tagged.

    Customs was a breeze. They looked my receipt, and didn’t even ask to see the goods HAHA. I don’t know if it was my appearance, but they just asked, “Are all your goods here?” I said yea. Then they stamped my 3 receipts without even asking to see the purchases.

    I worried for nothing on having the packaging for the items with me.

    So after you get the stamps, directly across the customs office/room where you get the stamps.. and i mean ALL THE WAY ON THE OTHER OPPOSITE ROOM is 3 booths for Global Blue, and those other 2 companies.

    So here is where I need to add and clarify some info for you and readers. As others mentioned and confirm, they would be able to do the refund right then and there BACK ON THE CARD. This was not the case with me. The lady said because the 3 purchases I made, although with their company Global Blue, they were done 1 in the UK, and 2 in France. She said if the purchases were done THERE in ITALY, then they would be able to do the refund right away.

    I don’t know if she was pulling my chain, but I didn’t want to use my argumentative real American tone and vocabulary to dig deeper, so I just said whatever. I took pictures of all 3 receipts with the stamps for my records. She said it will still take “3-4″ weeks because they will mail it to each Global Blue’s location per the transaction. In my case Global Blue UK/London, and the 2 for Global Blue Paris/France.

    So now I wait.

    Speaking of wait, there really was none. I got there about 2.5 hrs before my flight and I could’ve came 1 hour and wouldve been fine. Again this is YMMV.

    I guess if your on a flight on a different terminal where the “Asian (shoppers)” are at, then you should come 2-3 hours ahead.

    • avatar says

      Hi Geno,
      Thank you for taking the time to provide your very detailed feedback on the VAT Refund process at T5. Personally, I think the Global Blue person was pulling your chain, as you put it. If you were to send your VAT claim in the mail rather than fronting up to Global Blue desk in person, you will note that all the envelopes provided to you all have a Slovakia address – their central processing centre. They don’t give you envelopes for GB London or GB France.
      I did a fair amount of shopping in Paris in June and as I was leaving the EU from London Heathrow, I claimed my VAT refund in London and (except for the long queue) didn’t have any problem in getting paid.
      Anyway, you can only wait and see, but at least you’ve got copies of the documentation to follow up with. Best of luck to you.

      Thanks and kind regards,
      Helen

      BTW, US and Israeli flights leave from T5 because of the added screening procedures required by your guys after September 11. So don’t feel ‘unwanted’.

  43. avatarJennie Szeto says

    For people, such as airline crew on leisurr travel, we need to standby for flights back home with family members and companion using your standby tickets. How am I supposed to get my boarding pass early and get my receipts stamped in time unless my flight is pretty light. Is there any information for anything like that?

  44. avatarAndy says

    Dear Helen,

    Appreciate the info you have posted here. It really helped that I read up your postings before heading to the airport.

    I am writing this just right after I have collected the tax refund. I am flying off from terminal 3 Rome FCO airport and I have chosen to hand carry all my purchases.

    Right after clearing the immigration, I proceeded to Gate H where both the customs and global blue/premier tax booths are side by side.

    I went to the custom booth, showed my purchases and got all the docs stamped. I then went on to queue at premier tax follow by global blue. Premier tax doesn’t refund cash in Euro. I chose USD with exchange loss of about 500pips but I think it’s fine so long I get back the refund on the spot.

    Global blue refunds in Euro. All in all, it took less than 30 mins from queueing at the custom queue to collecting my cash from global blue. I guess it’s my lucky day as the queues were relatively short. I arrived about 3.5 hours before flight time.

    I hope some of you will find the above info useful.

    Thanks
    Andy

    • avatar says

      Hi Andy,
      Firstly, well done for getting your tax refund at Rome Fiumicino. I agree with you that getting your refund back on the spot is better than having to wait for things to happen (or not) by mail, even if you have to sacrifice 500 pips. Sounds like we have an FX dealer here!

      Thank you very much for taking the time to provide an update on your experience. It is always very useful to get the latest information, just in case anything has changed. I certainly find the information useful.

      Thanks once again and enjoy your purchases.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  45. avatarGeno says

    Hi Helen,

    I’m not sure if you recall my detailed experience not too long ago.

    Glad to say I saw the refund BACK ON MY CARD

    http://imageshack.us/a/img819/6195/ts2e.jpg

    [img]http://imageshack.us/a/img819/6195/ts2e.jpg[/img]

    So it took about a month.

    So PROOF THAT BACK ON CARD IS SUCCESSFUL. got the higher percentage refund with waiting 3-4 weeks.

    • avatar says

      Hi Geno,
      I’m so glad that you’ve got your tax refund on your credit card and thanks for coming back here to share your success. Time to go and do more shopping?

      Kind regards,
      Helen

      • avatarGeno says

        i wish. europe was a wonderful experience. my wife and i really want to go again.. theres only one big problem.. that thing they call money.. we lack of it lol

        i dont know how i got to your page anymore. i remember searching WHILE IN EUROPE a few days before we were headed back to the USA. I’m glad I did. it was the most informative and there were also some useful info in the comments and I hope mine will be as well for others who go googling when they are in a similar situation.

        You should maybe highlight or quote the good comment posts up on the top with the main post, it really was a good read but with so much comments there were obvious irrelevant ones.

        glad i can contribute my experience.

  46. avatarAndy says

    Further to my post on 6th Oct 13, i got the remaining tax refund on my credit card on the 18th, less than 2 weeks later.

    So the system works.

    :)

  47. avatarJason says

    Hi Helen,
    My flight in at 6:10am at FCO and transfer at Frankfurt, so where should I claim the tax refund? And do you think the custom office already open?

    Thanks
    Jason

    • avatar says

      Hi Jason,
      If have one airline ticket and your bag is being checked all the way to home country (outside the EU), you should be able to get your Customs stamp at FCO. Customs will need to see your two boarding passes – one for FCO – FRA and the other FRA – your home destination.

      If however you have two separate tickets, one for FCO – FRA and then at FRA you will do another check-in for your second flight from FRA – home destination, then Customs at FCO will not provide you with the VAT refund stamp as Frankfurt is your last exit point.

      There are always Customs officers on duty whenever there are flights, but I don’t know if the VAT Refund desk will be manned at 6:00 am. I suggest that you ask at the information desk when you arrive at FCO, or your airline check-in desk. If the VAT Refund desk is not open, ask for any Customs office and get them to stamp your form for you. Once you have the stamp, you can mail the Refund form back to the agent, i.e. Global Blue or Premier and have the refund credited to you bank account, or if the Global Blue and Premier desks are open, you can get cash refunds. The important thing is to get the Customs stamp.

      Good luck,
      Helen

  48. avatarStanley says

    Hi helen, my first vat experience last year at cdg was a pleasant one. Got all my refunds. This time i left eu from helsinki and got my cash refunds from global blue but there was no premier tax in helsinki. I sent my tax vouchers with the relvant stamps for my purchase from chanel. Now premier tax had stated that they have not received this form and charged my credit card as i had taken a city cash refund. To further complicate matters there was a postal strike in finland which may have caused the delay. I have taken photos of my tax form with custom stamps. How do i appeal with the photo? Anybody hsf experience or success? I mean the postal services incompetence should not cost me 650 euros right? And there is no way i could have photoshop a finnish custom stamp. Pls advice.

  49. avatartina says

    I just want to know what time does the FCO airport’s custom desk open. My flight leave at 6:40 am. If the custom desk open after my flight leave, how can I get the stamp from the custom?I know that the Global blue open at 7am. Can I get cash refund or credit card refund after I shopped( i tried in paris for buying chanel and Lv).

    Thanks

  50. avatarjackie says

    FYI. Arrived 3 hours before a flight from Rome Fiumicino to the U.S. out of Terminal 5. Learned that all passengers to U.S. had to bus to Terminal 5 to go through special security (for flights to US and Israel only) then bus back to Terminal 3. This took a ridiculous amount of time. When I got back to Terminal 3 and asked where the VAT desk was, the agent said I had to go to Terminal 1 then come back to Terminal 3 and go through security again. Then I went to the Delta gate agent who said I didn’t have time. I was furious. I shop in France a couple of times a year, and always go through detax at cdg. Now I’m out 100 euros. Are you aware of any recourse?

    • avatar says

      Hi Jackie,
      Yes, it’s the correct procedure that all flights from Rome Fiumicino to the U.S. and Israel are handled out of Terminal 5. However, at T5 you can get your Customs stamp and have your VAT refund processed through Global Blue and the other VAT handling agencies. If you read the comment by Geno, about 5 up, he said that the VAT process at T5 was very simple.

      I don’t understand why you were sent back to T3 and then to T1. T3 is one of the busiest terminals for VAT refunds and we’ve certainly never been asked to go to T1.

      As it is not clear who has been giving you all the misinformation, it’s hard to comment on what recourse there is, if any. I’m sorry to hear that you missed out on your VAT claim whilst in Rome, but if you are able to get a Customs stamp from your home authorities, you will still be able to send the forms back to Global Blue or whichever VAT handling company that your shop is associated with. Before you send in your stamped receipts and VAT forms, I would take copies of the documentation as things can go missing in the mail.

      Kind regards,
      Helen Page

      • avatarjackie says

        Thank you Helen. It does appear now that I was mislead by the airport agents I spoke with at Terminal 3 and could have done it after all, unless things have changed very recently.
        I am curious who you mean when you say “if you are able to get a Customs stamp from your home authorities.” Which authorities would this be? I’d sure love to recover that discount.

        • avatar says

          Hi Jackie,
          Apologies for the late reply. We’ve been on the road this past week and have not had the opportunity to log on till today.
          As you mentioned that you were flying to the U.S., I presume you live in the States. If you are able to get a stamp from U.S. Customs, you could then try submitting your VAT refund form.
          According to vatfree.com, “You can also get a Customs stamp in your home country upon arrival.”
          https://www.vatfree.com/en/for-travelers#en-faq-customsstamp

          Before you go chasing for the Customs Stamp, I suggest you contact Global Blue, Premiere Taxfree, or whichever VAT services company your shop uses and ask them if they’ll accept your VAT form with a US Customs stamp (if that’s your home country). The other VAT services company to check with is vatfree.com as they’re the ones who suggest that you can get a Customs stamp in your home country.

          Unfortunately, once you’ve missed the opportunity to get your VAT processed on departure from the EU, it’s a big hassle to find a recourse. However, if you have the energy, you could give it a go.

          Good luck,
          Helen

  51. avatariiona c says

    Hi Helen,

    Thank you for posting such an informative blog!

    I am heading to France and Italy (Rome is my final destination) this December 2014 and will most likely be choosing option #1 (hand-carrying my purchases) for getting my tax refund at Rome FCO T3. My flight leaves at 3pm. To be on the safe side, I will be heading to the airport at least 3.5 hours prior to departure. But I am a bit worried that the custom’s desk will be closed if I opt for Option #1. Does that happen often where the office is closed?. I know Option 2 is a dreadful and lengthy process, but at least the custom’s office will be open. Please advise.

    Thanks,
    iiona c

    • avatar says

      Hi Iiona,

      I understand your concern, but I think that for your flight departure it is safe to assume that the Customs desk will be open. If there’s no one around, ask at the Global Blue or Premiere Duty desks and they may have advice as to how to get the Customs officer to come out. In some places, like at Paris Orly, there is a phone on the desk and you have to ring for someone to come out.
      If you’re really concerned, then why not try for Option 2 first, if it’s not too crowded on that day.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  52. avatarAnn says

    Hi Helen,

    I was in Florence this past April and did some shopping. The store gave me a yellow form to sign and told me to get my tax refund at a tax refund/currency exchange counter near the Duomo. So I went ahead and did that and received my cash refund and was told to get the yellow form stamped at the Florence Airport and drop it off at the designated area before my flight. I did as instructed.
    Now it’s August and I notice my credit card was charged by “tax refund Roma” in the same amount as the cash refund I received back in April. Does this mean they have lost my letter? To whom should I make a complaint to? Please advise.

  53. avatar says

    Ann,

    I would contact the Italian Consulate where you live. I won’t repeat my story here, it’s a long one, but the staff at the Italian Consulate in L.A. has been helpful in trying to help resolve my tax refund matter. Good luck. I’ll be sure to post again when the matter is resolved, one way or another.

    Jackie

    • avatar says

      Yes you can as long as you’ve met the VAT refund requirements for that country. Make sure you have a tax invoice from the shop and tell the sales person that you would like to claim VAT. They should provide you with a VAT refund form by whichever VAT processing company the shop uses, e.g. Global Blue or Premier Tax Free, etc. Remember to have your passport with you as your passport number is required.

      Regards,
      Helen

  54. avatarGladys says

    Hi Helen,

    I’ll be exiting the EU at Rome FCO airport and had gone a bit of shopping in Switzerland, France & Italy. Is the minimum amount for refund a total for each country or an aggregate of which in every receipt?
    Considering my purchases qualifies, can I have all my purchases in the 3 countries done in Italy?

    Is there anything else I need to ask from the merchants aside from the receipt & the goods itself that would be required in the Tax Refund System?

    Thanks & Regards,

    Gladys

    • avatar says

      Hi Gladys,

      Switzerland is not a member of the EU and therefore you will need to process your VAT refund for your Swiss shopping before leaving Switzerland.

      As both France and Italy are in the EU, you will claim your VAT refund for your French and Italian shopping at Rome FCO where you will be exiting the EU.

      The minimum purchase amount for French VAT refund is 175.01 EUR. As explained in my response on your Swiss query, this minimum purchase is on a shop-by-shop basis. If you buy from 10 shops, then the purchases from each of these 10 shops must meet the 175.01 EUR minimum purchase amount to be eligible for 10 separate VAT refunds. The individual shops are responsible for providing you with the tax refund form. So in answer to your query, the minimum amount is on a shop-by-shop basis.

      Not all shops participate in the tax refund scheme so look out for the Global Blue or Premier Tax Free signage in the shop window before you enter. In order to get your VAT refunded approved by Customs, you must show the following:

      – Invoice
      – Properly completed Tax Free Form (if this is not properly completed, Customs will not stamp it)
      – Your purchases

      Once Customs are satisfied with your documentation they will validate it and you can then go to the Global Blue or Premier Tax Free desk to lodge your documents and claim your refund. Remember, no Customs stamp = No refund.

      Remember to have your passport with you when you are doing duty-free shopping as your passport details are required for the tax free form.

      The process is quite simple and as long as you produce (i) your invoices (ii) tax free forms and (iii) show the goods purchased, you will get your Customs stamps.

      Happy shopping.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

    • avatar says

      Gladys,
      The total purchases in a shop in Switzerland must amount to more than CHF 300 (including VAT). The CHF 300 must be made up of purchases in the one shop and this shop will be responsible for issuing you the Tax Free Form.
      If you then go to a second shop to buy things, your purchases in the second shop must amount to more than CHF 300 to be eligible for tax refund. This second shop will issue you a Tax Refund Cheque for your purchases through them.

      Kind regards,
      Helen

  55. avatarGeno says

    Hi Helen, Geno again!

    I always use your page and the comments I left to reference when others need assistance.

    My aunt and uncle are in Paris, but leaving from Paris unlike my situation I posted just over a year ago.

    It looks like that guy just above got lied to and bamboozled by airport staff. That must have been horrible having him go BACK to the other terminal, when T5 is on a remote location–causing him to miss his opportunity to get the refund. I think this is where it is essential to go early, for those who are not familiar.

    Anyways, I had to glance at this page and my notes so I can assist my aunt and uncle.

    I hope all is well, do you have a page like this but from other locations? Or is the main blog post you have regarding VAT refunds.

    You are welcomed to clean up my post and reference it on the top so people dont have to read through all the comments.

    Can’t thank you enough for your page. A year later, I’m still thankful.

  56. avatarnicole says

    hi Irene,

    There is a spelling mistake in my name on VAT Tax form. Because the chanel Store Assistant key in my name wrongly.

    When i reached airport i only realised there is a spelling mistake in my name but the customs officer already stamped my tax forms. in this case , i wonder i still can get my refund or not?

    please advise

  57. avatarJO says

    Hi Helen,

    I chanced upon your website because i was trying to find tourists that would be facing the situation that I am facing at the moment.

    I submitted my Premier tax free claim early July, (had unfortunately chosen the credit card option) and because I had not received any refund yet, I went on to the Premier Tax Free Refund tracking system to check my status.

    The email I received back almost made me cry! The customer representative said that they have not received my voucher to date! She did mention that she would accept the green copy (for our own records) but that it would have to be stamped.

    Unfortunately, the custom officer did not stamp my green copy, I am guessing they only stamp the copy that is to be mailed out. And since I did not see your website till now, I stupidly did not take a photo of my forms.

    Can you please give me some advice? I am still hoping that their “have not received my voucher to date” is because they do take quite long to process (i have heard 4 to 8 months) and is not because my form has gone missing!

    Thanks in advance,
    Frustrated JO

    • avatarAdam says

      Hi JO,

      I had a similar situation like you. I submitted my Premier Tax Free claim on 1 Sep and until today (almost 3 months) they still claim they have not received my tax refund voucher. I do not know if this is due to their slow efficiency in processing the claim or lost in mail …

      The tax voucher was mailed using the prepaid envelope. I dropped it in a yellow mail box at Paris CDG airport. I called the Premier Tax Free customer service and they said it could be due to Paris CDG airport being slow in sending out the mails. I doubt what they said is true. I submitted multiple tax refund claims in September, some to Global Blue and some to Premier Tax Free (both using the mailing method). I already received the refund from Global Blue about 2 months back and I hear nothing from Premier Tax Free. Both mails were dropped into the same mail box, so I don’t think it is the airport that sent out the mail late. I am more inclined to think that it is either lost in mail or slow processing speed at Premier Tax Free.

      I am currently exploring the option to obtain custom stamp on my tourist copy by mailing it to the French consulate and then mail the stamped form to Premier Tax Free. Has anyone done this before?

      I feel so helpless … I regret I did not choose the cash refund option.

      Adam

      • avatar says

        Hi Adam,

        I tend to agree with you and doubt that the reason given to you by Premier Tax Free is credible. There is no reason for Paris CDG Airport to delay sending out mail, and certainly not by 3 months. As mentioned in my reply to Jo, I too had a similar experience with Premier Tax Free. I never got my tax refund when I dropped my forms into their dedicated box at Rome FCO.

        You could, as you suggested, check with the French consulate and get their advice and assistance. Alternatively, you can also get a stamp from your own Customs department and send in your claim. Before sending in anything in the mail to Premier Tax Free, I would take a copy of the documents.

        It is very frustrating when you’ve done the right thing and your claim just disappears. At least in your case you’ve got your refund from Global Blue. I guess in future you would want to get cash refunds from Premier Tax Free.

        Good luck and kind regards,
        Helen Page

    • avatar says

      Hi Jo,
      Apologies for the late reply. We’ve been travelling around China in the past month and internet connection was either not available or not secure so we didn’t want to take the risk.
      I’m sorry to hear about your missing tax refund claims from Premier Tax Free. I too had such an experience with Premier Tax Free years ago and that’s why I prefer the cash refund option, even though they charge a small fee for this service. It’s too easy for them to say that your forms haven’t been received and there’s you can do about it.
      If you’ve been told that they’ll accept your green copy, then I would contact the Customs people in your home country and get their advice on where you can get the Customs stamp. And don’t forget to make copies before you put anything in the mail.
      Alternatively, if say, most of your shopping was done in Italy, you could contact the Italian consulate in your home town and see if they will stamp your document for you.
      If you’ve spent a bit of money on your shopping, it’s worth giving these options a go.

      Good luck with your claims. Best regards,
      Helen

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