GETTING YOUR VAT REFUND AT FRANKFURT AIRPORT IS A BREEZE:
If you’ve been through the VAT refund process at Rome Fiumicino, Amsterdam Schiphol or London Heathrow, you’ll be somewhat familiar with “How to get your VAT refund process at Frankfurt Airport“, except for where the VAT refund desks are. Our flight out of Frankfurt was from Terminal 1 and the VAT refund locations mentioned below refer to Terminal 1.
Frankfurt Airport T1
We arrived early at Frankfurt Airport Terminal 1 and had time to check out the location of the Customs desk and the VAT refund companies. A large board in the departure hall points to the Hall B Customs area. This sign also states that this Customs desk operates from 10 am to 6:30 pm only, but it doesn’t mention where to go if you are on a later flight. But no need to panic, for VAT claims after 6:30 pm, you’ll need to proceed to the Customs desk next to Counter numbers 643-645.
VAT Refund Process
If you are packing your purchases into your check-in luggage:
1. Check-in for your flight and tell the airline staff that you would like to have your luggage back to get Customs export certification.
2. With your boarding pass and tagged luggage proceed to the Customs Desk and have your documents stamped. We had a late flight departure and so we had to go to Counter 643 – the closer and more convenient Hall B Customs desk closed promptly at 6:30 pm.
When we got to the Customs desk, we experienced a sinking feeling as there was a Chinese tour group in front of us, with some 30 people in the queue. Luckily, on this occasion, the tour guide was smart enough to organize his group and he provided assistance with their Customs verification. This helped to speed up the process immensely and the Customs officers were relieved at not having to deal with the language difficulties.
3. The Customs officer will ask if you have all your goods in your case and they can ask to see the goods. But when we were there we didn’t see anyone being asked to show their purchases.
4. After the Customs stamp you will deposit your luggage on trolleys next to the Customs desk and they are then taken by baggage workers to be dropped off at the carousels.
5. The Global Blue desks are next to Customs so I went and got my refund there. They charge Euros 3 for each VAT receipt if you want cash, which I did. This saves the hassles of anything going wrong or missing in the mail. Also, our bank charges us exchange fees as well as transaction fees for any credit card currency conversions back to Australian dollars.
If you don’t want cash, the refund will be credited to your credit card by the respective VAT refund agencies and no fees are payable. Before handing in your documents, take a snap of your Customs stamped documents just in case documents go missing in the mail.
Know the Rules
Most of my VAT refunds were with Global Blue and the lady I dealt with was very friendly. Next to me an Indian lady was very irate and abused the poor Global Blue worker because of the Euros 3 charge as she thought it was a rip-off. The moral of the story is to be aware of the VAT refund terms and conditions and please don’t go tearing into the poor worker who is just doing his/her job.
Other VAT Refund Companies
Being the main VAT refund company, the Global Blue desk is just next to Customs. However, you’ll find the other VAT refund companies like Premier Tax Free, Tax Free Germany and Tax Free Worldwide at counters 561-567, opposite from the Customs desk.
One of my VAT cheques was from Tax Refund for Tourist and unfortunately this company does not have an office in Germany and so I had to mail my form. There is a Deutsche Post box around the corner and no stamps are required if mailed within Europe. I followed my own advice and took a copy of the documents before mailing them. A week after I had returned home I tried to tracked my VAT refund online and was told that they hadn’t received my documents. I emailed all the copies of my forms and they then acknowledged that they had received them and paid me the refund.
Other companies like Premier Tax Free, Tax Free Worldwide and Tax Refund for Germany are represented at Frankfurt Airprot.
VAT Refund at Frankfurt Airport is easy
We found that getting our VAT refund at Frankfurt Airport was quite easy and it took only 15 minutes, in spite of being behind a tour group. But do allow time as you can never tell how quickly the groups are processed. After we finished, another big group arrived.