How to get VAT refund for purchased Swiss items

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Swincooper
Swincooper
6 posts
new member
Oct 3, 2019 - 1:12 AM

Hi everyone,

I'm travelling to Swiss in November 2019.
Yes, this is my first trip to Swiss and I'm very excited to explore the country. On top of that, I am planning to buy some Swiss items which will perhaps value over 300CHF. I know that I am eligible to claim VAT Refund and I'm going to do so. I have a question if anyone is able to guide me the Swiss Customs office/kiosk where is located in Basel and the operating/business hours so I can plan ahead and get the VAT refund form stamped.

According to my iternary, I will be arriving Basel on Saturday afternoon and leaving Swiss heading to Paris on Sunday by TGV train at Basel SBB. Is Swiss Customs openned on Sunday? Thank you for your time and input :)

Ildiko
Ildiko
388 posts
top member &
moderator
Oct 3, 2019 - 6:25 PM in reply to Swincooper

Hi Swincooper,

you'll find 2 offices at the airport according to this map at www.pwebapps.ezv.admin .ch/apps/dst/?lang=4, but to be honest I am not sure which one do you need. Maybe another forum member has more personal experiences and will share it with us. If not, I suggest you to write them here: www.ch.ch/en/feedback.

You might find this site also useful: www.ch.ch/en/swiss-customs/. You'll find information about the Basel airport at www.myswissalps.com/ai rports/basel.

As you are traveling to Paris, check this too: www.myswissalps.com/tr aintickets/france

Last modified on Oct 3, 2019 - 6:25 PM by Ildiko
Swincooper
Swincooper
6 posts
new member
Oct 6, 2019 - 12:21 AM in reply to Ildiko

Hi Ildiko,

Thank you for your info. I'm buying items for my personal usage. I wrote an inquiry to Tourist Information Basel SBB as well and then received a message from there two days ago;

"the Swiss customs office is at the French side of the train station. As it is a flexible office there are no official opening hours or a contact number. Please note that the customs office at the German railway station is a German customs office. It is located at Badischer Bahnhof which is is approximately 15 minutes by tram (tram no. 2 direction Eglisée) away from the Swiss railway station. The next Swiss customs office is at the motorway."

It seems that Swiss customs office is limited to be found (no guarantee to find an Swiss officer in certain time which is not convenient for tourists travelling on train internationally) and located distances from the main Basel SBB train station. On the other hand, EU Custom offices can be officially found. This assumption is based on info I received from searching, I may be wrong .

Last modified on Oct 6, 2019 - 12:58 AM by Swincooper
Suzanne
Suzanne
138 posts
active member &
moderator
Oct 6, 2019 - 7:31 AM

Hello Swincooper,

Welcome to MySwissAlps!

Crossing Switzerland borders via train can make collecting your VAT tricky. The Swiss Customs office are usually not open on Sundays and they don't keep regular set hours of operations either.

I know many of the souvenirs shops or higher end shops in Switzerland may offer to handle the VAT refund for you. When you purchase a total amount of 300 CHF or more, they will take off the VAT immediately and you fill out the tax-free form on the spot with the shop. Just make sure you bring a photo copy of your passport when you are shopping and be on a look out for a Tax-Free sticker on the store window.

If you are purchasing several items from different shops you can process your duty free purchases with private companies like Global Blue, which is popular in world-wide. Your Vat refund is usually given in cash (Swiss Francs) or they can refund your credit card or they mail it to you (both takes some time).

www.globalblue.com/tax -free-shopping/switzerland/

I wish you in advance a wonderful time in Switzerland!

Best regards,

Suzanne

Swincooper
Swincooper
6 posts
new member
Oct 6, 2019 - 3:10 PM in reply to Suzanne

Hi Suzanne,

Thank you very much for your helpful info. It is very convenient for tourists if most of souvenirs shops could take off the VAT immediately from the purchases(most likely, the shops may request a credit card for guarantee); however, its a important matter that tourists are still have to take the completed VAT Refund form from the purchases as well as the receipts to get a stamp on the form by the Swiss officer, and then send the stamped form to global blue for the full claim process

For those tourists who receive the VAT refund either taken off on spot at the shops or cashback in advance prior to getting a stamp by the customs after that, they will have to pay back VAT plus fees from a credit card requested earlier at the shops.

Last modified on Oct 6, 2019 - 3:43 PM by Swincooper
Suzanne
Suzanne
138 posts
active member &
moderator
Oct 6, 2019 - 4:40 PM

Hello Swincooper,

These days in retail, shops don't take your credit card information. Legally they cannot "charge back" for the unrecovered VAT loses on your card. The shops just have to absorb the loses. If by chance you purchase something over 300 CHF and you need to get the stamp from the Swiss customs and you can't get it, don't sweat over it. There will be no additional charges on your card. I know this for a fact because I use to work at a retail shop and I processed these tax free forms all day.

Have fun shopping in Switzerland!

Best regards,

Suzanne

cam223
cam223
93 posts
active member
Oct 7, 2019 - 7:39 PM

VAT has to be claimed in the country where you purchased the items. You can't get a French official to handle Swiss purchases. When we bought items in Paris and took the TGV to Basel, we had to find a French official in Basel to handle the forms. Forget about mailing it in once you get back to the US, this procedure requires the help of that country's embassy or consulate here in the US. That's almost impossible to get. There aren't any French officials at the train stations in Paris. Finding the official was tricky and we had the help of several train station employees who found the right office for us. Good luck!

Slowpoke
Slowpoke
6862 posts
expert
Oct 7, 2019 - 11:59 PM in reply to Swincooper

Hi Swincooper-

Just how much money for you is involved as VAT? (Not how much did you spend...how much VAT?)

Is it worth it to go through the time-consuming processes, when you could be sightseeing instead?

Slowpoke

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