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Switzerland Eases VAT Refund Rules For Tourists

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

07 August 2020

Effective August 1, 2020, Switzerland relaxed the rules for tourists seeking to export goods free from tax.

Prior to the change, tourists had just 30 days to export goods purchased while in Switzerland to obtain a VAT refund. Following the change, tourists now have 90 days.

Supplies of goods rendered to tourists (people domiciled abroad) are exempt from tax only if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The retail price of the goods must be at least CHF300 (including VAT). However, the retail price excluding VAT has to be indicated in the export document;
  • The buyer may not be domiciled on Swiss territory. It is irrelevant whether the buyer is a Swiss or foreign national;
  • The goods must be intended for the personal use of the buyer or as gifts;
  • Following the handover, the buyer must export the goods to a foreign customs territory within the period specified in the FDF Ordinance (now 90 days, for goods purchased from August 1, 2020).

If the retailer does not immediately grant the VAT refund and undertake the necessary processes on the buyer's behalf, when leaving Swiss territory, the buyer must present the goods and the completed export document at a Swiss customs office.

The export document must be drawn up in the name of the buyer and may contain solely goods supplied to this person. The buyer can then obtain a refund from one of a number of tax refund companies, typically present in airport terminals as well as elsewhere in Switzerland.

Alternatively, the export can be confirmed on the export document by a recognized office abroad, such as foreign customs authorities and Swiss embassies or consulates in the country where the buyer is domiciled.

TAGS: tax | value added tax (VAT) | Switzerland | retail

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