Tax free shopping in Italy
One very easy way to avoid all this hassle is to shop in stores that display a “Tax Free Shopping” or “Euro Tax Free” sign in their window. To be sure, this won’t cover all the shopping you’re likely to do in Italy, but if you can make all or most of your big purchases in shops that are ready and willing to help you get your VAT refund easily at the airport before you go home.
In these “Tax Free Shopping” stores, you’ll need to show your passport when you make your purchase, and you’ll get a check for the VAT amount along with the receipt for the goods. When you get to the airport, you’ll still need to go through the rigmarole of finding that special line at the customs office and having the receipts stamped, but then you’ll take the receipts - and that check the merchant gave you - to the “Tax Free” booth in the airport where they’ll give you cash for that check. These booths are typically near the airport’s Duty-Free Shop.
Who carries out vat refund
The refund is made directly by the Italian seller according to the terms agreed with the buyer when the goods were purchased (for example, by credit into a bank account, credit card, cheque, etc.).
Alternatively, there are some TAX-FREE companies that can grant immediate VAT cash refund when the goods leave the Italian or Community territory, i.e. without the passenger to return the invoice to the seller: however you can use this procedure only at the most important airports or Customs borders.
More often, TAX-FREE companies provide only a service on behalf of the Italian sellers (more and more sellers join these companies) assuring a faster VAT refund: In this case, the invoices issued by the Italian sellers have the logo of the TAX-FREE company which they belong to with the address where the traveller must return the invoice regularly endorsed by the Customs of exit from the Community territory.
In both cases, however, the services supplied by TAX-FREE companies imply the payment of a sum which is directly deducted from the amount of VAT refunded to the traveller.
Should the foreign traveller have returned the invoice to the Italian seller or to the TAX-FREE companies authorized to the refund and, after a reasonable lapse of time, he does not get the refund, he shall contact again the Italian seller or the companies above, providing them with all the details contained in the invoice concerning the purchase of goods and the period when they were purchased in Italy.
In any case, VAT cannot be refunded directly by Customs offices; therefore, whatever notification the financial administration may receive will imply exclusively a control of the Italian seller by the competent bodies.