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  • TheWayToItaly

A Guide to Tax Refunds for Tourist Shopping in Italy

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Italy, with its rich cultural heritage, exquisite fashion, and delectable cuisine, is a dream destination for millions of tourists. Exploring the vibrant streets of Rome, shopping along the stylish avenues of Milan, or strolling through the charming markets of Florence can offer unforgettable experiences.

Wouldn't it be great if you could potentially get a tax refund on your purchases? In this blog post, I'll guide you through the process of claiming a tax refund in Italy and help you maximize your savings.

Understanding VAT (Value Added Tax)

Value Added Tax, commonly referred to as VAT or IVA (Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto) in Italy, is a consumption tax imposed on goods and services. The standard VAT rate in Italy is 12-22%, but it can vary depending on the type of product or service. As a non-European Union (EU) resident, you are eligible for a tax refund on eligible purchases made within Italy.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for a tax refund, you must meet the following criteria:

- You are a non-EU resident.

- You are visiting Italy as a tourist.

- The goods you purchased are for personal use and will be taken out of the EU.

Identifying Tax-Free Stores

Look for the "Tax-Free Shopping" or "Global Blue" signs displayed in participating stores. These stores have the necessary arrangements to facilitate tax refunds. You can also inquire with the store staff about their tax refund procedures.

Some sales representatives will suggest the VAT program, but to be sure you start the process it's always your responsibility to ask.

Making Your Purchases

Ensure that your purchases meet the minimum spending requirement specified by the store. Usually, it ranges from €150 to €250. Remember to request a tax refund form (also known as a Tax-Free Form) from the store at the time of purchase. The form should include your personal information, details of the purchased items, and the total VAT amount paid.

While you are making the purchase and the salesperson is starting the VAT paperwork, they will ask for your passport. Be sure to carry a photocopy of your passport or keep one on yur phone to make the information exchange easier and quicker.

Validation of Your Tax-Free Form

Before departing Italy, you must get your tax-free form validated by Customs. Here's how:

- Visit the Customs Office (Ufficio Dogane) at the last EU departure point in Italy (usually the airport).

- Ensure that you have the purchased items, receipts, and your passport with you.

- Present your tax-free form to the Customs officer for validation.

- The officer may ask to inspect the goods, so keep them easily accessible.

Getting Your Tax Refund

Once your tax-free form is validated, you have two options for receiving your refund:

1. Instant Refund: Some tax-free service providers offer an instant refund service at the airport or city center. Present your validated tax-free form, and they will refund the VAT amount in cash or credit your credit card.

2. Mailed Refund: If you opt for a mailed refund, ensure that you have provided accurate contact information on the tax-free form. The refund will be processed by the tax-free service provider, and the amount will be transferred to your bank account or credit card.

Important Tips and Considerations

- Keep all your purchase receipts and tax-free forms somewhere within reach until you receive your refund.

- Be aware that there may be administrative fees or a commission deducted from your refund amount by the tax-free service provider. It should be clearly stated ahead of time.

- Some stores may offer additional discounts or promotions for tax-free shoppers, so don't forget to take advantage of those opportunities.

- Plan your time wisely and allow for sufficient time to complete the tax refund process at the airport before your departure. Lines at the airport for the VAT refund can be as long as your airline check-in line so plan accordingly.

- Familiarize yourself with the specific tax refund policies and procedures of the tax-free service provider you choose to ensure a smooth experience.

Claiming a tax refund for your purchases in Italy is an excellent way to save money and make your travel experience even more rewarding. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate the tax refund process with ease. Remember to keep your receipts, obtain the necessary tax-free forms, validate them at Customs, and choose between instant or mailed refunds. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can enjoy the benefits of tax-free shopping and make the most of your travel budget in Italy.

Happy shopping and safe travels!


The Way To Italy has been providing fee-based, custom travel planning for travelers to Italy for 23 years. I handcraft once-in-a-lifetime Italy experiences down to the last detail.



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