Yes you can claim back VAT on watches
All new retail goods are VAT claimable. Also watches. It's not possible to claim back VAT on second-hand watches, or in fact any second-hand goods since the VAT has already been paid.
A lot of people go to Europe to buy their watches and then claim back the VAT. And there are two ways to do.
1. Claim back the VAT on your own.
This is rather complicated, and the process varies from country to country and is not advisable if this is a very rare purchase or it is a substantial amount.
You can read more at the EU Comissions Homepage: Guide to VAT refund article.
2. Use a VAT service provider.
Global Blue is by far the biggest provider of this service with more than +300.000 stores using their services.
Doestnt matter which of the above solutions you choose to go with, these following steps are applicable for both:
- When you are in the shop, ask the shop assistant in advance whether they provide tax-free service.
- Ask the shop assistant what threshold applies to the purchase in order to be eligible for a refund.
- At the check-out, the shop assistant will ask you to provide proof that you are a visitor to the EU. You will need to show your passport or other identity document proving your residence outside the EU.
- The shop assistant will ask you to fill in a form with the necessary details. You may be asked to show your ticket as proof you are leaving the EU within the required time. The shop assistant will fill in the shop’s part of the form.
- Make sure you understand exactly what you need to do and how you receive the refund. In some cases, the shop itself will refund you. In other cases, the shop will use a third party to organize the refunds on its behalf.
- Make sure you understand whether the shop takes an administrative fee for this service (which will be later deducted from the refunded amount) and if so what is the fee.
- You will receive an invoice for the goods. You must show the invoice, the refund form, the goods and any other necessary documents to the customs officers of the last EU country you leave. The customs officers must stamp the form as proof of export. Without the stamp, you will not obtain the refund.
- You must then follow the steps explained at your refund document or by the shop assistant. You can claim your VAT refund in bigger airports immediately with companies like Global Blue, please bear in mind they take a fee for their service, otherwise, you will have to send the refund form to the address given in the shop.
IMPORTANT to notice:
You must claim your VAT within 3 months of purchase.