LivingTravelAll about VAT tax in Greece

All about VAT tax in Greece

Travelers to Greece may notice a VAT tax added to their receipts. It can be substantial, up to 25 percent of the total, but the good news is that some VAT taxes can be refunded at the airport if you’re willing to take the time to prepare.

What is a VAT tax?

VAT is the acronym for Value Added Tax, a surcharge on most goods and services in the European Union. In Greek, it’s called FPA and you can see it printed as ΦΠΑ on a receipt, usually with a close percentage.

Different types of purchases will incur different levels of VAT tax. In June 2016, Greece increased the VAT tax on many food purchases to 24 percent. If you have bought a tour package, there is now a difference in the VAT tax for the lodging portion and the VAT tax for the food portion, so expect some numbers that don’t seem to add up. In general, one third of the cost of the tour package will be placed in the category of “food” which is charged at the highest VAT tax rate. Food is taxed at 13 percent and hotel accommodation and books are taxed at 6.5 percent.

How to get a VAT refund in Greece

While EU citizens must pay the tax, non-EU citizens can get some of the charges refunded when they leave Greece. In order to receive the refund, there are a few steps you will need to follow.

  1. Look for a “VAT Refund” or “Tax Free Shopping Network” sign in a shop window. That indicates that the store is participating in the program, or at least claiming to do so. Since a minimum purchase is required (around $ 150 USD), you will generally only find these signs in more upscale stores (art galleries, designer clothing stores, jewelry stores) where the average purchase is likely to exceed the minimum. The VAT refund also applies to hotel bills, car rentals and other tourist service providers outside the European Union.
  1. The merchant will ask to see your passport, so take it with you for major purchases. You can try to use a full color copy of your photos and information page in your passport, but it may not be accepted. This is the worst thing about the VAT program: having to risk carrying your passport while shopping.
  2. Make your purchase, request your receipt and request a VAT refund form. There are many incentives for the merchant to “forget” the form, so be sure to receive it. Some merchants will insist that tourists have to obtain the refund form at the airport, but this is not the case. The merchant must issue the form together with the receipt.
  1. At the airport, bring the item you purchased (not always verified, but they can ask for it), the receipt and the form to the VAT refund counter located at the Eurochange currency exchange offices on the departure level. If you can’t find it, look for the “Global Refund” or “Tax Free Premier” signs.
  2. Obviously, if you intend to put the item you purchased in your checked luggage to take home, you must process the refund before you check your luggage. Otherwise, keep it in your carry-on bag.

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