Ireland VAT Tax/Taxback SchemeLearn about FEXCO and MoneyBack VAT Tax Refund Programs
Throughout your trip to Ireland you'll see signs for "Tax Free Shopping", which can be misleading or confusing to people who have never gone through the process before. Americans, and those not a member of the European Union (EU), can apply for a VAT Tax Refund at the airport when exiting Ireland however only a portion of the total VAT Tax paid is refunded, making "Tax Free Shopping" more or less "Reduced Tax Shopping".
Each purchase you make on clothing or souvenirs is taxed at a rate of 23% (as of 2021) however many stores participate in some type of "tax back" program whereby a third-party company processes the receipts and vouchers you turn in. That third-party company takes a percentage for their work which is why you have three different types of tax back vouchers -- making them all compete for each shop's business.
Keep in mind that small purchases aren't worth declaring therefore you should set a minimum limit when asking for Tax Back... and remember, you won't receive the entire VAT Tax back! On average you'll receive 60% of the VAT paid for each item purchased.
On-the-Spot Ireland VAT Tax Refunds
We noticed recently that many stores offer tax back immediately utilizing FEXCO Tax Back scheme. They charge you the cost of the product(s) without the VAT and issue you a FEXCO card which is similar to a credit card. You can use this card multiple times for purchases where the merchant uses FEXCO. I believe the other is the MoneyBack card scheme. Both work the same and the cards can be saved to use on subsequent visits.
You will pay less upfront when the tax is taken off at the store.
Ireland Airport VAT Tax Refunds
You think, "I didn't pay tax on my purchases so I'm done!" WRONG!
If you do not check out at the airport and show that you are leaving Ireland and heading to a non-EU country, the VAT tax will be charged back to whatever card you used to make your purchases. In one month you'll see charges on your credit card and think that it was stolen.
Automated Airport Kiosks for VAT Tax Refunds
The staffed desks are now replaced with automated kiosks and one or two reps to help you through the very simple process:
- Enter your name, address, email, passport # and flight #
- Swipe your FEXCO card
- Swipe your credit card
That is it - you're done! You can head over to US Customs and Immigration Clearance to board your plane for home.
Forgot to Claim Your VAT Refund?
We had a few issues at the airport in 2011 and when I came home I went online to process my refund to ensure they did not charge the tax back to my credit card. The only difference from doing it at the airport is that you must print a form, sign it and have it notarized. Your bank should provide this service free of charge to account holders so there is no cost other than a stamp ... they want the notarized copy.
Ireland VAT Tax Refund Processing Fees
As with all things in life, there is a fee involved and you don't have a choice in the matter. The fee is approximately €14 (as of 2014) to process your Irish VAT Refund through FEXCO Tax Back Scheme. We don't really buy many souvenirs at this point so this was almost half of the refund. This amount will be charged to your credit card...