According to the national legal and regulatory provisions on customs and VAT, all non-EU citizens have the right to apply for a VAT refund, for the goods purchased within Italian territory.
Given the above, the non-European buyers may consider the following guidelines:
- Request to the merchant THE INVOICE on which it must be clearly printed the (1) nature, (2) quality and (3) quantity of the goods purchased. In addition to this, THE INVOICE must show the (4) total price divided by (5) taxable amount and (6) VAT applied. The sales receipt might be sufficient, provided it contains the six aforementioned requirements. Some retailers already have pre-defined formats in place for foreigners eligible for VAT refund.
- AT THE AIRPORT, BEFORE THE DEPARTURE TO RETURN TO THE COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE, visit the VAT REFUND counters, submit the invoice for the purchased goods and the cash refund of the VAT will be IMMEDIATELY processed. In case cash refund is not available, the amount of tax paid will be refunded on the credit card used for the purchase of the goods, or by international transfer.
- IF THERE ARE NO VAT REFUND OFFICES AT THE AIRPORT OF DEPARTURE (an event that might occur, especially at airports preferred by low-cost airline companies), OR THE OFFICES ARE NOT YET OPEN FOR THE DAY, non-EU citizens BEFORE CHECK-IN THE LUGGAGE should visit the Customs Office at the airport where the 24/7 on duty staff will officially stamp the fiscal document produced. Alert: THE CUSTOMS PERSONNEL MAY ASK TO INSPECT THE GOODS PURCHASED, hence it is better to visit the customs office before checking-in the luggage.
- Once back to their country, the non-EU citizens may COURIER THE TAX DOCUMENT STAMPED BY CUSTOMS OFFICE, TO THE STORE WHERE THE PURCHASE WAS DONE, against receipt of the mentioned document, the store will then process the refund.
The tax regulations currently in force defines that Customs Office is the only one authorized to stamp tax documents to be used by non-EU citizens for VAT refunds.
A tax document (invoice or receipt) stamped by Italian Consulates or Embassies would therefore have no value in regard to a VAT refund and the retailer will not process any refund against receipt of such an invalid document since in case of any control (by the Italian Finance Police or the Revenue Agency) sanctions would be applicable.