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Phileas Fogg and Passepartout approach the Swiss Alps

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VAT means Value Added Tax. It is also known as a Goods and Services Tax (GST). Many countries have this tax. If you are a visitor to a country that has a VAT/GST tax you may be entitled to get the VAT/GST amount you paid for a  purchase when you leave the country or after you get home.    

Here is some general information about European VAT for travelers who are not from a European Union country.

1. VAT refunds for business travelers for business expenses are different from those for leisure travelers and you will probably be able to get back more money. There are companies that specialize in helping businesses recover VAT taxes.

2. VAT refunds for leisure travelers are limited to merchandise you buy. Some countries have a minimum purchase amount per store you must meet to get the VAT back. (For example, in Ireland there is no minimum, but in Switzerland, the minimum is $310 per store.)

3. Not all stores participate in the VAT refund program. Look for a "Cashback' or "Tax Free Shopping" sign.
4. If you want to claim a VAT refund you will have to get a stamped refund form or Global refund check before you leave the store. Then, at customs, when leaving the country, you will need to present the form or check to get it stamped.

5. If it is a stamped refund form, you can usually find a kiosk at the airport that will give you your refund minus a small commission. Otherwise, you can mail it in when you get home.

6. If it is a Global Refund check you can either cash it at a refund desk at major airports in Europe or mail it in. You can find out more about the Global Refund service by visiting their website

Wikipedia - Value Added Tax. Start here if you are unfamiliar with VAT/GST. They have everything you want to know about VAT/GST worldwide whether you are a tourist or businessperson.
Worldwide Information
The European Union, Canada, India, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand all have VAT/GST systems.
International Sales Tax Refund Corporation (INSATAX)  They can recover VAT taxes for your company on business expenses in Canada and Europe.
VAT/GST Refunds.  The World Travel & Tourism Tax Policy Center provides a clear and concise explanation of VAT worldwide with extensive links to sites that will assist you in recovering VAT expenses.
GlobalRefund They offer a worldwide Tax Free Shopping service and are in 35 countries and at more than 230,000 retail outlets around the globe. Therefore you can always be sure to enjoy our services in almost every place you visit.  Just look for the Global Refund Tax Free Shopping signs in shop windows or inside the shop, and make your purchases there.
Worldwide VAT Recovery. Quipsound is a firm in the United Kingdom that can help recover VAT expenses worldwide.
Retourtax.    Another VAT recovery company for business expenses.

Rick Steves - Value Added Tax Refunds.  This is the well-known travel author's page on the European VAT with information for tourists about shopping and making purchases in Europe and how to get a VAT refund..
EuroVAT Refund.  Euro VAT Refund, Inc. is a Los Angeles, California, USA based financial services firm that specializes in assisting North American companies in managing Value Added Tax reclaim and registration worldwide.
General VAT information for Tourists.  Information about VAT refunds for tourists visiting the United Kingdom.
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