Taxes For Members

How can you claim back the money you’ve paid in Austrian VAT?

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
How can you claim back the money you’ve paid in Austrian VAT?
At 20 percent VAT for most goods, getting back that tax money may make a sizeable impact to anyone visiting Austria from outside the EU. (Photo by ANDRE PAIN / AFP)

If you live in Austria, you won’t be able to get VAT money back. But if you’re visiting from outside the EU – or one of your family members is – here’s what you need to keep in mind about getting that money back.


Austrian residents are all too familiar with how much VAT can hit your wallet.

Most items and services come with a VAT rate of 20 percent. That’s fairly normal by European standards. But compared to the US, which only has state-level VAT – or Canada, which only has a federal VAT of five percent, in addition to whatever provincial VAT might be in place – it’s a high bill. Even the reduced VAT rate of 13 percent – which applies to some cultural goods and activities like cinema tickets or importing art – is already high compared to some jurisdictions in the world.

Getting an Austrian VAT refund is possible though – depending on your eligibility and if you have the right paperwork.

READ ALSO: How high is the tax burden in Austria compared to other countries?

Who can get an Austrian VAT refund?

For someone to get a refund on VAT they’ve spent in Austria, they need to be resident outside of the EU. That means that if you live in Austria – or indeed even in another EU country and you’re just on a trip to Austria – you can’t claim back Austrian VAT.

But while it may not make a difference for you in a case like this, it might for your family members or friends if they come visit you from outside the EU. With the price of airline tickets and the cost of coming to Austria in the first place, getting back some of the tax they’ve paid may make a tremendous difference in cushioning the financial impact of their visit.

To prove eligibility, you must have a cross-border travel document, such as your passport, which indicates your residence outside of the EU.

You must also take whatever you purchased with you in your personal luggage outside the EU – within three months of purchasing it. So if your Mom came to visit you last Christmas and forgot a purchase she made at yours – too bad.

Obviously with a stipulation like this, you’re limited to being able to get your VAT back on physical goods, rather than services like restaurant meals or opera tickets.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about filing taxes in Austria


What documentation do you need?

Firstly, you’ll need an invoice or receipt for the goods you purchased. To get your VAT back, the invoiced amount, including VAT, must exceed €75. So unfortunately, this is only going to work if you’ve dropped a fair chunk of change somewhere – such as a lot of money in one clothes store or perhaps a work of art you want to take home.

Many sellers in Austria may be familiar with the requirements, so do ask them if you have questions. Some may carry Global Blue forms, for example, which are specifically designed for this. But be sure to ask at the time of your purchase. Some vendors may even have Global Blue stickers indicating that they carry these forms.

non tax resident spain

Make sure you visit the Tax Back airport desks before checking your bags. Photo: Oleksandr P/Pexels

The person non-resident in the EU and taking these items with them will need to pay, so if you buy a present for your visiting family member for them to take home, you probably can’t get the VAT back.

You then need to take these forms to an appropriate VAT refund desk when you depart. Vienna International Airport has one such desk. You will typically need to head there before you check in your bags and present them with the forms. They may then check your passport, your destination and may even ask you to show them the items concerned in your packed bag. To make this easier, it’s best to leave the price tags on the items concerned.

Once your forms are approved and you have your money back, check in your bags and enjoy the trip home!

READER QUESTION: How do I get from Vienna Airport to the city centre?



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