TOURIST is a natural person who has no permanent residence on the territory of the European Union. TOURIST is entitled to the refund of VAT paid on goods purchased on the territory of the Republic of Poland or another Member State, then exported untouched from the European Union in TOURIST’S personal luggage – Art. 126, par. 1 of the Act on tax on goods and services of 11 March 2004, - (Dz. U. 2020.106).

Step 1 Purchase of goods

Purchase of goods in the TAX FREE system can only be done in shops labeled with the following sign - Art. 127 par. 4 item 3 of the Act):

TAX FREE for Tourists

In such a shop SELLER shall provide the tourist with written information on the principles on tax refund in four languages: Polish, English, German and Russian - Art. 127 par. 4 item. 2 of the Act).

TOURIST who has purchased the goods on the territory of Poland is entitled to receive a TAX FREE document which lists all the goods purchased. The document should be attached with the cash register receipt. In accordance with the provisions, refund of VAT is reserved for all goods purchased in the country with the exception of engine fuels - Art. 126, par. 3 of the Act. The minimum amount of the total value of purchases including taxes on goods and services for which the tourist may claim a tax refund on goods and services paid on the purchase of the goods is 200 zł - (Dz.U. 2017. 1248).

Step 2 eService - Tax Free electronic notification

In order to provide better service for TOURISTS exporting goods and using TAX FREE documents, in 2012 Polish Customs Service introduced the possibility of prior notification to the "VAT Refund for Tourists" system. This solution is applied only within the border crossings located on Polish territory. Using a special form, TOURISTS can on his own declare previously purchased and exported goods, which will significantly reduce the processing time of such notification. Description of the procedure and the virtual declaration form of TAX FREE documents are available at in the TAX FREE section.

Step 3 Export of goods

Purchased goods must be exported from the European Union territory no later than on the last day of the third month following the month in which the purchase was made – Art. 128, par. 1 of the Act. Export of goods should take place through the border crossing (road, railway, airport or sea) located in any Member State. At the border crossing the competent CUSTOMS OFFICE shall confirm on the TAX FREE document the export of goods from the European Union territory. TOURIST should report exported goods to customs officer in order to confirm the export and submit a TAX FREE document along with a passport or other document confirming the identity - art. 128, par. 3 of the Act. If not all of the goods listed in the TAX FREE document are exported it is absolutely required to inform the customs officer about the missing goods before customs clearance begins. After verification of compliance of data included in the TAX FREE document with the identity document, customs officer may examine goods before confirming the export. In case of inconsistencies between the declared goods and the goods actually exported (eg, missing of goods) TOURIST will be subject to criminal liability.

When TOURIST left the territory of the European Union through the border crossing located in the territory of a Member State other than that of the Republic of Poland (eg LITHUANIA), tax refund is granted if the TAX FREE document has been endorsed by the customs office through which the goods were actually exported from the territory of the European Union (in this case - Lithuanian customs authority) - Art. 128, par. 5 of the Act. It is important to note that there is no specific, universal way of confirming TAX FREE documents submitted to the customs authorities that are legally binding in all EU Member States. How to confirm the export of goods on TAX FREE documents and the types of stamps and official seals are specified in the internal regulations of the Member States (according to Directive 2006/112/EC the specimens of the stamps that are use to confirm TAX FREE documents are submitted to the Commission by the Member State). For example, "VAT REFUND" stamp and official seal "Poland - Duty" are use to confirm on TAX FREE documents the export of goods from the European Union territory through the border crossings located in the territory of the Republic of Poland. Specimen stamp is set out in Annex 2 of the Regulation of the Minister of Finance dated 28 March 2011 (Dz.U. 2018 poz. 521). Specimen of the stamp "Poland - Duty" is defined in § 2 (Dz. U. 2019. 2426).

Step 4 VAT refund

Tax may be refunded by the SELLER in the shop where goods were purchased or by an economic operator who provides the tax refund service (agent). VAT is returned in Polish Zloty (PLN) as cash, the transfer order, check or credit card - Art. 127, par. 5 of the Act. Seller and agent are entitled to charge the TOURIST with the commission on the amount of refunded tax - art. 128 par. 128 item 6 of the Act.

It should be emphasized that the SELLER, as opposed to an agent, is entitled to tax refund only if he was the seller of goods. To obtain a refund of VAT, TOURIST must provide SELLER with the document confirming exportation of goods outside the European Union not later than before the expiry of 10 months from the end of the month in which the goods were supplied - Art. 129, par. 2 of the Act.

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