Zwrot VAT dla podróżnych – TAX FREE

If your shop is visited by a large number of foreign tourists, an additional incentive for them might be the possibility to recover VAT.  Owing to TAX FREE system foreigners from outside the EU have the chance to receive reimbursement of VAT paid on the purchase of goods in Poland.  

The system is beneficial both for consumers and retailers.  Under the fulfilment of conditions of the TAX FREE sales organisation it allows for the application of the 0 % rate of VAT.  It also gives the possibility of obtaining commission on the refund of VAT provided to travellers.  

Who can participate in the TAX FREE system?

If you want to join the TAX FREE sales system you should know that only so-called authorised dealers can be active in it.  What should you do in order to be able to sell TAX FREE? You must meet the following conditions:  

  • be registered as an active VAT taxable person, 
  • keep a record of turnover and amounts of tax due by using cash registers (read more about fiscal cash registers), 
  • you are required to conclude a contract with at least one of the entities entitled to repayment of VAT within the TAX FREE system or be itself an entity entitled to do so.  

If you meet these conditions, you should also:  

  • inform the head of the tax office in writing that you are seller in the TAX FREE system 
  • provide travellers with written information on the rules for the payment of VAT in four languages:  Polish, English, German and Russian;  
  • mark points of sale with a sign informing travellers about the possibilty of purchase of goods subject to reimbursement of VAT;

You can download the sign from  

  • to inform the head of the tax office about the place where the traveller purchasing goods can obtain VAT reimbursement, and with who they have concluded contracts for reimbursement of VAT and submit copies of these agreements.  

A tax refund 

You can make VAT refunds for travellers on your own, provided that your turnover in the preceding year was over PLN 400,000 and that you refund VAT only on goods purchased by a traveller from you.  
Important!  If you are entitled to reimbursement due to the amount of turnover in one year and in the subsequent year you lost the right (less turnover), you may still make a VAT refund, but in respect of sale which was made in the tax year in which the you were entitled.  An entity starting a business is not entitled in the first tax year of its activity to refund VAT to travellers even if in this year he has already exceeded the turnover threshold of PLN 400,000.

Other entities authorised to refund VAT within the TAX FREE system

You do not have to deal with the reimbursement of VAT personally. You can conclude a contract for such services with another entity, which deals with VAT refunds to travellers.  

Such entity has to meet certain conditions, among others, be registered in the form of a limited liability company or joint stock company, have been a taxable person registered for VAT for at least 12 months, in the last 12 months haven't had outstanding tax or social security contributions to ZUS, have deposited a guarantee security and holds a certificate from the Minister of Finance.

When can your customer get VAT refund?  

VAT refund (in PLN) may apply, if certain conditions are fulfilled.  

  • The purchaser of the goods must be natural persons, not resident on the territory of the European Union.  In other words, the qualification criterion is not nationality but the place of residence.  It shall be established on the basis of a passport or other document confirming identity. The purpose and the duration of the stay in Poland does not matter.  It does not constitute a barrier to a VAT refund if a person has dual nationality, e.g. Polish or American as long as the place of residence is the United States.  As proof of this passport or other identity document should be presented.  
  • The purchased goods must be exported outside the European Union intact.  This means that the goods must not be used, nor processed or subject to any other actions, which would have changed its state or nature.  
  • The purchased goods must be exported in personal luggage.  
  • The acquisition of goods must be properly documented.  The reimbursement of the VAT to the traveller is to present a document issued by the seller, the customs office at which dispatch was confirmed by a stamp in the numerator.  Provisions set up the scope of the necessary data that should be included in such a document.  In practice sellers allowed to sell in the TAX FREE system have templates for such documents.  The document shall be fitted with a cash register receipt issued by the seller.   Before the customs office confirms with a stamp dispatch of goods, it shall verify the conformity of data of traveller included in the document  with data included in the traveller's passport or other identity document. In the case where a traveller leaves the territory of the European Union from a Member State other than Poland, the VAT refund applies if the document issued by the seller was confirmed by the customs office through which the goods were exported from the territory of the European Union.
  • Purchased goods must have a total value of at least PLN 200 including VAT (gross).  It relates to single document issued by the seller and one receipt.  In view of the fact that one document issued by the seller, as well as the relevant receipt printed out of a fiscal cash register the seller may contain several items, relevant here is the total gross value of goods listed in the above-mentioned document and on a receipt.  
  • The goods must be exported outside the European Union, no later than the last day of the third month following that in which they were purchased, e.g. goods purchased on 15 July 2016, should be exported outside the territory of the European Union by 31 October 2016 at the latest. 

Let's follow this procedure on a specific example.  

Mr Jan Kowalski, citizen of Belarus, domiciled in Belarus, who is in Poland on business intends to purchase in Poland audiovisual equipment for himself.   
1. On 15 July 2016 he goes to the retail establishment marked ‘VAT REPAYMENT FOR TRAVELLERS", "TAX FREE" FOR TOURISTS, so the one which has the power to make sales in the TAX FREE system.  
2. When making the payment for audiovisual equipment by credit card he informs that he intends to export the goods outside the European Union, namely Belarus and therefore he wants to take advantage of VAT refunds.  
3. He receives from the seller the relevant document, which will form the basis for reimbursement together with the attached receipt from fiscal cash register.  Mr Jan Kowalski should check whether all necessary data are filled in this document, in particular his name, address, passport number, as well as information on the form of the reimbursement of VAT (for instance, in cash, by transfer to the bank account, transfer to a credit card). After that he should sign the document.

4. On 30 August 2016 at the border crossing point in Terespol he presents this document together with the attached receipt to the customs officer who after verification of personal data listed in the above-mentioned document and data in the passport shall stamp the document confirming dispatch outside the territory of the European Union.  

5. After the return from a trip, Mr Jan Kowalski sends by post the document with the attached receipt to retail establishments where he purchased the goods, as it is also entitled to refund VAT for travellers in the TAX FREE system.  
6. Commercial establishment (the seller) shall reimburse the amount of the VAT in PLN on the account of Mr Jan Kowalski, but the amount of that refund is reduced by the commission charged by the commercial establishment, under the relevant provisions of the VAT Act.  

An electronic notification of TAX FREE 

If you want to allow for a faster service of the TAX FREE documents at the border, you can use the service ‘VAT refund for travellers' made available by the Customs Service.  More about the system can be found on the website 

Additional information 

Find out how to settle VATin the TAX FREE  system<LINK> 

Read the information of the Ministry of Finance regarding TAX FREE sale

Legal bases 

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