VAT: How to get it back and save on shopping in Switzerland

VAT: HOW TO GET IT BACK AND SAVE ON SHOPPING IN SWITZERLAND

April 11, 2018


Are you looking for a new Rolex to add to your collection? Perhaps you want to experience the craftsmanship of a Swiss Cuckoo Clock (invented in Germany but perhaps perfected by the Swiss)?

Maybe you just want to go shopping on one of the world’s most expensive streets to visit Mont Blanc, Jimmy Choo and Tiffany’s all in one easy afternoon? There certainly is no shortage of shopping opportunities in Switzerland!

There is only one real drawback to shopping in Switzerland, and that is the rather high price of products. Now, one might argue that the quality of the products makes this price endurable and that can be true.

VAT refund Travelers wifi Switzerland

But everyone loves to save money; certainly, no one wants to leave money on the table if they don’t have to! In Switzerland, like most countries, when you buy clothes or electronics or jewelry you are going to pay a tax on those items. But, did you know in Switzerland that you can claim those taxes back as a refund when you leave the country?

What is VAT?

VAT stands for Value Added Tax. Currently, you pay 7.7% on most purchases, such as jewelry, cars, clothing, alcohol and some other goods and services. It is reduced on everyday items like books and non-alcoholic drinks, but for this article, we will focus on higher cost products where you get hit by the 7.7%.

As a non-resident of Switzerland (and over the age of 18) you are entitled to claim a refund on the VAT from purchases over 300 Swiss Francs (including the VAT).

Pro Tip: You don’t have to buy one item for 300 CHF, you just need to spend at least this amount (including the VAT) at one shop, on one visit. In other words, you need one receipt showing you paid at least 300 CHF total. These goods must also be exported from Switzerland within 30 days of purchase.

VAT refund Travelers wifi

The first thing to remember when shopping is to ask for a tax-free form from the store at the time of purchase. If you are lucky, a store may offer to handle the VAT refund for you (look for a Tax-Free sticker on the store window). Higher end stores may also offer this service. You’ll need to bring your passport with you when shopping as you’ll need it when filling out the forms. Some stores will ship your purchase directly to your home outside Switzerland and will not charge you the VAT in the first place as well – very convenient.

If you decide to keep the purchase with you and leave the country with it (as the store doesn’t offer VAT services or shipping is too expensive) you have 3 ways of claiming your VAT refund, depending on how/where you leave Switzerland: plane, train or automobile. The first option, at the airport, is by far the easiest option to get your VAT refund and we’ll start there.

At airports

Be sure to arrive at the airport extra early for your flight so that you have time to claim your VAT refund. You’ll want to confirm the location of the custom’s desk at the airport you are traveling from to make it easier to find. The custom’s office will want to see your purchased goods before stamping your forms so be sure not to check them with your luggage at this point!

Once the customs office has stamped your forms you can then go and collect your VAT refund. This is typically done at private companies like Global Blue, which is popular in world-wide. Your VAT refund is usually given in cash (Swiss Francs) or they can refund your credit card (but this can take some time) or they mail it to you (also taking quite some time).

VAT refund Travelers wifi Global blue

At car border crossings

Now things get a little trickier. At-large border crossings, it won’t be too much of an issue finding a customs office. But be sure they are manned and are open at the time and place where you want to cross the border. After stopping at the customs office and getting your forms stamped, you’ll then need to locate a VAT refund office nearby like Global Blue (or other) if you aren’t eventually flying out at an airport. You may want to organize your trip around these office locations and opening times!

At train border crossings

Similar to highway border crossings, crossing the border via train can make collecting your VAT tricky. You’ll need to find out which border town you will be traveling through and if that train station has a customs office. If it doesn’t are you willing to travel via another town (which may make the trip longer). If the border town you travel through does have a customs office, is it open when you will be there (and do you have time to get off the train, go to the office and then catch another train later that day)?

VAT refund Travelers wifi Train

In the end, if you are planning on making expensive purchases and want to claim your VAT refund, I would highly recommend that you exit Switzerland on a plane so you can take advantage of the customs offices and VAT refund office at the airport.

If traveling by car or train be sure to read through our list below of customs offices and Global Blue locations to make your departure from Switzerland easier and financially rewarding!

Border crossings in Switzerland

City Zip Address Manned or unmanned Stamps available Opening Hours
Phone
Email
Arnières 1247 Rte de Thonon 357 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 43 25 centrale.thonex[email protected]
La Croix de Rozon 1257 Chemin des Eplinglis 20 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 467 12 56 [email protected]
Bargen 8233 Hoftalstrasse 21 Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 08:00-20:00
Sa: 08:00 – 20:00
Su: closed
+41 58 480 90 00 [email protected]
Basel 4056 Elsässerstrasse 265 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 78 88 [email protected]
Novazzano 6883 no info Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 469 08 48 [email protected]
Brusino 6827 Via al Confine 1 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 469 07 66 [email protected]
Rüthi 9464 no info Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Basel 4055 Burgfelderstrasse 301 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 61 383 01 46 [email protected]
Borgnone 6659 Dogana 18 Manned Yes Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
Period from 01.09 to 14.06: 05:00- 01:00
+41 58 481 80 31 [email protected]
Campocologno 7744 Via Principale 1 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 80 60 [email protected]
Castasegna 7608 Via Principale Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 12:00-20.00:00
Sa: closed
Su: closed
Public holidays: Closed
+41 58 480 12 30 [email protected]
Chavannes-de-Bogis 1279 Route de Divonne Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 93 42 [email protected]
Chiasso 6830 Corso San Gottardo 1 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 483 43 33 [email protected]
Diepoldsau 9444 Hohenemserstrasse 69 Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 08:00-17:00
Sa: 10:00-18:00
Su: closed
+41 58 480 72 00 [email protected]
Diessenhofen 8253 Schwaderloch 1 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Ranzo 6577 Via Cantonale Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 80 31 [email protected]
Gailingen am Hochrain 78262 Büsinger Strasse 17 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Fahy 2916 Poste de douane Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 18 [email protected]
Le Grand-Saconnex 1218 Case Postale 214 Manned Yes Mo-Su: 06:00-20:00
Outside of those times, notification via the system: declaration box.
+41 58 481 92 90 [email protected]
Fornasette 6996 Via Cantonale Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 467 11 30 [email protected]
Basel 4057 Freiburgerstrasse 79 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 469 38 55 [email protected]
Gandria 6978 Via Cantonale Manned Yes Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 467 15 51 [email protected]
Cointrin 1216 Avenue Louis-Casaï 86 Manned Yes Daily: 05:30-24:00 +41 58 466 74 00 no info
Gondo 3907 Simplonstrasse Manned Yes Mo-Sa: 09:00-22:00
Su: Closed
Outside of those times, notification via the system: declaration box.
+41 58 467 80 51 [email protected]
Orsières 1937 Poste cgfr Bas-Valais, Route de la Vallée 41 Manned Yes Mo-Su: 10:00-22:00
Outside of those times, notification via the system: declaration box.
+41 58 466 61 90 [email protected]
Hofen 8242 Hauptstrasse 20 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Gambarogno 6571 no info Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 80 31 [email protected]
Riehen 4125 Inzlingerstrasse 333 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 469 64 70 [email protected]
Jestetten DE79798 Bahnhofstrasse 27 no info no info no info +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Kaiserstuhl AG 5466 Rheingasse 7 no info no info no info +41 44 858 22 14 [email protected]
Koblenz 5322 Zollplatz 1 Manned Yes Mo-Sa: 05:00-22:00
Su: 10:00-18:00
+41 58 480 57 87 [email protected]
Basel 4056 Hüningerstrasse 166 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 61 386 91 65 [email protected]
Konstanz 78462 Bahnhofplatz 49 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Kreuzlingen 8280 Hauptstrasse 2 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Kreuzlingen 8280 Autobahn A7 Postfach 1021 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 00 [email protected]
Kreuzlingen 8280 Konstanzerstrasse 2 Postfach 1021 Manned Yes Mo-Su: 12:00-20:00
Su: Closed
Outside of those times, notification via the system: declaration box.
+41 58 480 90 00 [email protected]
Kriessern 9451 Zollstrasse 31 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Sainte-Croix VD 1454 Grande Borne 1 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 24 454 52 10 [email protected]
Chavannes-de-Bogis 1279 Route de Divonne 7 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 93 42 [email protected]
La Cure 1265 Route de France no info no info Nothing +41 58 469 90 10 [email protected]
Zernez 7530 La Drossa Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 09:00-17:00
Sa-Su: Closed
+41 58 469 07 36 [email protected]
Poschiavo 7742 Passo del Bernina 966 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
Forcola di Livigno opening hours. (Winter closure).
+41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Laufenburg 5080 Flösserstrasse 2 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 50 80 [email protected]
Orsières 1937 Poste cgfr Bas-Valais, Route de la Vallée 41 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 469 91 20 [email protected]
Ligornetto 6853 Via Cantinetta 25 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 469 08 48 [email protected]
Basel 4056 Elsässerstrasse 265 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 78 88 [email protected]
Magadino 6573 no info no info no info no info +41 58 481 80 31 [email protected]
Martina 7560 Hauptstrasse 243 Manned Yes Mo-Su: 08:00-20:00 +41 58 480 10 40 [email protected]
Mauren FL-9493 Binzastrasse Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Melide 6815 Lungolago Motta 27 no info no info no info +41 58 469 07 66 [email protected]
Thônex 1226 Rue de Genève 141 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 43 25 [email protected]
Montlingen 9462 Rheinstrasse no info no info no info +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
St-Gingolph 1898 Poste garde-frontière Chablais Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 24 477 11 31 [email protected]
Müstair 7537 Hauptstrasse 1A Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 09:00-17:00
Sa-Su: Closed
+41 58 469 07 32 [email protected]
Neuhausen am Rheinfall 8212 Zollstrasse 198 Manned Yes Mo-Fr: private goods
07:00-20:00
Sa: 12:00-20:00
Sundays and public holidays: closed. Outside of clearance times: declaration box
+41 58 480 90 00 [email protected]
Novazzano 6883 no info Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
This road is closed for cars and motorcycles from 1st of april until 30th of september, 23:00 to 05:00. Bicycles and pedestrians can use the road 24/7.
+41 58 469 08 48 [email protected]
Oberriet SG 9463 Rheinstrasse 19 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Pedrinate 6832 Via Tinelle Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
This road is closed for cars and motorcycles from 1st of april until 30th of september, 23:00 to 05:00. Bicycles and pedestrians can use the road 24/7.
+41 58 469 07 66 [email protected]
Perly 1258 Rte de St-Julien 307 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 467 12 56 [email protected]
Vacallo 6833 no info Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 06:00-21:00
Sa: 06:00-22:00
Su: 07:00-21:00
The Saturday times apply also for the day before a public holiday. The Sunday times apply also for public holidays in Italy.
+41 58 469 07 66 [email protected]
Ponte Cremenaga 6996 no info Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
This road is closed for cars and motorcycles from 1st of april until 30th of september, 23:00 to 05:00. Bicycles and pedestrians can use the road 24/7.
+41 58 467 11 30 [email protected]
Novazzano 6883 no info Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 469 07 66 [email protected]
Ponte Tresa 6988 no info Manned Yes Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
Mo-Su: 19:30-04:30, clearance of private goods with the declaration box system.
+41 58 465 53 18 [email protected]
Ramsen 8262 Moskau 309 Manned Yes Mo-Fr: private goods
07:00-20:00
Sa: 12:00-20:00
Swiss and public holidays: closed. Outside of clearance times: declaration box
+41 58 480 90 00 [email protected]
Rheinau 8462 Zollstrasse 18 no info no info no info +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Rheineck 9424 no info Unmanned No Mo-Sa: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Rheinfelden 4310 no info no info no info Closed, no clearance times. Entry is possible only on foot, by bicycle or with public transport (motor vehicles are banned from driving on the Rhine bridge). +41 58 469 37 60 [email protected]
Romanshorn 8590 Friedrichshafnerstrasse Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Ruggell FL-9491 Noflerstrasse 67 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
San Pietro di Stabio 6854 no info no info no info no info +41 58 469 08 48 [email protected]
Schaanwald FL-9486 Vorarlbergerstrasse 233 Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 07:30-17:30
Sa: 10:00-18:00
Su: Closed
+41 58 469 00 86 [email protected]
Schellenberg FL-9488 St. Georgstrasse 91 no info no info no info +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Diepoldsau 9444 Rheinstrasse 63 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Splügen 7435 Splügenpasstrasse 4 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
St. Margrethen SG 9430 Grenzstrasse 33 Manned Yes Mo-Fr: 07:30-16:00
Sa-Su: Closed
+41 58 480 21 00 [email protected]
St. Margrethen SG 9430 Bahnhof no info no info no info +41 58 480 21 00 [email protected]
Stabio 6855 no info Manned Yes Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
Mo-Su: 19:30-04:30, clearance of private goods with the declaration box system.
+41 58 483 22 40 [email protected]
Stein am Rhein 8260 Öhningerstrasse 77 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Stein AG 4332 Postfach 62 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 481 03 21 [email protected]
Tägerwilen 8274 Konstanzerstrasse 121 no info no info no info +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Thayngen 8240 Zollstrasse 97 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 00 [email protected]
Thayngen 8240 Bahnhofstrasse 35 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Thônex 1226 Rte Blanche 24 Case Postale Manned Yes Mo-Su: 06:00-20:00
Outside of those times, notification via the system: declaration box.
+41 58 480 43 25 [email protected]
Sta. Maria Val Müstair 7536 Via d’Umbrail 135 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00
During Umbrail Pass opening hours (winter closure).
+41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Wasterkingen 8195 Badener Landstr. 174 no info no info no info +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]
Riehen 4125 Weilstrasse 87 no info no info Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 467 11 71 [email protected]
Widnau 9443 Rheinstrasse 85 Unmanned No Mo-Su: 00:00-24:00 +41 58 480 90 14 [email protected]
Wil ZH 8196 Bergstrasse 125 no info no info no info +41 58 463 90 12 [email protected]

Global Blue Offices

Locations Address Opening hours
Balerna (BP Breggia) Via S. Gottardo, 56, 6828 Balerna MON-FRI: 06:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
SAT: 06:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
SUN: 07:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
Basel (Travelex Switzerland) Schwarzwaldallee 200, Badischer Bahnhof, 4058 Basel MON-FRI: 06:30 a.m. – 08:30 p.m.
SAT: 06:30 a.m. – 08:30 p.m.
SUN: 09:00 a.m. – 05:00 p.m.
Brissago (Ecsa Aniceto Brissago) Via Leoncavallo 52, 6614 Brissago MON-FRI: 06:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.
SAT: 07:00 a.m – 08:00 p.m
SUN: 07:00 a.m – 08:00 p.m
Cadenazzo (BP Cadenazzo) Via San Gottardo, 69, 6593 Cadenazzo MON-FRI: 06:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
SAT: 06:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
SUN: 08:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
Chiasso (We Change) Via Soldini 38, 5, 6830 Chiasso MON-FRI: 09:00 a.m. – 5.30 p.m.
SAT & SUN: closed
Coldrerio (Ecsa Pit Stop) Stazione di Servizio, Coldrerio Sud-Nord MON-SUN: 24hr/day
Gandria (Ecsa Gandria) Via Cantonale, 69, 6978 Gandria MON-FRI: 06:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.
SAT: 07:30 a.m – 07:00 p.m
SUN: 09:00 a.m – 07:00 p.m
Geneva Airport (Global Exchange Suisee Sarl) Route de l’Aéroport 21, Case Postale 364, Genève 15 MON-SUN 06:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Interlaken (BLS AG) Tourist Office, Interlaken West , Bahnhofstrasse 28, Interlaken 3800 MON-SUN: 06:40 a.m. – 07:00 p.m.
Lugano Airport Communicazione e Servizi Turistici S.a.g.l.Tourist Office, Agno Airport, 6982 Agno Airport MON-FRI: 10:00 a.m. – 02:00 p.m. and 04:00 p.m. – 07:00 p.m.
SAT & SUN: 10:00 a.m. – 02:00 p.m. and 04:00 p.m. – 07:00 p.m.
Lugano Downtown (BP Lugano Sud/South) Via A.Riva, 6, 6900 Lugano (CH) MON-SAT: 06:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
SUN: 08:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
Melide (BP Atlante) Via Cantonale, 15, 6815 Melide MON-SAT: 06:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
SUN: 08:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
Mendrisio (Esca Mendrisio) Via Francesco Borromini, 66850, Mendrisio MON-SAT: 06:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
SUN: 08:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m.
Novazzano (BP Novazzano) Via Casate, 12, 6883 Novazzano MON-FRI: 06:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.
SAT: 07:00 a.m. – 07:00 p.m.
SUN: closed
Ponte Tresa (Esca Pit Stop) Stazione di Servizio, Via Cantonale, 6988 Ponte Tresa MON-FRI: 06:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.
SAT: 06:00 a.m. – 07:00 p.m.
SUN: closed
Stabio (Esca Gaggiolo) Via Gaggiolo, 57, 6855 Stabio MON-SAT: 06:00 a.m – 08:00 p.m
SUN: 08:00 a.m – 08:00 p.m
St. Moritz (Gilsenti Travel) Travel Agency , Gallaria Caspar Badrutt, St.Moritz 7500 MON-FRI: 08:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. 02:00 p.m. – 06:30 p.m.
SAT: 08:30 a.m.-12:00 a.m.* (except mid-May to end June & November)
SUN: closed
Zurich Airport (Global Blue Schweiz) Refund Counter Airside Center, next to transfer desks Transfer A, 8058 Zurich Airport (After security control; access only with valid boarding pass!) MON-SUN: 06:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
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