Guide to Getting VAT Tax Refunds on Your Shopping in Seoul, South Korea18 August, 2014
Shopping in Seoul, South Korea is not exactly cheap (except for skincare products from local Korean brands) but there is a way that you can get more bang for your bucks – claiming VAT tax refunds from your shopping in Korea. You can enjoy 10% tax refund when you spend more than 30,000 Korean won (KRW) (about 30 USD or 38 Singapore dollars) from any shop in South Korea with Tax Free logos – the more notable ones are Global Blue Tax Free and the Orange Global Tax Free logos. This applies anywhere in South Korea e.g. Seoul, Jeju and other parts of the country as long as the shop has the logos shown in the picture below. I will be sharing with you a guide to claiming tax refund not just via the traditional way of claiming tax refunds at airport but how you can also save a lot of time claiming tax refunds in Downtown Seoul while your shop.
Even when you buy Korean snacks e.g. Lotte cookies, Korean ramen from supermarkets like Big C, you can also claim for tax refund if you spend more than KRW 30,000 (Korean won). Simply proceed to the Information Counter for help on claiming tax refund.
You will not get paid your 10% VAT tax refund on the spot. You will have to ask the cashier for a tax refund slip – typically provided in a white and blue envelope (Global Blue Tax Free) or in a white and orange envelope (Global Tax Free). The tax refund slips and receipts are typically written in Korean but you can easily deduce how much tax refund you are eligible for. So Step 1 to claiming your 10% tax free is to get your tax refund slip.
Before you get too excited about tax refund claims – do note these conditions for tax refunds.
You must have spent at least 30,000 Korean won (inclusive of tax) at a shop participating as Global Blue or Orange Global Tax Free. Whatever you bought must have been purchased within 3 months of your departure from Korea.
You must be an foreign visitor who has been residing/visiting in Korea for less than six months or is an overseas Korean (holder of Korean passport and permanent resident) residing in/visiting Korea for less than 3 months or is a Korean student studying abroad for three years or more.
These persons are not eligible for tax refund claims: U.S. Armed Forces in Korea, diplomats in Korea, foreigners without passport, those who overstayed their visa, foreigners working in Korea.
Processing Tax Refund Claims in Incheon International Airport
The typical way to claim your tax refund is via the customs office at the airport. Your purchased goods will be subject to examination so don’t pack your purchased items in your check-in luggage yet. Look for the Tax Refund/Customs Declaration counter in the Incheon airport (if you are flying back to Singapore from Seoul). Typically there are quite long queues – ensure that you have filled up all particulars on the tax refund slip and that your purchased goods are easily accessible for inspection (if needed).
The aim is to get the coveted “All Goods Exported” stamp on your tax refund slip. We were lucky that we need not display our purchased goods – it will be very troublesome to show all the facial masks and skincare products for verification. I think the customs officers do random checks.
You can check-in to your airline first – just inform the check-in staff that you have tax refund items in one of your bags to be checked in. They will do what they usually do with checked-in luggages e.g. stick on the baggage claim labels and return the bag to you. You will need to bring this bag to the custom office to get your “All Goods Exported” stamp. Once you have gotten the custom stamp, deposit your bag at the oversized baggage counter next to the custom counter.
So to recap: Step 2 – get your “All Goods Exported” stamp at the customs office/counter at the airport.
There are airport staff around the customs office to assist you with your tax refund after you have gotten the stamp of approval from the customs officers. We had to scan our receipts using Tax Refund machines – not quite sure what this step is all about – just follow instructions from the staff. You will still not get your money here. Proceed to check-in your luggages and go to the secured airport area after clearing immigration.
At Incheon airport, the gate to take note of within the secured airport area is Gate 28. This is where the Global Blue Tax Free and Global Tax Free offices are located at. You will typically have tax refund slips from both companies if you do a lot of shopping in Seoul. Do note that Global Blue Tax Free office will not process your tax refund slips from Global Tax Free (the orange one) so if you have a mix of both tax refund slips – you will need to re-queue at the other office after you have completed with one. Do note that if you don’t have the “All Goods Exported” stamp on your tax refund slip, you can forget about claiming your tax refunds.
Claiming your tax refunds via the Global Blue Tax Free and the Orange Global Tax Free at Gate 28 is not the only way – some receipts are eligible for auto-tax refunds via Tax Refund machines in the airport – try to scan your receipts to see if your receipts are eligible. I think this is what the above Step 3 is about – to check the eligibility for such auto-tax refunds before you clear immigration.
Do note that the tax refund process at the Incheon airport can involve quite a lot of queuing so get to the airport early if you intend to do tax refund claims. For international flights by non-Korean carriers e.g. Singapore Airlines, you will still need to take the shuttle train to the other terminal to catch your flight so do budget some time to do these tax refunds if you plan to do so at Incheon Airport.
If you are leaving the country from an airport/port that does not have a tax refund counter or got your documents stamped but did not have the time to visit the tax refund counter or are traveling at a time when the counter(s) is closed, drop off your tax refund slips at the Refunds Box. The tax refunds will be sent directly to your credit card-linked bank account.
There is another way to settle your tax refunds even before going to the airport and skip all the queuing and waiting at the airport.
Processing Tax Refund Claims in Downtown Seoul e.g. Myeongdong
There are various locations in Seoul where you can get your tax refunds processed for Global Blue and Orange Global Tax Free tax refund slips (see table below).
You will need to present:
(1) All your receipts and tax refund slips;
(2) Your passport; and
(3) Your credit card. Your name in the passport must match that of the credit card.
You are not required to bring your purchased goods.
Your credit card will be charged with the same amount as the tax refund eligible to you as a guarantee. The payment will be cancelled once the stamped tax refund documents arrive at the respective tax refund agency within a certain period of time.
You will be refunded in cash. The staff will stamp “CASH PAID” at all receipts and return the receipts to you.
You will still need to present your receipts and tax refund slips and your purchased goods for customs inspection at the Incheon airport (see Step 2 above). The customs officers will stamp “ALL GOODS EXPORTED” on these receipts and will not return the tax refund slips to you. The customs office will send these stamped receipts/tax refund slips back to Global Blue or Orange Global Tax Free. You must complete this step and ensure that you don’t end up with the stamped tax refund slips (these slips should go direct to the tax refund office). If you miss this step, you will forfeit the guarantee charged to your credit card plus penalty fees (about 15%).
Do note that Global Blue accepts MasterCard credit card but Orange Global Tax Free does not accept MasterCard (VISA credit card is ok).
By claiming tax refund downtown in Seoul, you save time on queuing at the airport. You also get extra cash to spend with the tax refund! Do note that while you can process most of your tax refund slips downtown, there are still some tax refund slips that require you to claim directly at the airport e.g. handwritten tax refund slips.
More info here:
Global Blue Korea: +82-2-776-2170 / www.global-blue.com
Global Tax Free Korea: +82-2-518-0837 / www.global-taxfree.com
|Global Blue||Woori Bank, Myeongdong Branch (located across Myeongdong Theatre)||Mon-Fri: 09:00 – 17:00
Sat-Sun, Holidays: 10:00 – 17:00
|1F Lotte Department Store, Flagship Store, Myeongdong||Mon-Fri: 10:30 – 20:00
Sat- Sun, Holidays: 10:00 – 20:30
|10F Hyundai Department Store, Sinchon||Mon-Fri: 10:30 – 20:00
Sat- Sun, Holidays: 10:00 – 20:30
|Global Tax Free||2F Olive Young Flagship Store, Myeongdong (located next to Seoul Royal Hotel)||Mon-Fri: 10:00 – 22:00|
|Main Building 1F, Shinsegae Department Store, Myeongdong||Mon-Fri: 10:30 – 20:00
Sat-Sun, Holidays: 10:00 – 20:30
|B1 and 5F, Doota, Dongdaemun||Mon-Fri: 10:30 – 23:00|
Shopping online is one way you can avoid all these hassle of claiming tax refunds – for example with online fashion and beauty retailer Zalora – you can find watches online for women – right now there are over 99+ designs to choose from!