Guide to Getting VAT Tax Refunds on Your Shopping in Seoul, South Korea

18 August, 2014

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On 18 August, 2014
Last modified:18 August, 2014

Summary:

Do note these conditions for tax refunds in South Korea (you can claim up to 10% VAT 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.

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.

global-blue-tax-free-seoul

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.

supermarket-big-c-vat-refund-tax-free

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.

seoul-shopping-tax-refund-global-blue-tax-free

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.

incheon-airport-tax-refund-customs-officer

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.

scan-receipt-self-tax-refund-airport

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.

tax-refund-gate-28-incheon-airport

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.

kt-tourist-reward-tax-refund-seoul-korea

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

Agent Location Opening Hours
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!

Zhiqiang & Tingyi

Comments (60)

  • HelenReply

    12 September, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Wow, thank you for such great advice and wonderful explanation. This is bar far the easiest and best explanation that is logical and good to read! I’m so glad you told me about this process. So many people should know about this.

    I want to confirm, for the purchases, do i have to make purchases using Credit card in order to claim tax refund? Can I pay in cash and get the receipt and still get refund? Does cash payment work for Seoul city claims?

    Thank you!

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      12 September, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Helen

      You do not have to make purchases with credit card to claim tax refund. You can pay in cash and request for the tax refund slips and receipts (if you spend more than 30,000 KRW at a shop where tax refund is available).

      Not sure what you meant by your last question but yes you can pay in cash and enjoy tax refunds if you are eligible.

  • SimonReply

    29 October, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Hi,

    I have already left Korea but forgot to claim for my tax refund at the airport. Can I still claim for my tax refund from overseas? If it is still possible to claim for my tax refund from overseas, how do I do so?

    Thanks.

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      29 October, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      Did you get a customs stamp on your refund forms? If no, then there is no way you can get tax refunds. If yes, you will have to check with Global Blue Tax Free – http://www.globalblue.com/ or Global Tax Free for tax refunds via mailing the refund forms (with customs stamp) to them.

  • SimonReply

    29 October, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    Thanks Zhiqiang & Tingyi for your response. No, unfortunately I did not get the stamp on my tax refund forms. So I guess it’s a lost cause for me. Thanks anyway.

  • Andronico SanchezReply

    11 December, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    were can i change my cheque here in Phillipines???

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      11 December, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      you can’t get VAT Tax Refunds in Philippines for your shopping in Korea

  • Andronico SanchezReply

    11 December, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I have the cheque from globalblue but i dont know were can i change my cheque here in phillipines

  • Christine HeReply

    29 December, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    hi, you mentioned that Global Blue accepts Mastercard credit card and that Orange Global Tax Free accepts Visa credit card. Does the global blue one accept visa too?

  • LesterReply

    2 January, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Hi there,

    May i know if you have any idea of what time the Custom Office, Global Blue Tax Free and Global Tax Free offices closes at the airport?

  • AngelaReply

    26 April, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    Hi, if i do tax refund in Myeong dong, does this means that I can skip step 1 in the airport and start from step 2?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      26 April, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Just to minimise confusion, step 1 according to this article is collect the blue/orange tax refund forms from the vendor – that still needs to be done. Step 2 (according to the article) is still required. You need not do Step 3 and 4 (according to the above article). Bottomline, you need to get your goods inspected by customs at the airport and submit your tax refund forms to them.

  • {Korea} Our 6 days itinerary to Seoul | IdelishReply

    23 May, 2015 at 2:24 am

    […] Tax Refunds – If you have some time on your hands before flying home and have spent at least ₩30,000 (about USD$30) from any stores that has the “Tax Free” logos,  you can claim the tax you paid back. There are various ways to claim your tax refunds (at the airport for example). A really good writeup I’ve found is by this blogger at Passportchop. […]

  • JoeyReply

    11 June, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Hi, I did a city refund but missed out on getting one of the receipts stamped at customs. Is it possible to get a friend who happens to be going to Korea to get the stamp on my behalf? The difference between my arrival date in Korea to my friend’s departure date from Korea is less than 2months.

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      11 June, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      you will need to call/email Global Blue or Global Tax Free to check on this. I think there is a time limit before they check whether the receipts had been customs-stamped – after which, they will charge your credit card.

  • TTReply

    9 August, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Hello, do you know if the tax free form must be issued on the same day as the receipt?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      10 August, 2015 at 10:40 am

      for our purchases, it is issued on the spot with the receipt. if you missed that, then you will have to check with the shop if they can reissue.

  • JTReply

    23 September, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Hi,

    Is it necessary to bring our credit card and submit the tax refunds receipt ?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      23 September, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      i assume you are referring to claiming tax refund at the airport and you have cleared the goods with customs. if thats the case, all you have to do is bring tax refund receipts to the tax refund counter and they will give you cash. no need for credit card.

  • LRReply

    24 September, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Hi , can I ask can I go to the tax refund counter first at incheon airport to do the custom chop first than proceed to airline check in ?

    Please emailed me .. Thanks 🙂

  • AskmoreReply

    19 October, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Just wondering, is there a tax back refund for surgical procedures donei in korea?

  • Kim YeowReply

    24 December, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Hi if i were to buy a iphone here would i be eligible for tourist tax refund on the fone? Thanks for your time 🙂

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      24 December, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      depends on whether the shop is part of the tax refund programme so ensure you buy from a reputable vendor and ask before you buy – whether they are part of the tax refund programme

  • fariesya sazihanReply

    25 December, 2015 at 1:47 am

    Hi.i just back from korea .I’ve already claimed the tax using the machine but on the last day I didn’t make it to the custom office because lack of time .do you know what will happen to my credit card?

  • fariesya sazihanReply

    25 December, 2015 at 2:42 am

    Hi . I just back from korea . I’ve already claimed the tax using the machine but on the last day I didn’t make it to the custom office because lack of time. What will happen to my credit card .is it going to charge for the whole price of my purchase or only the price of the tax ?
    Thank you

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      25 December, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      i think you will be charged for the price of the tax refund u received without the customs stamp

  • JennaReply

    12 March, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    Hi. Should the KRW30,000 worth of purchase be in ONE shop and in SINGLE transaction to be able to get tax refund? OR can the receipts be accumulated until you reach the minimum purchase? Say you purchased worth 10k today, and the next day 20k, can i ask for tax refund receipt at that store for those two separate transactions?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      19 March, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      No – only one shop in one transaction = at least 30k KRW

  • DavidReply

    17 May, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    A good write up. As j am the lazy type. If I was to get the form from the tax free shop and get it endorse in Myedong, I just need to gather the custom stamp in Incheon before put the receipt into the refund box right? (As I do not want to wait), somehow custom will deposit the refund to my credit card account right?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      21 May, 2016 at 3:59 pm

      yes

  • MarcelReply

    21 May, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Hi, this is a useful guide you wrote here. A question though: in South Korea stores, is the VAT usually included in the displayed price or is it added when you check out?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      28 May, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      it is included in the price.

  • monica nguyenReply

    6 June, 2016 at 11:36 am

    If I pay for my goods in cash, and then get my cash refund in Myeongdong, but forget to present my goods and slips at the airport, how will that affect me if I had bought everything in cash? Do they use my passport to charge me? Looking forward to your reply, thank you!!

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      9 June, 2016 at 7:03 am

      you will need to provide them with your credit card details when you claim your tax refund in Myeongdong. If you dont present your goods at the airport for inspection to get the customs stamp on your tax refund form, they will charge your credit card for whatever they have given you in cash tax refund in Myeongdong.

  • AlexReply

    25 June, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Hi there, thank you for your useful guide and answering all the questions in comments. I have another one, about credit card. In my country it’s not a common thing to use credit card. But most of us use debt cards – VISA, Mastercard etc.

    Can we get a tax refund presenting our debt card data?

  • jeanReply

    3 July, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Thank you so much for these information!:)
    I have a question! So I understood that the minimun purchase per shop is 30000krw and a receipt should be over that for me to claim tax refund. Is there a limit of how many over 30000krw receipts i claim? Say I have 5 reciepts with the amount over 3000krw. Can i claim them all from the refund desk? What is the limit?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      5 July, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      no limit to how much you can claim.

  • jamieReply

    8 July, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Can we get a tax refund presenting our debt card?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      18 July, 2016 at 10:50 am

      if it works the same way as a credit card, then should be fine. You might want to check with your bank if money could be credited into the card.

  • KimberleyReply

    17 July, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Hello there! Thank you very much for the informative write up. Was wondering if I were to purchase makeup across different brands in a department store (e.g shinsegae, lotte), will it be a single transaction such that the receipt is above 30000KRW?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      18 July, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Usually for big dept store, you go to a central counter to submit your receipts to get your tax refund forms

  • BecReply

    19 August, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Hi there,
    Thank you for all this information! If the minimum is KRW 30,000 on one receipt to get immediate refund – I read somewhere the maximum is KRW 200,000. Is that correct? If it’s over KRW 200,000 we can get the refund at the airport or refund booth?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      24 August, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      I am not sure abt the maximum. Sorry abt that

  • DianaReply

    11 September, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    Hi,
    So if you spend less than 30000 won at the stores, do you still need to deal with customs at the airport? Do you have to pay any sort of tax for spending less? Or have you already been charged with tax for not spending over 30000 won?

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      8 October, 2016 at 9:19 pm

      Everything you spend in South Korea in shops already have tax included regardless of how much you spend. If you spend more than 30k won, you can claim the tax you paid from the tax refund authorities.

  • accesReply

    2 November, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Thanks for compiling this list! I’ve been thinking about how to navigate my taxes and this was super helpful.

  • acceReply

    4 November, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Good information to know and right to the point. Thanks for this well written post, i’ll follow up for more updates if you keep posting them

  • Guide to Getting Tax Refund on Your Shopping in Tokyo, Japan – Singapore Travel BlogReply

    14 December, 2016 at 1:15 am

    […] stamp and then claiming your tax refund via tax refund agents like Global Blue – this is a typical sales tax refund for most countries like South Korea. Instead, in Japan, you can get cash refund directly and immediately from the tax refund counters […]

  • AnneReply

    21 December, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    I just had a Medical procedure done last week. They gave me the Global Tax refund form witch I brought with me to the airport. I scanned my passport and receipt at the machine but did’nt understand it. I went to the customer service Tax refund counter for help. Looking at my receipts they said, its all good, wait 2 weeks for refund! Did’nt know about stamps.
    I’m now back in the States and wondering! What’s your input and can I mail the receipt back? I have friends in Seoul!

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      21 December, 2016 at 9:17 pm

      do they mean you have to wait 2 weeks to get your money? Are they refunding to your credit card? You might want to contact Global Tax refund directly to find out more.

  • Anne StrandReply

    22 December, 2016 at 10:15 am

    I paid with a credit card so I assume the refund would go back on my card. But do you know if scanning passport and receipt on the machine would be enough to receive refund without stamp? Anne

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      22 December, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      if you scan the passport and receipt and they gave you a receipt or some document proof, then just wait for the refund to your credit card

  • David JamesReply

    25 December, 2016 at 3:31 am

    Is there an upper limit on getting tax back on a purchase. I want to buy a Fuji camera at around 2,100.000 won and accessories totalling 600,000. Will I get te full refund’

    Thanks for your help’

  • JOSAFATReply

    8 January, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    What should I do if I didn’t have enough time to do tax refund in Incheon airport, and now I brought along all the receipt to Indonesia? Do I still have a chance to get tax refund mailing all the receipt? Where? Please help. Thank you

    • Zhiqiang & TingyiReply

      8 January, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      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.

      You might want to email Global Blue or whichever is the tax free company your receipts belong to – to find out more what you can do

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