Thai government levy 7% Value Added Tax (VAT), on goods and services. It is possible to get your tax refund for some goods, with following criteria:
– shop at stores displaying ‘VAT Refund for Tourists‘ sign;
– spend at least 2,000 baht in the same store, on the same day;
– take the goods out of Thailand, within 60 days of purchase date, via international airport.
(Note: There are 8 international airports in Thailand: Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, U-Tapao, Krabi and Samui).
And really, the process is as simple as ABC, if you know how. It’s not rocket science, you just need to know the procedures and prepare in advance. The airport staff are pretty easygoing (and lax). Just ask (with a smile) if you are unsure, they are more receptive to a polite attitude.
There is a 100 baht administrative fee imposed. If your purchased goods are around 2,000 baht, then don’t bother. You will probably walk away with a miserable 30-40 baht.
I have just claimed my VAT Refund at Don Mueang International Airport, which I’ll go through in details.
3 simple steps:
Step 1: At shop – paperwork
Step 2: At airport – show and validate
Step 3: At airport – claim
STEP 1: AT SHOP – paperwork
Most shops will automatically do the necessary paperworks (P.P.10 form and original tax invoice aka receipt) for you.
All is required is your passport, and shopkeepers will fill in the P.P.10 form. I was asked to fill my name, nationality, passport number and sign on the form.
STEP 2: AT AIRPORT – show and validate
I always see visitors being rejected at this stage, despite having the P.P. 10 forms and original tax invoices.
The common problem seemed to be purchased goods were not shown together with form. Typically, visitors check-in their luggage before they approach tax refund, as though it’s an afterthought.
There was once that I managed to help some of the visitors. But of course, I spoke to the officers in Thai, and explained the predicament.
The officers were kind enough to validate / stamp on the form. They explained that if the value is not substantial, then mai pen rai (no problem), they will still process it.
I mean, this is of course not playing by the book … and perhaps they are not supposed to bend the rule. So, you’ll not see this stated anywhere officially. And if you can’t speak the language, and on top of that, if you frown or raise your voice, it’s a ‘gone case.’ This is Thailand, the Land of Smile. Culturally, Thai people tend to avoid confrontation. So, ask or gesture (if you can’t speak Thai) with a big smile, and they will be more inclined to help you.
And if you are desperate, you can still show them the form, together with some ‘random’ goods. Not that they will match the form with the products to the T . But, you shouldn’t show a watch, when jeans was indicated in the form, for example. Now, please don’t quote me.
I kept the price tag of my purchased good, just in case, but it went unchecked. The officer stamped on my form in a jiffy, barely glanced at my passport and purchased good.
Spotted a list of denial code, so please take note and don’t contribute to the statistics.
At Don Mueang International airport, the Customs Inspection is located near to Gate One (close to Air Asia check-in counters) at departure floor, 3rd floor.
STEP 3: AT AIRPORT – claim
Just show the validated P.P.10 form and all original tax invoices, and your passport, at VAT Refund office, after passport control and security check point. You no longer need to show your purchased goods, unless if it falls under luxury goods category, such as jewelry, gold ornaments, watches, glasses and pens with value of 10,000 baht or more per item.
I got my refund in cash. You will need to pay additional for postage, and transaction fee for bank draft and credit card refund. So, go cash.
See, I told you it’s as easy as ABC. Altogether from step 1 to step 3, not even 5 minutes of my time. The tax refund of 150 baht is enough to cover my taxi fare from home to airport. So, why not?
Update April 2017:
Just did my second purchase at Siam Discovery which qualifies for VAT Refund. I was cautioned by staff to not to use credit card in another person’s name. This means the credit card name must matches the passport’s holder name. It was an unplanned purchase; I didn’t carry my passport with me. Staff said so long I remember my passport number, that is alright.
Update June 2017:
I went through the tax refund process at Don Mueang International Airport on a busy Saturday morning … The officer only requested for my passport; did not show the purchased goods at all! 670 baht refund for a no-stress procedure. Two thumbs up! Check out the tax refund table here.