How to do VAT reclaim in Portugal

VAT Reclaim in Portugal

The VAT reclaim procedure at Lisbon airport is a little confusing, so with this post, I hope to help people get back some of their VAT payments. For those readers who are unaware of the VAT reclaim option, several EU countries let you reclaim VAT that you have paid on your shopping if you are not a resident of an EU country. In such cases, you must request a VAT reclaim invoice when buying your products and then when you finally leave the European Union, you can claim your VAT back.

The simplest way to get a VAT refund is to have your purchased items with you in your hand baggage. I could not do this since my items were heavy and had to be checked in. The procedure for checked in items differs quite a bit and is more complicated.

The key considerations are that you should be a non-EU resident, and you should be taking your purchased products with you outside the EU within 90 days of purchase.

I would highly recommend that if you want to do a VAT reclaim, carry your items in your hand luggage. The process is faster and simpler!

I will describe below the procedure for both cases since sometimes it is difficult to carry bulky items in your hand luggage.

SCENARIO #1 – Your items are in your checked in luggage:

You should process your VAT refund, including getting the stamp from customs, in the country you are in right before you leave the EU.

Here are some examples to help you out:

If you are flying:

Lisbon -> London (just a transit, bags are checked through) -> New Delhi – Do it in Lisbon

Lisbon -> Zurich (bags are checked through) -> New Delhi – Do it in Lisbon

Lisbon -> Zurich (two night stay, bags are not checked through) -> New Delhi – Do it in Zurich

Basically, do it at the last point in the EU that you have your bags with you.

In Lisbon, there is a long queue for customs inspection depending on the time of day. It would be advisable to arrive at the airport with an extra hour or two.

If your items are in your checked-in luggage, you will need to go to a separate customs inspection area to check your baggage in after a customs agent inspects your luggage. First, go to your airline’s counter and ask for your boarding pass. Mention that you would like to get a customs stamp for your checked in luggage and therefore will check in your bag after the inspection. Your airline will give you a baggage tag and your boarding pass. With this, you have to go to the customs inspection area for VAT reclaim, ask the check-in agent for directions.

Over here, a customs agent will look at your receipts and may ask to inspect your baggage to verify that the products are indeed being exported by you outside the EU. Once the inspection is complete, the agent will stamp your VAT receipt and your bags will be tagged and checked in at the same time. The queues for this counter can be very long. It can take between one or two hours to get through this queue depending on how busy the airport is at the time (mornings are very bad). It’s definitely much easier if you have your items with you in your hand baggage!

However, once you’ve made it and your VAT receipt is stamped, you can process your VAT refund after you go through security.

I had been (incorrectly) advised that I must process my refund in the UK since that is my last port of call inside the EU. However, since I was simply transiting at the airport in London, I never really entered the UK, so I should have processed my refund in Portugal, right after I had my bag inspected, got my receipt stamped, and went through security.

I still managed to get my refund because the VAT agent at Heathrow airport gave me a postage paid envelope that I could mail out from there to Slovenia with my VAT refund form. I had to fill out my credit card number on the receipt and I received the refund to my credit card in about 40 days. If you don’t manage to get your refund after security in Portugal (perhaps you ran out of time?) and are transiting through another EU country, you may ask for pre-paid envelopes to send in your claim at any VAT refund or Global Blue booth!

How to do VAT reclaim in Lisbon

How to do VAT reclaim in Lisbon


SCENARIO #2 – Your purchases are in your hand baggage:

This is fairly easy. You must get your receipt stamped by customs. You can do this after security screening and there is never a big queue here. Since your items are with you, you can show them if requested. After this, you can ask them to accept your refund request right there. Your refund should show up on your credit card in a few weeks. In some cases you may also request a cash refund and you will be paid in euros on the spot.

I hope it’s clear that if possible, always carry your purchases in your hand baggage. The process is much easier and you will not need to arrive at the airport 3 hours in advance.

Global Blue at Lisbon's airport

Global Blue at Lisbon's airport

Millions of tourists purchase items in the EU every year and leave behind the excess taxes they’ve paid. VAT in Portugal is 23% (and averages about 20% in most EU countries) and you get back about 15-18%. That’s quite a big part of your purchase!

Don’t leave your hard earned money behind… do a VAT reclaim!


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  • Iris Says

    in order to get a VAT refund, do you have to receive the VAT tax refund form from the store in which you made your purchase? Or can you just present a receipt?

    • Ashray Says

      You need to get the VAT refund receipt from the store that you make your purchase at. It’s a different kind of receipt and looks different from a regular receipt.

  • Amer Affandy Says

    I will be flying to Marrakech via Barcelona (transit for 5 hours). Can I get the receipt stamped by custom at Lisbon airport and VAT claim there? Or I need to do both custom stamped and claim at Barcelona Airport?

  • Emre Says

    I just bought a turntable from Lisbon which costed 399 euro. (almost 75 euro is a VAT in this price)
    The store I bought did not have any agreement with Global Blue, Premier Tax or any other tax refund company like this. It was a special product and it was only in this store in Portugal. So I had to buy it from there without a refund form. I went to the airport, the first banquet did not stamp it before the security check. There was another banquet after the security check and they stamped my invoices. And they told me that you have to get your money back from the store. I don’t know anything about the process.
    Do you know the continuation of this story?
    What should I do?

  • Adel Says

    Hi , I visited Spain for 15 days then I went to Portugal , the queue was terrible and I lost my plane for the 400 € that I should receive:(
    This was terrible but after the security we didn’t find anyone to ask about where to put our receipts
    We found a tax free place we asked the man who were inside he said leave me the receipts here it’s ok !!
    We left all the receipts there and we are not sure if this is the right place
    Any idea about this? Can someone help?

  • Jag Says

    Important info: Zurich and whole switzerland is not in European Union.

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