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How to Get Your Sales Tax Refund in Rome

October 27, 2022

Want to know how to get your VAT tax refund in Rome?

tax refund signs in shop windowsLook for the tax refund signs and logos in shop windows

When you're shopping in Rome, if you're not a resident of the European Union and spend at least 154.94 Euros in one retail store on one day, you are eligible for a refund of part of the sales tax (called the VAT, or value added tax in Europe).

This page explains how to get your refund in a way that isn't time consuming!

Everything you need to know about getting your VAT refunds

Enjoying tax free shopping in Rome is simple once you know what to do, but many stores do not automatically explain the VAT refund process to eligible customers.

On this page we'll cover:

Some Rome visitors do not bother going through the process of claiming their VAT refund, but for me, I think it's your money so why not take the time to get it back!

What to do if you have problems claiming your tax refund

Please note that Romewise is an informational website. We are not related to the tax-refund companies who issue VAT refunds, nor do we have contacts at the Customs office in Rome.

If you have a problem receiving your refund, please contact the company that issues it.

You can tell which company it is by looking for the logo is on the form you filled out, for example, Global Blue or Premier.

Eligibility for a VAT Refund

There are two key components to the tax free shopping eligibility, whether you are resident in a non EU country and the 154.94 euro spending limit (per store). I use 155 euros as the limit as an easy reference!

How do you get your refund on purchases?

When we ran our B&B in Rome, I would often have people show up at our reception with a bag of shoes or clothes, or just a receipt, and ask 'how do I get my tax back on this?'

Sometimes the person did not spend 155 Euros in one store, or did not fill out a tax free form while in the store.

In either case, there is no way to get the tax back at this point, unless you try going back to the store the same day to request the VAT refund form. This is certainly worthwhile if you have spent enough money and will get a substantial amount back.

It is much better to know in advance what you need to get from the store to take advantage of the tax refund for tourists.

The official minimum amount you must spend to receive a VAT refund, according to the European Commission, is 175 Euros. However, each country can set a different amount as the minimum. As of 2022, that minimum is 154.94 € in Italy, but you should know it may be different in other EU countries.


Bottom line, to be eligible for tax free shopping in Italy, you need to:

  1. Be a non EU resident (not living inside the European Union)
  2. Spend 155 Euros in one store in one day. Please note this does not have to be spent on one item; as long as the total is 155 Euros or more in one shop in one day.
  3. Not wear or use the item before leaving the EU
  4. And you must fill out the VAT refund form in the shop where you make your purchase.

Am I able to get a VAT refund on my hotel stay or other purchases?

The tax free shopping agreement never applies to services you use while in the EU.

VAT is charged on services like hotel rooms/accommodation charges, dining out, entry to museums or tour guides but you cannot get this back as you use all these services while inside the EU.

Wondering where the best places to shop in Rome are?

I have a shopping guide to get you started, but some of the bigger malls and shopping areas are outside of the city center, including the Castel Romano Designer Outlet Village and Maximo Shopping Center.

You can also arrange for personal shopping experiences where the shopping is tailored to you!

How to get your tax refund in Rome while shopping

Before you buy something in Rome, check if the shop participates in a tax-refund program. There is usually a sticker or sign posted in the shop window, or by the cash register, but sometimes it's not obvious. Just ask.

You can be sure every major design label (Valentino, Prada, Gucci, etc.) participates.

As long as you spend 155€ or more in one shop in one day, in a store that offers tax refunds in Rome, you will be able to fill out the form. This is the first necessary step to getting your money back. It doesn't take long so just do it!

If possible, take a picture of the tax free form for your records.

Some of the forms have duplicates and you get to keep one, but not always.

Can I Get the Tax Back in Any Shop in Rome?

Not all shops participate in the tax free shopping program.

It is up to the store manager/owner to sign up for it. Most of the shops in the center do participate, because it attracts foreign tourists.

If you buy something in a shop that is not part of the VAT refunds scheme then you will not be able to get the tax back on what you purchase there.

There are three major companies that offer VAT refunds in Rome; Global Blue, Premier and Tax Refund.

Some shops offer a choice of which company to use - in this situation there may be different percentages of tax refund back, so do ask.

global blue tax refund logo
premier-tax-refund-logo
tax-refund-for-tourists-logo

The one with the most airport locations in Europe is Global Blue. If you have to get your refund in another EU airport, you will likely find Global Blue just about everywhere, while the other two are not always available.

Don't worry though, you can still get the tax back - keep reading to find out how!

Do I have to carry my passport with me when I shop?

passport image

NO. Do NOT do this.

If you get pick-pocketed or otherwise lose your passport, it’s a big headache. Leave your passport in your hotel room.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from loss or damage is to ensure you have travel insurance for your trip.

Check out options and pricing here - don't leave home without it!

However, a lot of the VAT refund system is now digital, so it is a requirement to show stores your passport or a copy when filling out the tax free form.

So for the purposes of getting your tax refund, you should carry a photocopy of your passport. I have mine scanned and available on my phone which is the easiest option.

If you do not have your passport or a copy in the store to fill out your tax free form, the store can (and often will) refuse to complete the VAT refunds process.

What do I need to do at Customs in the airport?

Important Information!

If your sales invoice/receipt was issued in Italy, and by one of the three big companies noted above, then you do NOT need to go to the Customs office at the Rome Fiumicino airport at all, but rather go directly to the tax refund counter after checking in for your flight. 

You MAY want to visit the tax refund counter before you check in for your flight, just IN CASE they ask you to go get the Customs Stamp (better to be cautious). In that case you would need your luggage with you.

If the invoice was issued in any other country, or by another tax-free company, then continue with the procedure below for getting the Customs stamp and eventual refund:

The below will tell you the different procedures for dealing with your tax refund form, and whether or not you have to get a Customs stamp.

I'm flying out of Rome to my home country, and checking the items in my luggage. What do I do?

This is my favorite scenario for getting a VAT refund because it's the easiest way to get your tax back.

I always put my tax free shopping in my checked luggage, especially perfumes or clothing. Then I can get everything done in one place - you still need to get your luggage checked.

Go to the airline check-in counter FIRST before you do anything else.

delta check in counter FCOCheck in first and get your boarding pass. This is the first step to getting the tax refund at Fiumicino airport.

While you are checking in, let the agent know that you have tax free shopping items in one (or more) of your pieces of luggage. If you have luggage to check that doesn't contain any tax free items, the agent can take it for you then and check it as normal.

For the piece of luggage where the items are, they will make a luggage tag for you but keep it at the desk. They won't yet check that particular piece of luggage because you have to take it with you to the tax free refund desk/Customs.

have an italian sales receipt and a tax free form issued by global blue, premier or tax refund?

If your goods were purchased in Italy, and your tax free form is from one of the three companies above such as Global Blue, then you will simply go to the VAT refund counter after checking in.

Bring the luggage that contains the items with you, on the very small chance they will ask you to get a Customs stamp.

Present your boarding pass and tax free form along with the sales receipt so they can process the refund.

This will either be a refund in cash or credit card.

You can then return to the check in desks for your airline, where they will complete the check in and take the luggage with the tax free items inside.

have a non-italian sales receipt and/or a tax free form issued by a different company?

If you made your purchases in a different EU country and/or your tax free form is not from one of the three big companies, there is an extra step to follow.

customs fiumicino airportCustoms booth at Fiumicino airport in Rome

After you have checked in and have your boarding pass, proceed to Customs.

There are Customs offices located in the Departures Areas of Terminals T1 and T3 at Fiumicino airport, both easily accessible whether you are arriving by coach, the fast train or private transfer.

In Terminal 3, it's a room at the back of all the check-in counters, but quite easy to find. In Terminal 1, it's just a little booth, but it's right in the middle of all the check-in counters.

You have to show the Customs official your passportyour boarding pass, the VAT refund form and the sales receipt.

documents needed to claim tax free shoppingHere is the Global Blue envelope I received from the shop where I made my purchase, Rinascente; the sales receipt for the purchase; the electronic form they filled out for me at Rinascente; and my passport.

At the Customs counter, the agent will ask you if the items you purchased are in the luggage that is with you. They hardly ever look at it, but they might. Be prepared for this.

If you don't have the item(s) in the luggage, or have worn/used it, they will not give you the stamp.

Once all is in order (and really this is almost always very speedy), the Customs official will stamp the tax free form. Now you can get your money back!

First head back to the check-in counter where the agent has kept your luggage tag. You should not have to wait in line. The agent will remember you, take your luggage, put the tag on it, and check it.

You can sometimes check the luggage directly at Customs. In this case, the airline agent checking you in will know the drill, and give you the luggage tag when you check in for your flight.

I'm flying out of Rome to my home country, and carrying the items on the plane with me. What do I do?

If you decide to carry tax free items with you in hand luggage, you will still have to show it to a Customs agent, but this time it will be inside the terminal.

So you first check in as above. Check any hold luggage normally, get your boarding pass and go through security.

Once you are in the international terminal, find the Customs counter. Show the Customs agent your boarding pass, passport, VAT refund form, and the item(s) in question. When you carry it on the plane with you, they always look at it (as opposed to when you put it in checked luggage, where they almost never check.) You must make sure the item has not been used/worn.

The cash refund offices are right next to this counter. So once you get your stamp, you can just scoot over to the right counter and get your money back.

I am flying out of Rome but to another EU country before flying home. How does that work?

If you are flying out of Fiumicino airport, but not yet leaving the EU, you will follow one of these two procedures to get your stamp:

  1. If you put the item in your checked luggage, and check it all the way through, you still follow the procedure above and get the stamp.
  2. If you prefer to carry the item with you in carry-on, then you will have to find the Customs office in the last European airport before you fly home.

No matter what season you visit Rome, here are 4 things never to leave at home:

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All About Getting Your VAT Refund

REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT:

If you got your refund in Rome (downtown), then you MUST mail the Customs-stamped form in, no matter where you get it stamped.

If you mail the forms in their envelopes, from any European airport, it's free. If you get the form stamped but forget to mail it while in the airport, you can mail it from outside the EU but you will need to pay postage.

If you got the refund in Rome, and do NOT get the Customs stamp on the form and mail it in, the company that gave you the refund will charge your credit card back for the money they gave you, plus a penalty.

The following are all the ways to actually collect your refund in cash or credit card:

Should I get my VAT refund in Rome or at the airport?

I once went through the procedure of getting my refund in Rome but, other than that one time, I always get my tax back at the airport.

I don’t recommend doing your tax refund when in Rome - why waste your precious time doing this?

If you feel like getting the tax refund in the city, it’s not that complicated. The offices are centrally located. You just have to find the correct office.

But you should know this does not save you much time at the airport at all because no matter where you get your VAT refund, you still must go through Customs and get the forms stamped when you leave the EU.

What's the procedure for getting my refund in Rome?

If you want to claim your refund in Rome, find the office belonging to the company on your tax free form. The form or envelope should have the addresses of the in-town locations.

  • For a list of Global Blue locations, click here.
  • For a list of Premier Tax Refund locations, click here.
  • For a list of Tax Refunds for Tourists locations in downtown Rome, click here.
tax refund office in romeOne of the tax refund offices in downtown Rome

Bring the tax free form, your passport, and a credit card. You will not be able to receive a refund if you do not bring these three items. You do not need to bring the items you purchased.

They will give you the VAT refund in cash or on your credit card, but it's provisional. They will also take an imprint of your credit card. You will still need to send in the tax free form, with the Customs stamp on it, once you have gotten this at your departure airport.

If you do not send in the form with the Customs stamp on it, the tax refund office will charge your credit card for the money they gave you, plus a fee.

What's the procedure for getting my refund at the airport?

Once you have followed the relevant procedures noted above when at the airport you have two options for getting your VAT refund for your tax free shopping:

  1. Mail the tax free form in the airport (free) or when you get home (you will need to pay for postage) for an automatic refund to the credit card you provided when completing the forms.
  2. Have the staff at the tax refund desks process a refund in person, either onto a credit card or in cash.

If you want cash back, you will have to do this at the last airport before departing the EU.

But here's the thing: it's not always possible to get cash at airports in European cities.

It also takes longer, so if you have a connection to get to or are short on time it's generally easier to have the refund issued to a credit card.

How much money will I get back?

The amount of the tax you pay on most goods in Italy is 22%.

However, you will not get that much back. You will get back anywhere from 11-15.5%, depending on how much you spent.

That's because there are administrative fees, some that the tax-refund company keeps, and some that the store owner can opt to keep.

Most of the time, you will get back about 11-13% of the tax you spend. But even on a minimum purchase of 155 Euros, this is around 20 Euros. Why leave this money on the table? You are entitled to get it back!

Can I get Dollars or do I have to get Euros?

When you get your VAT refund you can get it on your credit card or in cash, which dictates the currency.

If you get the refund on your credit card, know it can take 2-3 months before you see this on your statement.

The amount will be in Euros, converted to your own currency, so the final amount will depend on the exchange rate.

If you visit the website of the refund company, you can usually track your refund.

I have never once had the refund go astray. When I've chosen to (or been required to) get my refund on my credit card, it's always arrived, even 3 months later.

When I get my refund at the airport in Rome, I always get euros in cash. This is because the cash exchange rate from euro to dollar can be terrible, and I will use the euros.

If you don't think you will be coming back to Europe in the near future, and prefer the cash back in US Dollars, just know that if you get cash, the exchange rate is really bad. They have you over a barrel and you have no choice. This is why I get euros (or opt for the credit back on my card.)

Almost all the cash-refund offices charge a small administrative fee for giving cash back, especially in airports not in Rome.


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