It’s not exactly the sexiest of programmes, but Thailand’s Tax Refund for Tourists scheme can add up to a significant chunk of change to take home after your holiday.
There is a lot of buy in Bangkok. Electronics rule the roost at Bangkok’s Mah Boon Krong Centre (MBK), but there are deals to be had on textiles, eye glasses, and luxury goods as well from MBK and surrounding shopping centres. Gold work is especially fine in Chinatown, and a high number of skilled jewellers turn out beautiful products at good prices in the kingdom. Thai fabrics and silks are a great deal in Bangkok, as are handicrafts from places such as Thai Craft Village in Amarin Shopping Centre.
The Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme allows travellers to reclaim the 7% value-added tax levied on all purchases in the Kingdom of Thailand, with a few provisos:
Purchases must be made from shops that are part of the Tax Refund for Tourists Scheme (look for the blue sign in their window or at the register — most stores in shopping districts in Bangkok are members of the scheme).
The total transaction must be 2,000 baht or more at a shop within one business day (meaning that you could make two 1,000 baht transactions at the same shop on the same day and have them count towards your refund, but one 1,000 baht transaction followed by another two days later will not qualify).
During your entire trip in Thailand, you must have at least 5,000 baht of qualifying transactions to get a refund.
You must get a Tax Refund Form (PP10) from each shop for each purchase.
You must be travelling in Thailand on a tourist visa with a standard passport (diplomatic passports and airline crews are not allowed to participate, nor are foreigners resident in Thailand, nor Thai citizens).
You must depart Thailand by air.
After you’ve completed your holiday shopping spree, assemble all of your PP10 forms and receipts together, and make sure you know where all your purchases are in your luggage. Luxury items, including fountain pens, gold, jewellery, watches, and eyeglasses, are required to be hand carried through immigration (not in your checked luggage). When you arrive at the airport, head to the Tax Refund for Tourists Customs Counter. The officer will check that you have all the purchases with you and stamp your forms.
Check in like normal, and then clear immigration (but not security yet — just immigration). Here, you must have any luxury items checked by an excise officer to make sure you didn’t give any away as presents while you were waiting in line to check in for your flight. The officer will stamp your forms and you are free to head through security! Find the Tax Refund for Tourists window amongst the duty free shops and you can receive your refund (minus a 100 baht processing fee) in cash, cheque, or as a credit to a credit card (refunds of over 30,000 baht are not available as cash).
By Brock Kuhlman
Last updated on 17th June, 2011.