Revenue Note for Guidance

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Revenue Note for Guidance

58. Retail export scheme


The retail export scheme is a scheme of VAT relief for purchases made by non-EU tourists. Provided certain conditions are met, eligible supplies to tourists can benefit from the zero rate of VAT that is applicable to exports. Broadly, relief is given where the goods are exported within 3 months, the supplier is VAT-registered and has proof that the purchaser is eligible under the scheme, and there is certified customs documentation showing that the goods are exported.

The scheme operates in one of two ways:

  • The tourist pays VAT upfront and subsequently gets a refund from the retailer or refund agency when he/she returns the certified documents.
  • The tourist gets the goods VAT free from the retailer, and returns the certified documents subsequently. The retailer is liable if the documents are not returned.


(1) The terms “traveller”, “traveller’s qualifying goods” and “VAT refunding agent” are defined for the purposes of the scheme.

The term “traveller” means a person whose domicile or habitual residence is not situated within the Community.

The term “traveller’s qualifying goods” means goods (other than goods transported by the traveller for the equipping, fuelling and provisioning of pleasure boats, private aircraft or other means of transport for private use) which are supplied within the State to a traveller and which are exported by or on behalf of that traveller by the last day of the 3rd month following the month in which the supply takes place.

The term “VAT refunding agent” means a person who supplies services which consist of the procurement of a zero-rating (within the meaning of subsection (2)) or repayment of tax in relation to supplies of a traveller’s qualifying goods.

(2) Goods exported under the retail export scheme are zero-rated provided that a number of conditions are met. Under subsection (2) and Regulation 15 of the VAT Regulations 2010, to qualify for zero-rating—

  • the minimum supply which must be made to a traveller for the Retail Export Scheme to be used must be €75 or above,
  • the traveller (tourist) must be eligible,
  • the goods must be exported by or for the tourist by the end of the third month after the sale and there must be proof of this,
  • where a traveller is domiciled or is habitually resident in the United Kingdom, that traveller must provide proof that goods purchased have been imported in the United Kingdom and that value-added tax and duties of customs and excise due by virtue of the law of the United Kingdom have been paid on the importation of the goods in order to make use of the Retail Export Scheme for goods purchased in Ireland.
  • the tourist must get the refund in a timely manner,
  • any commissions and charges must be explained to the tourist,
  • if commissions and charges are expressed in percentages or fractions, then these must relate to the tax amount due,
  • a fair exchange rate must be used in any currency conversions, and
  • traders must keep adequate records of all sales made under the scheme.

This subsection also zero rates the services of a VAT refunding agency in operating the retail export scheme and in repaying the tax claimed by a traveller in respect of that traveller’s qualifying goods.

(3) Revenue may make regulations to introduce an authorisation procedure, if necessary, for categories of accountable persons who wish to make zero-rated supplies to non-EU tourists or to operate as VAT refunding agents.

(4) Subsection (4) provides for VAT refund companies or other businesses to claim input credit for the VAT charged to the traveller.

(5) If the conditions for zero-rating a supply of goods are not complied with, then that supply of goods is no longer eligible for zero-rating. Also, the supply of services of a VAT refunding agent relating to the supply of those goods is no longer eligible for zero-rating.

(6) An officer of Revenue may perform any powers, functions or duties of Revenue specified in this section.

Relevant Date: Finance Act 2020