Revolutionizing the VAT refund process

Ziv Tirosh

Co-Founder & CEO, Refundit

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If you are a non-EU resident and returning to the country of your domicile after a long, relaxing family holiday in the EU where you indulged in a fair amount of shopping, you will definitely be familiar with the VAT (value added tax) refund process at the airport.

Claiming the refund however has not always been a smooth ride including filling out different forms, leaving an hour earlier for the airport and queuing up in lengthy lines at the customs counter. 

But do you know how inefficient the process really is? Well out of the approximate 150 million non-EU tourists who visit the EU every year generating shopping worth €126 billion, the VAT refund infrastructure by law owes back at least €26 billion to these tourists. However with most tourists giving up midway or not even considering the cumbersome refund process in the first place, over 80% (€20B) is never returned! 

We set up Refundit to revolutionize the VAT refund field throughout the EU, by providing a mobile solution that would 100% digitize the process. In three easy steps - clicking a photo of their receipts, boarding pass and passport; claiming their refund and getting a confirmation via the app - tourists save time filling out forms and standing in lines at the airport and most importantly are ensured of their cash back.  

The difference in our solution compared to other providers is that because we have digitized the process end-to-end, tax authorities can approve claims digitally. It allows authorities to integrate innovative elements such as big data, advanced analytics, AI capabilities to facilitate fraud prevention, making the VAT refund a failsafe process. In some cases - take for example very high value goods purchases - travelers may be required to check in at the customs counter. However more often, the process is straight forward and extremely user-friendly.

Our solution is all inclusive - since the process is so simple and quick, all shops (even small to medium sized merchants) can participate. Travelers also get bigger refunds since the Refundit mobile app charges a nominal 9% handling fee compared to the current 25 to 60% charged by other providers. 

It's a win-win for everyone: the tourist, retailer, tax authorities and the country’s economy by making shopping even more appealing. In fact, it is because of the convenience we deliver and the fact that Amadeus is constantly looking for opportunities to take friction out of travel that the two companies are such a perfect match.

Click here to read more about the recent investment Amadeus Ventures has made in Refundit. 

We’re very excited to be able to work with Amadeus and take advantage of its network to create awareness for our app. While we are currently piloting the solution in Belgium and Slovakia; we are looking forward to empowering every non-EU traveler to the region by offering the smoothest possible end-to-end travel experience.

To find out more about Refundit, click here.