Bare with us, this one is all technical and whatnot...but we swear its a good thing.
In Ireland, almost all consumer products are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT.)
VAT is a "hidden tax" of 16% to 21% - already added into the purchase price of most goods. however, non-EU visitors are entitled to get a refund of VAT paid. Unlike all other EU countries, Ireland requires no minimum purchase. The VAT rate in Ireland varies, but refunds usually return about 17% of purchase price (after a small service fee is deducted.) You can avoid VAT altogether by mailing gifts home or by buying items in churches, national museums, tourist offices, and other non-profit organizations that operate as charitable trusts.
Refund Systems in Ireland
Global Refund Tax Free Shopping
This is the largest and most reliable VAT refund system. Simply make purchases either by cash or credit card, and then request a Global REfund form (blue and white in colour) from the store clerk. He/She fills in the nexessary store details; you fill in your name and home address, etc. Save all the forms until your departure. At Shannon Airport, hand in your forms to the Global REfund desk, and you will get a refund of cash (dollars,euros,or other currency of choice.) You also get a printed receipt with complete details of our total purchases and VAT refun. If you prefer to have a credit applied to your credit care you may do so. If you don't have time or forgegt to submit your VAT forms at the airport before your departure, you have 90 days to mail the vouchers back. These Tax-free vouchers must be stamped by a customs officer or a notary public at home before being mailed. Find out more on the Global Refund website.
Ireland Refund Tax Free
Make purchases by credit card or cash and receive a Tax Free form. Fill out the forms and keep until the end of the trip. When you get to the airport, go to the Tax Free desk and submit your receipts. Refund is by check or crediting your credit card. Find out more on the Euro Refund website.
Horizon/FeXco Tax Free Shopping
This is a red "Horizon"plastic card just like a credit card. It records the tax you are due when making a purchase. This "swipe and save" system is fairly new. When departing Ireland from Dublin or Shannon, put your card in the automated machines or present to the FeXco Tax-Free desk, and your tax refund will automatically be transferred to your credit card. You can get this card before you leave home online, or at any participating store. Find out more on the Shop Tax Free website.
Operated by a number of the larger stores, directly or through Global Refund. It is almost as easy as mailing your goods back home, but without postage costs. You are asked to pay by credit card. Stores take off the VAT at the time of purchase, and give you a form and a postage-free envelope. However, you must remember to hand in or mail your forms upon departure from Ireland. Some forms require you to have the forms stamped by a customs officer before departure. If you don't mail/hand in your forms, then your credit card will be charged VAT plus a free. If you don't have a credit card but still want to make a purchase, you pay the full price including VAT and the store sends you a check within six weeks.
Above all, always remember to get a VAT refund form each time you make a purchase (or, in the case of Horizon, present your card at participating stores to record your purchases on your plastic card.) You can't get any refund (cash, check or credit card rebate,) without a form or a card.
Making Credit Card Purchases
When charging your purchases to a credit card, sales clerks will often ask if you want to charge your purchases in euros or dollars. ALWAYS: "Charge in Euros."