When you’re shopping in amazing Thailand… did you know that they have a VAT Refund Bangkok Scheme for tourists?
There are so many many shopping centres, boutique stores, and even pharmacies… where tourists can take advantage of this privilege. So, while you’re by buying up big and spending your hard-earned money… isn’t great to know that you could get some money back?
Now, it’s common that before leaving Thailand… our suitcases are packed with goodies we bought. And, as we’ve done this many times before… it’s an easy process for us to get the VAT refund. Yet, as we’ve seen first-hand, it can be confusing for tourists about how it works.
Plus, some tourists have even missed out on getting lots of money back, that they were expecting… all because they did not know the correct steps. You don’t want to end your trip in Bangkok with miserable thoughts, right?
And, there are some critical points you need to know… so that you can get that VAT refund stress-free.
Thus, in this We Drink Eat Trave blog… I’ll run through 4 key steps in how to get a VAT refund in Bangkok. And, this relates specifically for Suvarnabhumi Airport, updated for 2023.
Yet, before we start…
What Is The VAT Refund?
The VAT refund tourist scheme was set up to encourage visitors to shop in Thailand… and to get VAT (value added tax) back on certain items.
Thus, visitors entering Thailand on a tourist visa… may be able to get refunds of up to 7% value of the VAT paid, on goods purchased at certain stores.
Now, when you’re enjoying shopping in Bangkok… not every store entitles you to a VAT refund. So, to see which stores offer the VAT Refund Tourist Scheme, check to see if they display a sign like this…
And, in our experience… it’s best to also ask the staff at the store to confirm if they offer the VAT refund. And, that’s because things can change, then they no longer offer it. Or, they’ve forgotten to take the sign down!
Plus, sometimes the staff may forget… or not even know about offering the VAT Refund to tourists. So, feel free to ask them.
And, while you’re at the check-out counter… there’s some routine paperwork that needs to be done. So, remember this before you pay for your goods, and head off on your next adventure.
An Essential to Help You Get the Vat Refund
Apart from money or credit cards to buy your goods… there’s one other essential thing you need if you want tax refunds on certain purchases. And, that is a form by the name of, PP10 VAT.
And, as you’re paying for your goods… a staff member will complete their section of the golden yellow form. Then, then they’ll also completes an official store receipt… of which they attach to the same form.
Now, you’ll need your passport… as well as other information such as the date you’re leaving Thailand, for example.
In saying that, sometimes I’ve only ever had to fill out my name, date and signature. Yet, you never know who you’ll get… at the VAT Refund Bangkok Service Counters, at Suvarnabhumi Airport. So, you can try your luck… or avoid a potential painful situation by completing the yellow form properly!
So, each time we request on the form that we’d like to get our refund in cash… which will be in Thai Baht. And, that’s because we love coming to Thailand as often as we can.
And, that’s so we can hold onto that Thai Baht for our next trip. Or, if we’re not at an airport lounge… we can use the money towards some relaxing pre-flight brews or food!
Yet, you can choose to receive the VAT refund via a credit card, for example… if that suits better.
Some of the VAT Refund Bangkok Shopping Rules
Now, getting a VAT refund in Bangkok, has routine terms and conditions that go along with it. And, here are some examples of those rules:
- A VAT refund only applies to products taken out of Thailand… within 60 days after you made the purchase.
- A refund can only be given to a non-Thai visitor… who’s been in Thailand for less than 180 days in that calendar year.
- The minimum purchase must be at least 2,000 Thai Baht per store, and per day.
- You must show your passport to the sales assistant… so they can fill in the PP10 VAT refund form, which is that key yellow form.
- You must have receipts from all of your eligible purchases.
- You must depart Thailand by air from an International Airport… including Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Phuket, for example.
So, one of the other interesting rules states that… the store must show the “VAT Refund For Tourists” sign. Yet, unless the signs were hidden somewhere… I’ve bought goods where I didn’t even see the sign showing. Even so, we’d still have to go through the process of filling out the yellow forms.
If you’ve bought some products where an individual item is over 5,000 THB per piece… in many circumstances you’ll need to show the VAT Refund officer these items at the airport. So, make sure you to have those goods handy, ready for inspection.
For example, I’d bought an iPhone and a Macbook Pro laptop… of which I bought both of those items each for over 5,000 Thai Baht. Then, when asked, I had to show both of these to the officer.
Now, let’s go through 4 simple steps of getting the VAT Refund… for when you’re at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.
4 Steps on How to Get the VAT Refund Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi Airport
Step 1: Go to the First VAT Refund Section BEFORE You Check In
Now, there is one key thing that many tourists do not do… which then results in the heartache of them not being able to get the VAT refund.
So, before you even check in to your flight… you MUST go to the first VAT Refund Bangkok Service area. Some tourists do not realize that there are 2 places you need to go… in order to get the money back. So, the first one is before checking into your flights… and the second one is after you pass through immigration.
Now, when you’re at the Departures Level of Suvarnabhumi Airport… make your way to Entrance 10. Then, once you’re there… you’ll be able to see the VAT Refund office, at the far wall. And, the open office area looks like this…
So, wait in the line until one of the officers calls you over to their desk.
BUT, take special note, that this is NOT where you’ll get your money.
Step 2: Hand Over Your Documents and Goods if Required
Now, when you go the VAT Refund officer’s desk, this is what you need to give to them…
- Your passport
- The filled out golden yellow PP10 VAT Refund Form, with attached receipts
Now, depending on the value of each item… the officer may request to see goods that are over 5,000 Thai Baht each.
Then, once that’s all done, they sign the yellow form. And, in the bottom right hand corner of the same form, they put on a stamp, like this…
So, you must make sure you double, or even triple check… that their signature is on each of the yellow forms.
Plus, if you have multiple forms… make sure that they have put that essential stamp on each form. Otherwise you can kiss your VAT Refund good-bye after you’ve gone through immigration… and you won’t get your money back.
Now, you can check in to your flight!
Step 3: Go to the VAT Refund Bangkok Service Counters After Immigration
After passing through immigration… you’ll see a massive board showing different amenities within Bangkok Airport. And, that board looks like this…
You’ll notice that there are signs pointing to 2 different VAT refund areas. Now, don’t let that confuse you. You can simply choose the one that’s most effective for your needs… whether that be closest to your boarding gate or airline lounge, for example.
It doesn’t matter which one you decide to choose to use… as they both offer the same service, of giving you money back!
So, we’ve been to both VAT refund areas. Yet, this time round, we were going to use the Bangkok Airways Lounge. Thus, we went to the right-hand side this time.
Then, after a few hundred metres we were at the VAT Refund Bangkok counters, that look like similar to this…
Step 4: Hand Over Your Yellow VAT Refund Form(s) and ID
At the VAT Refund area… there are signs stating that only 1 person should go to the VAT Refund counter.
Now, wait in line until you see that there is a free counter to go to. And for us, at the time we went, was no-one there. Thus, we had no mundane waiting! Yet, I recall one time we the wait was for about 45 minutes!
Therefore, to make the process more stress-free… set some time aside in your schedule to get your VAT refund from start to finish.
Then, at the counter I had to give the officer my passport, and yellow forms to inspect. Plus, be prepared that you may have to show your goods again… to the officer at this second VAT Refund Bangkok Service area.
And, after a few minutes or so… the officer effortlessly handed over a pink receipt, and our cash!
Reasons Why You May Not Get Any Money Back
Now, even though you may have passed through the first VAT Refund check point… believe it or not, you could still be denied and not get your money back.
And, on the back of the receipt there’s a list of key reasons, as to why you may not get the refund, including…
Now, here’s an example of my close call with a VAT Refund officer…
I love earning loyalty points to redeem for rewards when I can… as I’m a loyalty program junkie! Ha, ha, ha! And, years back I became a member of “The 1 Card Rewards Program.”
So, when I was joining the Program… I had to sign up and use my passport as part of the process. Then, even years later after making multiple trips to Thailand… I was presenting my loyalty card while blissfully shopping, and earning points.
Yet, there was one huge thing that I forgot. And, that was I’d gotten a new passport! So, the receipts from the shops where I was using my loyalty card… had my old passport number on them.
Then, when I was at the VAT Refund Bangkok Service counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport… she was asking me what the number was on my yellow forms.
And, after showing her my Rewards Program Card… she said that this had my old passport number. Oh my gosh, I then felt dreadful! It was a silly, yet innocent mistake on my behalf, for not being aware of this.
Yet, maybe it was my lucky day, as she still gave me the VAT refund and receipt… even though the information wasn’t correct.
Now, in the above example… the VAT Refund officer could have denied me from getting my money back! So, check that the passport number on any documents… to ensure that they reflect your correct details.
Important Reminders on Getting a VAT Refund
So, there you have 4 steps on how to get a VAT refund in Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Plus, I did share with you some critical tips, and a real-life example of mine. Thus, I trust that this helps when you go to get your VAT refund.
Remember, you need to check that the store you’re buying from offers the VAT Tourist Refund. Then, when buying the goods… make sure that the yellow form is completely filled in properly. Be aware of the terms and conditions, otherwise you may not get your refund.
Plus, there are 2 VAT Refund Bangkok offices that you need to visit… one before you check in, and the other one after passing through immigration. Remember to get the officer’s signature and that stamp on each of your yellow forms.
And, if the goods that you bought are over 5,000 THB each… you’ll most likely need to show those items to the VAT Refund Officers. So, make sure you have them handy and ready.
Finally, sometimes the lines can be long. So, make sure you allow yourself enough time at the airport… in case there’s a hefty wait, while other tourists are getting their VAT refunds.
Now, with all that said… we hope that you have a great time in Bangkok, whatever you decide to do! ENJOY!