Tourists and business travellers who have been shopping in Finland during their trip can take advantage of Tax Free shopping programs and VAT refund offices to save money while travelling. Before boarding their plane out of Helsinki Vantaa International airport, just like when they depart other member countries of the European Union, visitors are given the opportunity to claim the taxes paid on their purchases, thus being able to get back all the money they should have not paid because they are non-EU citizens. However, before applying for a VAT refund there are certain requirements that must be met.
When is VAT refund applicable in Finland?
If you have been travelling in Finland and your last stop before leaving the EU will be Helsinki airport, you can ask for a VAT refund there, but you have to be a non-EU national or show proof of having resided abroad for over six months and must have spent at least 40 euros in total (an amount that is lower than the minimum required in other EU countries), aside from keeping your receipts and Tax Free forms in safe place until you get your refund.
To ensure you meet all requirements, look for a Global Blue (the main Tax Free shopping program in Helsinki) badge displayed near the tills or cash registers in every shop you go to, and do not forget to ask for your form to fill in after paying. Often times, they will print the form for you to hand over at the airport office.
Ways of claiming your VAT refund in Helsinki airport of Finland
Helsinki Vantaa boasts a wide range of passenger services that go from luggage lockers to transit hotels, and also special attention is paid to Tax Free shopping customers. Once at the airport, you can either go to the VAT refund office of Helsinki airport in person and get your tax refund or post your filled-in and stamped form in the mail by using the boxes that have been specifically designated for such purpose.
To summarise the steps to be taken, you must get a form at the moment of purchasing your goods, get it stamped at the airport (at Customs or at the Global Blue counter) and then submit your request for a refund in person or by post. You will be asked to show the receipts of your shopping and a form of identification (passport or ID). Additionally, it is advisable that you put the items you would like to get a tax refund for inside your carry on, which will ensure that you can show them to the Customs staff if needed. Ideally, you can wait until you are in the Duty Free area of the terminal to look for last-minute souvenirs; this way they will already be with you before boarding the plane and at the moment of talking to the VAT refund agent.
Location of VAT refund points in Helsinki airport
First, to get a stamp on your Tax Free forms and receipts, you must go to the Global Blue office, which is located in the public arrivals hall 2B of Terminal 2. As it stays open between 7:00 and 18:00 only, this step of the process will be done by the staff at the Customs office when you arrive to the terminal before or after its working hours.
Should you want to get your money back in person, this is only possible when the Global Blue office is open. They may process your refund by credit card (without incurring a commission), in cash (a commission of 3 euros applies) and by Alipay or WeChat (a commission of 1,5 euros applies).
Otherwise, if you can wait until you are back home to get your VAT refund, you can always follow the instructions detailed at the back of the form and post it yourself. The mailbox for Tax Free refund claims in Helsinki airport is located in the Schengen boarding area near gate 13 and the most obvious advantage of this option is that it is available 24 hours, so you can do it regardless of the departure time of your flight.
If you are planning your trip to Finland and have yet to find accommodation, have a look at our recommended hotels in Helsinki.