Tax Free - VAT refund, Amsterdam
What to buy:
Remember to save all your receipts (Value Added Tax: VAT) and when your in the airport dicking around tell your flight leave, go to the VAT station and get your refund for you tax.
Europe's Value Added Tax ranges from five percent to 22 percent per country, averaging 16 percent overall. A bit of a stealth tax, VAT is wrapped right into the purchase price. So if the VAT is 20 percent, the tax portion of an €100 item would be €16.70, not €20 as you might expect. Rates change, so check with merchants when you're there.
Know where to get your refund. If you buy merchandise in a European Union country, process your documents at your last stop in the EU, regardless of where you made your purchases.
I always feel that time flies fast when I'm at Schiphol Airport. Blame it on their duty free shops. The shops offer a variety of choices - from toys, toiletries, souvenirs, wares, to food products.
At the airport's mezzanine, there's a McDonald's outlet which, so far, is the only one I found that accepts credit card.
What to buy: My favorite "buy" is the cheese wheel. I never leave Netherlands without it.
And, one souvenir I bought there that I have with me everyday is the cow paper weight. The size of a milk can, wrapped around it is a caricature of the different sights of Amsterdam, and when inverted, it produces the sound of a cow. I find it a good therapy when I'm stressed at work.
What to pay: Expect to pay 20% more for an item vis-a-vis its price in the stores in the city.
Non-EU residents that have purchased goods in Europe and are entitled to a VAT refund, can have their VAT paid out in cash at Schiphol. VAT cheques of the Global Refund organisation can be cashed at one of the branches of ABN AMRO Bank and GWK. Cheques issued by the Cashback and Easy Tax Free organisations can be cashed at the desk of the Communication Centre in Lounge Central.
What to buy: To qualify for a VAT refund the following points are important:
~BEFORE passing passport control, the purchases, receipts, relevant VAT cheque(s) and passport have to be shown at the customs office that is located in Departures. It is important therefore that you do not check in the goods that you have purchased before going to the customs office!
~Customs officers will check the documents and goods and then stamp the VAT cheque.
~The completely filled in and stamped cheque can then be cashed at one of the branches of ABN AMRO Bank and GWK (Global Refund) or at the Communication Centre in Lounge Central (Easy Tax Free and Cashback).
What to pay: For questions regarding VAT refund you can contact Douane Schiphol (Customs Schiphol) at +31 (0)20 – 316 4700. For general information about travelling and customs you can contact them as well or the Belastingtelefoon Douane (Taxinformation Customs) at +31 (0)800 – 01 430.
Schiphol Airport is great for those last minute treats. For instance we didn't have a fridge in our hotel room so had to buy things like cheese at the last minute.
Before passport control there is a huge shopping mall downstairs in Arrivals which is open for everyone, not just travellers.
There is a supermarket and clothes shops plus all sorts of other shops and bars/cafes.
After passport conrol there are dozens of shops as well to all directons. So if your flight goes from say Gates D, it's worth wondering over to Gates E, F and G as well. It's a good five-ten minute walk but worth it. For instance I didn't visit Rijksmuseum but they have a shop at the airport (towards Gates F,G) and I found a lovely "Sunflowers" mug for 6.50 Euro!
There's loads of Holland gift shops ans food shops full of all sorts fo goodies and special offers.