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Jun 23, 2022
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The Russians began to seize purchases when departing from airports in Europe

Russian tourists complain that when departing from the airports of European cities, they began to withdraw expensive purchases from them. We found out if this could be and what to do about it.

The first alarm in social networks was sounded by a Muscovite, whose handbag was confiscated on departure from the German Frankfurt airport, for which she paid hard-earned 500 euros. At the same time, when selling in the store, its employees calmly issued a tax free receipt for her Russian passport.

Recall that the so-called tax free is a refund of value added tax (VAT), which is valid for foreigners when exporting goods purchased in official store chains worth more than a certain amount from the country. The minimum check subject to VAT refund is different in each country: for example, in Germany they will return part of the money for a purchase worth more than 25 euros, in Italy – from 155, in France – from 175. VAT refundable is also different in all countries: the lowest ( 8%) in Switzerland, and the highest (25% of the purchase price) in Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Norway and Sweden.

“The purchase from a citizen of the Russian Federation was confiscated precisely when they tried to get this very return at the airport,” answers the question of whether the seizure of the handbag is legal, international lawyer Alexei Mironov. – The bag cost 500 euros, and the European Union, let me remind you, banned “the export to the Russian Federation of luxury goods, including clothing and accessories, worth more than 300 euros.” So formally they had the right to withdraw. But why, at the same time, the store calmly issued a refund from a purchase for 500 euros to the passport of a citizen of the Russian Federation, the question is rather a moral one. We will sell it, but we will not let it be taken out.

According to the injured Russian woman, the German customs officer, to whom she turned for tax free, not only did not pay her and withdrew the purchase, but also informed her that she intended to “bring a case on the illegal import of luxury goods into the Russian Federation.” At the same time, the victim of customs had only a Russian passport: she flew from Frankfurt not to the Russian Federation, but to another country, and tried to get the deduction on a foreign bank card.

“As we can see, a violator of EU sanctions on the export of “luxury” to the Russian Federation from 300 euros is at risk, even if he flies to a third country,” the lawyers summarize. – So, the Russian passport is enough for the customs. But, given that the ban has been in place since March, and such cases are rare, this, alas, largely depends on the mood and attitude of the customs officer you came across. In any case, it is better not to “shine” expensive purchases by sacrificing a tax refund.

We found out how often the European customs shows a “bad mood” in relation to a Russian tourist?

“I recently had a similar situation at the Paris airport,” says a Muscovite who recently returned from France. – I went for tax free and they eventually issued it to me. But first they gave a lecture that, according to the law, all my purchases should have been confiscated, since they far exceed the amount of 300 euros, which can be used to export European “luxury” to Russia. I think I was just lucky: a young officer got caught, he made eyes at me.

– And we had the same in Vienna! – support the first opinion of the wife from St. Petersburg. – Only the deduction was never issued to us, but at least the “luxury” was not taken away. Of the two new suitcases purchased in Austria, it only consisted of two suitcases, however, of high quality and therefore not cheap. We came with receipts for the deduction, and the man in the window, very apologetic, advised us to put these papers in the trash as soon as possible, and run ourselves before they were taken away. We did just that.

“And my friend in Rome looked after herself sneakers of the “sanctioned” brand, decided to take two pairs for herself, so that for the future,” says a resident of New Moscow. – So they didn’t even want to sell her in a large mall (shopping center – author), they say, you speak Russian. But she did not lose her head, she said that she did not have a passport with her, but she would prove that she was not from Russia, but was married in another country. She showed me her social media account. And what do you think?! Sold!

On departure from Milan, customs officers asked another Russian couple about things of specific brands (they listed the three most expensive ones), took their word that they were not there, and let them go. So the couple safely took out several products of the same – the most forbidden – brands at once, but, however, they did not even try to get tax free.

Here are more variants of the same thing that happened to Russians who recently returned from Europe.

– I was denied a deduction for an expensive smartphone at Malaga Airport, Spain. But they didn’t take it away, although they warned that they would take it away next time.

– And in Berlin, when selling a coat, they immediately refused to give me a ticket for taxi fries. At first they thought, then they called the elder, he said: Russians don’t have a stamp, that’s all.

As is usually the case with compatriots, although the phenomenon is fresh, there are already life hacks on how to counter it. In Germany, experienced buyers from Russians recommend getting a VAT refund not at airports, as our tourists are used to doing, but at city tax free points, of which there are a great many in every German city.

It is also advised to fly to Europe without a suitcase, buy it on the spot and stuff it with expensive things, pre-disputing labels. At customs, in the case of inspection, claim that this is the luggage with which you arrived. But, of course, no tax fries. And here is the most unexpected advice on how to avoid weaning expensive purchases.

“Why do you need Europe, it’s better to fly to South Korea,” recommends a buyer from one of the capital’s fashion boutiques. – All popular brands are available, they cost the same as in Europe, or even cheaper. Taxi fries are given out, Russians are loved.

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