Tax free shopping and how to get a tax refund in Tbilisi, Batumi and Kutaisi airports in Georgia

Tax free tax return counter in Tbilisi airport in Georgia

Georgian Revenue service is providing information on tax free shopping and the VAT refund on their website, but unfortunately in Georgian only. As the process is quite different than in other countries, we decided to share our experiences about it.

How to get a VAT return?

Before buying, make sure that the shop is eligible for tax free shopping. It is possible that the merchant has a Tax free sticker on their door or window, but they are not necessarily willing to make you the necessary paperwork. Georgian Revenue service is selling tax free stickers to merchants for 0.35 GEL each, and on top of that they pay 200 GEL/year for the status. In most cases, it is merely for marketing purposes.

When you find a real tax free shop and want to do your purchase, the shop will give you a signed and stamped paper called Value Added Tax (VAT) Refund Receipt. Filling out the form will usually take some time, as not many people ask for it and the salespeople are unfamiliar with the process. They might need to call their manager for help. When the paper is ready, you need to sign it in order to accept the rules. Then they will package your product into their shop's bag and seal it with tax free label. You may not open the bag or use the product before you leave Georgia. This rule is quite extraordinary. We have not seen a similar restriction anywhere else in the world.

Once the purchase is made, you must leave the country within 90 days by airplane as tax refunds are given only in the international airports in Tbilisi, Batumi, and Kutaisi. At the airport, go to the tax free counter before checking in, present them the VAT refund receipt and the sealed product, and they will inspect your product. The process can be slow, so make sure you don't arrive at the airport last minute. After that, you will get another paper, which you need to take to a bank. The bank will give you the refund in cash in Georgian laris (GEL).

An example Value Added Tax (VAT) Refund Receipt

Tax refund is not 18% but 13,46%

The sum they will give you is not 18 per cent — the value added tax — as there are several fees that are deducted from the refund. Revenue Service takes 22.22 per cent of the refund and the bank 3 per cent. The rest, 13.46 per cent, is what you get back calculated from the tax free price, or 11.41 per cent when calculated from the purchase price including VAT. The refund calculation is available in your "Value Added Tax (VAT) Refund Receipt".

An example of a VAT refund calculation

Price including VAT200,00 GEL
VAT30,51 GEL
- Revenue service fee6,78 GEL
- Bank fee0,92 GEL
VAT refund22,81 GEL

In this example, the difference between the VAT and the refund is 7,69 GEL (4,54%). If you have questions, Georgian Revenue service can help you by email info@rs.ge with 1-8 days delay, but their answers are in Georgian only. However, questions may be presented in English.

Georgian tax free shopping rules in a nutshell

  • The minimum purchase is 200 GEL from one shop at one time.
  • You may not use the product before tax free inspection.
  • The tax return is only partial, not the full 18 % VAT.
  • You have to leave Georgia within 3 months of the purchase.
  • You need a stamped and signed VAT refund receipt from the seller.
  • The product must be in a plastic or a paper bag sealed by the seller.
  • You must exit the country from an International airport (Tbilisi, Kutaisi or Batumi).
Tax free refund seal sticker used in Georgia

We would love to hear about your experiences on tax free shopping in Georgia and are happy to answer your questions. Please leave us a comment below!

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