Surge in Tourist Tax Refunds Following Thailand’s Reopening

Tax refunds for tourists have experienced a significant surge since Thailand reopened completely in June of the previous year, as reported by the director-general of the Revenue Department, Lavaron Sangsnit.

The resurgence in the number of international tourists following the reopening was a contributing factor to the considerable increase in value-added tax (VAT) refunds, stated Mr. Lavaron.

The department granted VAT refunds to over 423,000 visitors in 2022, amounting to a total of 1.2 billion baht.

From the beginning of 2022 until May, 55,700 refunds equating to 204 million baht were processed. Conversely, refunds between June and December showed a significant rise to 367,000, totaling nearly 1 billion baht.

This year, as tourist arrivals show a consistent upward trend, the department anticipates a further growth in VAT refunds. From January to March 2023, VAT refunds provided to 273,000 tourists reached 700 million baht.

Three alternatives are provided by the department for VAT refunds.

To get a refund at the airport, purchases of at least 2,000 baht (including VAT) must be made from stores showcasing the “VAT Refund for Tourists” sign.

On the day of purchase, tourists are required to show their passport and ask the sales representative to fill out the VAT Refund Application for Tourists form (P.P.10), along with the original tax receipts.

When leaving, tourists are expected to present the goods as well as the P.P.10 form and original tax invoices for inspection by a customs officer prior to check-in.

Luxury goods purchased by tourists need to be declared at the Customs Inspection Office.

Items considered luxury goods encompass jewellery, gold ornaments, watches, glasses, pens, mobile phones or smartphones, laptops or tablets, handbags and belts, each valued at 10,000 baht or more.

Other hand-carry items can have a value of 50,000 baht or more per item.

Post-immigration, the P.P.10 form and original tax invoices must be submitted at the “VAT Refund for Tourists” counter at an international airport.

Refunds up to 30,000 baht can be received in cash or electronically via Alipay or WeChat, or transferred to a credit or debit card.

For refunds that exceed 30,000 baht, the amount is transferred to a credit card within 34 days.

For mail-based VAT refunds, tourists can send the necessary documents to the “VAT Refund for Tourists” office, and the refund is processed through a credit card transfer.

Refunds can also be obtained at VAT Refund Downtown agents spread across the country, located in major department stores.

Starting from January 2020, the department has incorporated blockchain technology to facilitate VAT refunds to foreign tourists, aiming for more efficient refunds and to incentivize recurring visits by travelers.

Numerous stores now provide electronic P.P.10 forms, enabling travelers to apply for VAT refunds directly via the Thailand VRT app, which operates on blockchain.

Refunds are issued electronically through Alipay, WeChat, or a credit card account transfer.