Thailand sees tourist tax refund surge since reopening in June

VAT refund counter, Image via Flickr

Following Thailand‘s full reopening in June last year, the number of tourist tax refunds has surged, as reported by Revenue Department director-general Lavaron Sangsnit. The increase in foreign visitors is evident in the substantial rise in value-added tax (VAT) refund totals. In 2022, over 423,000 tourists received VAT refunds, totalling 1.2 billion baht.

Between January and May 2022, there were 55,700 refunds, equating to 204 million baht. However, from June to December, refunds increased to 367,000, amounting to nearly 1 billion baht. As tourist arrivals continue to grow, the department anticipates VAT refunds to rise further. From January to March 2023, VAT refunds were provided to 273,000 tourists, worth 700 million baht.

The department offers three options for VAT refunds:

1. Airport refunds: Goods worth at least 2,000 baht (inclusive of VAT) must be purchased from stores displaying the “VAT Refund for Tourists” sign. On the purchase date, tourists must present their passports and request the sales assistant to issue the VAT Refund Application for Tourists form (P.P.10) with the original tax invoices. On the departure date, tourists must present the goods and the P.P.10 form with original tax invoices to a customs officer for inspection before check-in. Luxury goods must be declared at the Customs Inspection Office.

2. VAT refunds by mail: Tourists can post the required documents to the VAT Refund for Tourists Office, and the refund payment is made via a credit card transfer.

3. Refunds at VAT Refund Downtown agents: Located at leading department stores nationwide.

Since January 2020, the department has utilised blockchain technology to provide VAT refunds to foreign tourists, to speed up refunds and encourage return visits. Many stores now issue electronic P.P.10 forms, allowing travellers to submit VAT refunds directly through the Thailand VRT app, which is powered by blockchain. Refund payments are made electronically through Alipay, WeChat, or transfer to a credit card account, reports Bangkok Post.

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Alex Morgan

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