Tourists can qualify for a VAT refund in Israel. VAT stands for “Value Added Tax”. VAT is added on to many of the items and merchandise tourists buy while visiting Israel. The current VAT in Israel is 17 percent. While that may seem somewhat high and add a good chunk of money to your more expensive purchases, the good news is that tourists can apply for the refund of that extra tax money before leaving the country at many of the airports, seaports or border crossings.
What qualifies for a VAT Refund?
Chances are, you visited memorable cities in Israel like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Eilat. Maybe you bought a few keepsakes to bring back home with you. So, do your purchases qualify for a VAT refund in Israel? In order to qualify for a VAT refund:
Your purchase must have been made at a store that participates in this refund (it is easy to check this, there will be a “tax refund for tourists” sticker on the door or window of the shop)
Your purchase must have cost more than 400 shekels (including the VAT tax)
You must be taking the items out of the country and they must be for personal use
Items may not be food, drinks or tobacco (these do not qualify for a VAT refund)
Simply having the receipt of an item will not guarantee a refund. When you make a purchase, ask the store owner for a special tax-refund invoice. It must contain the printed name of the store. You will need to have the invoice, the receipt and the item with you when applying for the refund.
Where to Get a VAT Refund
Tourists can apply for a VAT refund for their items at these locations:
Land border crossings: Nahar Ha-Yarden (Houssein) Bridge, Alenbi Bridge, Rafiah Border Crossing, Taba Border Crossing, Aravah Terminal
Claiming Your VAT Refund
When leaving Israel, look for the VAT refund counter in the airport, seaport or at the border crossing. When flying, it is easiest to have the items in your carry-on because you will not be able to access your checked bags once you have dropped them off with the airline. Take the invoice, receipt and item to the refund counter. You will also have to show your tourist visa you received when entering Israel to qualify for the refund.
Once you leave the country, you will not be able to request any refund. Note, there is also a service commission that is applied when receiving a VAT refund in Israel. Follow this process and you will end up with some extra money at the end of your trip. One final tip, if you prefer to shop without paying any VAT in Israel, head to Eilat. Eilat is home to tax-free shopping.