Thailand Eases VAT Refunds for Tourists

Thailand Eases VAT Refunds for Tourists

Learn how to simplify Thai shopping with new VAT refund regulations! Effective January 1, these changes enhance the experience for foreign visitors, offering more straightforward eligibility and higher refund limits. Skip airport queues and claim refunds on more items like jewellery and electronics.

Improving Airport Efficiency and Streamlining Processes

Efforts to enhance airport efficiency and streamline processes are underway, promising smoother travel experiences for passengers worldwide. These initiatives aim to optimise operations, reduce wait times, and enhance overall satisfaction for travellers, as explained below.

  • Reducing Airport Congestion

Raising the minimum purchase threshold for customs declaration and enabling direct VAT refund requests means fewer tourists go through lengthy customs protocols. This slashes airport congestion previously caused by tourists queuing up for customs validation.

  • Simplified Tourist Refunds

The higher threshold and straight-to-revenue department refunds for purchases under 20,000 baht simplify VAT returns for visitors. Tourists need to avoid customs paperwork and validation time for lower-value purchases.

  • Quicker Refund Processing

With direct VAT refund routing and an expanded e-filing system, the revenue department can expedite digital tourist refunds without customs bottlenecks. This bypasses previous delays.

  • Boosted Airport Experience

Decongesting airports and faster VAT refunds improve the airport experience for tourists and locals. Less crowded airports with tighter reimbursements give visitors an enhanced perception of Thailand.

Streamlining Requirements and Broadening Eligible Purchases

The prior prerequisite of reporting goods to customs for a VAT refund, which applied to purchases, has been modified.

The new threshold has been raised, enabling tourists to directly request a VAT refund from the Revenue Department for goods valued under this amount, bypassing customs protocols.

Additionally, the inventory of goods needing declaration has been widened to incorporate things like jewellery, gold ornaments, watches, eyewear, smartphones, and laptops or tablets.

Adjustments to value thresholds have been instituted, with certain items set at a price and carry-on suitable items reaching a specific price.

Prerequisites for Value-Added Tax Reimbursement

To qualify for a VAT refund, visitors must meet particular criteria, including transporting the bought merchandise outside of Thailand within 60 days from the purchase date.

Additionally, the aggregate amount spent should be a minimum (VAT inclusive) from vendors exhibiting the “VAT Refund for Tourists'' emblem on the same calendar day. Tourists must retain receipts and tax invoices to provide as documentation when requesting the VAT refund.

The goods purchased must be intended for personal rather than commercial use and exported out of Thailand within the designated time frame after purchase. Meeting these conditions allows international visitors to be reimbursed for the VAT paid on goods during their trip.

New and Improved VAT Refund System in Thailand: Breakdown

Thailand unveils its revamped VAT refund system, promising a more streamlined and efficient process for tourists seeking reimbursement on their purchases. This overhaul aims to enhance the tourist experience and boost spending in the country's retail sector.


Details (Old vs. New)


Minimum purchase per shop

Certain set amount (including VAT)

No change

Total purchase threshold

5,000 baht

No change

Customs declaration threshold

5,000 baht (Old) -> 20,000 baht (New)

Encourages tourists to declare more purchases

Expanded declarable items

No change in the definition

More items eligible for refunds

Minimum purchase for specific items

Varies (e.g., 5,000 baht for electronics)

Increased to 40,000 baht for specific items

Minimum purchase for carry-on items

No specific threshold

New threshold of 100,000 baht

Refund methods

Up to 30,000 baht: cash, draft, credit card; Above 30,000 baht: draft, credit card

Cash option limited to smaller refunds

Time limit

60 days from purchase

No change

Additional Notes:

  • The changes simplify procedures for smaller refunds while ensuring control for larger ones.
  • Increased thresholds encourage declaring more purchases and potentially claiming higher refunds.
  • The system caters to different preferences with cash and non-cash options.
  • Overall, the updates aim to improve the tourist experience and enhance the integrity of the VAT refund system.


What are the fundamental changes to the VAT refund policy?

The main changes include raising the threshold for customs declaration, expanding the categories of goods eligible for VAT refunds, adjusting value thresholds for specific items, and simplifying procedures to request refunds directly from the Revenue Department.

What goods can tourists get VAT refunds for now?

Tourists can get VAT refunds for jewellery, gold ornaments, watches, smartphones, laptops and tablets, eyewear, cosmetics, bags, clothing and other personal items. Stricter criteria apply to some goods like alcohol and cigarettes.

How much do purchases have to total to qualify for a VAT refund?

Purchases must total a minimum amount (VAT inclusive) made on the same day and from vendors displaying the "VAT Refund for Tourists" sign. Individual items under 20,000 baht no longer require a customs declaration.

What is the time limit to get the VAT refund?

Visitors must depart Thailand with the purchased products within 60 days of purchase to qualify for the VAT refund. Requests must be submitted at the airport when exiting the country.

Where do tourists request the VAT refund when leaving Thailand?

Upon departure, VAT refund requests can be processed at service counters located in designated zones within Thailand's international airports. Tourists should present their passports, completed forms, purchase invoices and tax receipts. The refund amounts are typically credited within 30 days.

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