Are there any additional customs requirements associated with shipping by train?

Value added tax (VAT) is a multi-stage sales tax whose final burden falls on the private consumer. VAT at the corresponding rate will be included in the price you pay for the products you purchase. As a visitor from the EU returning to your country or going to another non-EU country, you may have the right to purchase products without VAT in special stores. In some countries, you can also qualify as a “visitor” if you live in an EU country for a defined period of time for a specific purpose, but your permanent home is outside the EU and you have no intention of returning to the EU in the foreseeable future.

EU citizens who live permanently in non-EU countries are also entitled to a VAT refund. You must pay the full price of the products in the store, including VAT; you will be refunded the VAT once you have completed the procedures and can show proof of export. You must be there in person to make a VAT-free purchase, although you don't have to pay for the merchandise yourself. At some larger ports and airports, you may be able to get a refund right away once customs officials have stamped your form, provided that the store where you bought the merchandise uses this service.

Stores don't have to offer a VAT-free service. Those who choose to do so should make appropriate arrangements with the tax authorities. There are some products that don't meet the requirements. The facility is intended for goods that, in principle, could be transported in personal luggage.

Excludes goods that must be exported as cargo, for example, and cars and yachts. Some countries may also exclude other product categories. To avoid the administrative burdens of low-value items, there is a minimum value of 175 euros (or the equivalent in national currency outside the euro area) for total purchase, but EU countries can set lower thresholds. The threshold applies to the total amount of products purchased at a given store.

Normally, you can't accumulate purchases at different stores to reach the limit. You'll receive a separate form at each store where you buy products. You can consult the national tax authorities about the applicable thresholds in a specific EU country. You will find the contact addresses of all national tax administrations in the VAT document in the European Union.

Example Bruce, who lives in Canada, has been on vacation in Italy for two weeks. Buy a designer suit at a VAT-free store on September 10. The lawsuit must leave the EU territory no later than December 31. The merchandise must accompany you when you leave the EU. You cannot buy products exempt from VAT if, for whatever reason, you cannot or do not want to take them with you when you leave the EU. In addition, you should be prepared to show those products to the customs officer, who will stamp your VAT refund form.

You can buy products without VAT even if you are going to visit other EU countries before finally returning home, as long as you leave the EU with the products within the established deadline. You have to have a customs agent stamp your documents at the point of departure from the EU, not necessary in the same EU country where you bought them. Freight arriving by train to be transported in transit through the United States from one foreign country to another; and cargo arriving by train to be transported across the United States from one point to another in the same foreign country are subject to the requirement to file electronic information for incoming cargo in advance according to paragraph (a) of this section.

Heidi Longbotham
Heidi Longbotham

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