We’ve been around places, but till date, Korea’s tax refund system is still one of the most complicating and least user/time friendly systems we’ve come across. For one, Korea actually has 3 different companies handling their Tax refund, namely Global tax Free (Orange logo), Global Blue (Blue Logo) and KT tourist, which only triples the processes & complications.
There was once when we chanced upon even stewardess at the airport, who fly so frequently, who were not quite sure what to do. So while we have never blogged about doing Tax refunds thus far in our Travel Blog, we thought this information would come extremely useful for those visiting this amazing shopping land.
It took us quite some time to figure it out, but here it is, summarized into 8 steps
1) The Cashier (At the shop itself)
Most shops, except for street stalls, allow for Tax refund. However, they would require you to spend a certain minimum amount (depending on the company) in order for you to claim your refund. So it’s encouraged that you do your shopping all at one go, and not buy a facemask today and another moisturizer tomorrow. If you are traveling in a group, you can also try and combine purchases in order to hit the minimum sum. Once you do, let the cashier know that you would like to do a tax refund and hand him/her your passport. They would go ahead and scan it in and print out a receipt that most would insert into an envelope before passing it to you. Keep these envelopes/receipts.
1a) *OPTIONAL Shopping center’s Tax refund counter (At the Shopping Mall
This part is totally optional and you’ll see why as we go along. Most shopping centers have this dedicated “tax refund” counters and space, where you can bring your receipts to and collect your cash or credit card refund from. However, the issue comes when, as mentioned, there are 3 different companies handling the Tax refund.
At times, you might end up with receipts from 3 different tax companies but most tax refund counters in the shopping mall only serve one particular company, so you would still have to do the rest of the refunds at the airport.
Plus, there would be times when you purchase from stand alone stalls outside shopping malls which don’t have such a counter. So you’ll probably have to queue for the counter at the airport again.
I.E you head to Shopping Mall X and purchase stuff from stall A and Stall B. Stall A’s tax is handled by Global tax Free and Stall B by Global blue. You head to the mall’s tax refund counter and they only serve Global Tax so you would have to do the Global blue bit at the airport anyway. After leaving shopping mall X, you head to the streets and walk into a stand alone stall C which tax is handled by Global tax refund. So you’ll have to queue for the Global tax refund counter again at the airport.
Hence, we generally save time and just do everything at the airport.
2) Filling in your particulars (Anywhere)
The receipts that are provided would have a section for you to fill up your particulars with. Remember to fill them up at a time of your convenience, but we generally suggest doing them before you reach the airport so you would have less things on your mind.
3) Check in at the airport (Airport)
Once you’ve taken all the receipts from all the different shops you purchase from, the next part is done at the airport itself. But before you rush to the Tax refund counter, do your check in first. Just remember to tell the lady that you have tax refund goods in your luggage. She would tag your luggage and only take in bags/luggage without tax refund goods in them.
4) Tax refund counter (pre-immigration)
With your bags and luggage, head to the tax refund counter just before you clear immigration. Hand all your receipts you’ve collected to the officer on duty. He/she would then help you stamp your receipts and would have the right to check your luggage for all the goods purchase if need be.
5) Check in your luggage (pre-immigration)
Once the officer has helped you stamped all your receipts, re-queue at the custom declaration counter right beside to check in your luggage (refer to picture under point 4). Once you are done with that, you are ready to clear immigrations!
*You might notice people scanning at a self Kt-tourist kiosk beside these counters, do not fret. These kiosk are located inside immigration as well and we generally like to do them when we are inside. You would see why in point 8.
6) Tax Refund counter – Global Tax Free (Post-Immigration)
Now that your receipts are all stamped, you are now ready to finally do the actual refund bit and get back your money. Look for the tax refund counter post immigration and queue up for the Global Tax Free counter. If possible, sort out your receipts by the 3 tax companies (Global Tax Free, Kt-Tourist, Global Blue). If you can’t it’s alright, there’s usually a staff to help you do that as you queue. Hand all the Global tax free receipts to the counter staff and claim your refunds via Cash or credit for your Global tax free receipts.
7) Tax Refund counter – Global Blue (Post-Immigration)
Once you’re done, re-queue at the Global Blue counter right beside it and do the same. Hand your Global blue receipts to the counter staff and get your refund via cash or credit for your Global Blue receipts
8) Self Service Kiosk- KT Tourist (Post Immigration)
Once you are done with getting back your money for the two other companies, the KT Tourist self-service kiosk is located diagonally opposite. Bring your remaining receipts from KT tourist there. Scan your passport and follow the instructions on the screen to scan your receipts. In some cases, you would get your cash refund immediately.
In some cases, not all your receipts are approved at one go. Receipts with higher value of refund might take more time for approval and the screen will prompt “please approach tax officer for verification“. So here’s the benefit of doing it post immigration as compared to the kiosk before immigration (point 5). The self service kiosk post immigration has a custom counter right beside the kiosk and you can approach the staff on duty if such a notice came up and/or ask them to approve it immediately so you wouldn’t have to stand around for over 5 mins just waiting.
We understand that even our 8 steps guide might be a little too complicating, but that’s only cause the system itself really is that complicating. If you have any other questions about their Tax Refund you feel we can help you with. Do leave your questions in the comments below and we will try our best to answer you if we can 🙂