I love shopping Spain!  My favorite things include leather shoes, purses and espadrilles.  On this trip I bought four pairs of shoes and one purse. Luckily knowing this was likely, I both left space in my luggage and brought my expandable medium size Away luggage.

I have never actually bothered to do VAT refunds anywhere. The idea of needing to get to the airport even earlier, wait in line, keep all of my receipts, fill out paperwork etc. just never seemed worth it.

That was likely based on an outdated misconception (at least according to my experience in Madrid).

For those of you who have had similar thoughts, I highly encourage that on your next trip to Spain, you do the VAT refund as it couldn’t have been easier.  Thank you for my friend, Paloma, for encouraging me to do it.

Below I will show you how easy it is.

  1. Bring your passport with you shopping because you will need it to request the special paper you will need later. One day I didn’t have mine but I did have a photo of it and that was sufficient.
  2. Before you make the purchase tell the clerk that you’d like to have the paperwork for the VAT refund. He/she will ask for your passport and give you a receipt with a barcode on it. Keep all of these together.  At one store instead of a paper she took my email and sent it that way.  It worked great.
  3. When you arrive at the airport, after you check in, before you go through security you will see a series of kiosks like those below.
  4. Go up to one, it will prompt you to scan the codes on each of your receipts (including the electronic version in email if you have one of those). They are now officially “stamped.”
  5. Proceed through security and go toward your departure gate. You will see (or ask at information) an “office” with a person working. Give them your receipts with the code (again including your electronic ones). They will likely ask you if you had them stamped. Of course you did.
  6. They will give you the money that represents the VAT you paid, less some commission they keep. I think it works out to you receive just over 10% of your purchase price. Depending upon how much you spent, it is definitely worth it.
  7. Enjoy your “free” euros on a glass of Rioja, jamón sandwich and take home the remainder.

I love walking everywhere in a new city.  On this trip, accompanied by Paloma, en route to a site visit at Rosewood Villa Magna, we passed through a neighborhood I love and I found a few of my new favorite boutiques:

Malababa – all Spanish made items

ROPACHICA – “just for girls” (ie women)

Sommet – I love their leather shoes, purses and wallets!

I’ve added these to my Madrid Destination Guide and map for your next trip to the city.  There are 70+ boutiques, art galleries and shops, plus recommended restaurants, cafes and places to see.  You are going to love it!  I highly suggest a visit to Madrid on your next European trip.

photo credit: Sommet

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