Colombia’s IVA Tax & How to claim it back

So you’ve done some shopping in Colombia from retailers like Dr Martens, Forever 21, Zara or brought some sparkling new jewellery? If you are a Foreign tourist who doesn’t reside in Colombia, then YOU have the right to claim 100% IVA tax back from your goods purchased in Colombia. 

Currently, the IVA Tax is at 19% and Colombia is allowing tax refunds for foreigners as they want to boost tourism. I would say this is a great tactic to see an increase in travellers, holiday makers and help boost the economy. I just wished other countries in South America would do this! 

It’s a great cost saving but there are some rules… I’ve quickly pointed out the below for you to be aware of: 

  1. You need to have a full transaction receipt and ALL purchases must be done by a card with your name (as they will cross check this) and in person. You cannot claim for online or cash transactions.  
  1. There is a minimum and maximum purchase amount that you can claim back. The UVT (Unidades de Valor Tributario) for 2019 is 34,270 COP x 10 (Colombia sets the rules) = 342,700 COP minimum amount including VAT that you can submit a claim for. The maximum is 100 times the 34,270 = 3,427,000 COP. You will not be able to claim any further than this. 
  1. You can claim your VAT back at the airport – just look or ask for the ‘DIAN Tax Office’. You will need to fill out a form and they will ask to see the items you have purchased with tags (they are very particular and cross check most things). I would suggest you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to do this and use the time to repack your bags (if needed).
  2. The refund process time can take up to 3 months but as a precaution, make sure you take photos of all your receipts and your application form so if you need to contact them – you have the evidence. 

The following goods are eligible for the IVA tax refund (this may be subject to change):

  • Clothing
  • Compact discs
  • Linens and underwear
  • Emeralds
  • Footwear
  • Handicrafts
  • Appliances
  • Perfumes
  • Leather Products
  • Toys
  • General jewellery (not including watches)
  • Hardware items

You cannot get an IVA tax refund for many items including:

  • Alcohol
  • Entertainment costs
  • Food (restaurant or groceries)
  • Lodging
  • Medical services
  • Technology items like laptops and phones
  • Watches

Currently, the Colombian IVA is set at 19% so if you can claim back – it’s a good cost saving that you’ll see again in the a few months and dosh for you to put towards your next trip!

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