International tourists to Shanghai and Beijing are now able to enjoy tax refunds on goods purchased while on vacation. A new law, officiated on July 1, offers a rebate of up to 11% on consumer goods purchased at designated department stores in China’s most iconic megacities.
Eighty-six stores in Beijing and twenty-seven in Shanghai have qualified for the tax refund program, which covers all kinds of goods popular with overseas travelers, such as souvenirs, silk, porcelain, antiques and traditional Chinese medicine. The tax refunds can be claimed at Beijing International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao and Pudong airports upon departure. Those who apply have the choice to receive their refund in cash or have it transferred to their bank account.
The minimum spend necessary to get a tax refund is RMB 500 (around $80 USD) at one store in one day. The purchase must have been made within 90 days of departure, and the visitor must not have exceeded a stay of 183 consecutive days in China.
This new regulation follows a pilot tax refund program introduced in 2011 to Hainan Province in Southern China, however there are a number of significant improvements. The minimum purchase value of RMB 800 has been dropped to RMB 500, and the previous list of only 324 approved items has now been expanded to cover all items, except those prohibited by law from being taken overseas.
The new tax refund regulations, along with the 72-hour transit visa, are both part of wider government initiatives aimed at making China a more accessible and attractive tourism destination.
How to apply for your tax refund
- 1. Check in for flight
- 2. Take goods intended for tax refund, along with luggage, to Customs for application and verification. Goods must be accompanied with a completed refund application form and sales invoice from approved store.
- 3. Customs will sign and stamp refund application form upon verification. Luggage will be checked into the flight sorting system direct from the Customs counter.
- 4. Deliver application form with approved signature and stamp to the tax refund agency to claim money. Totals below RMB 10,000 can be claimed via cash or bank transfer. Totals exceeding RMB 10,000 will be refunded via bank transfer.
Ready to plan your China shopping spree? Have a look at our journey to Shanghai: