Foreigners can now enjoy tax-free shopping at Minsk’s State Department Store. Since October, stickers have been displayed at every cash desk, advertising VAT refunds for those visitors from outside the Customs Union.
By Olga Pasiyak
To claim a refund, customers must spend at least Br800,000 in one day (in France, the minimum spend is 175 Euros, while Lithuania allows refunds on purchases of just 60 Euros). An information centre on the ground floor has been set up to process the 15 percent VAT return.
Svetlana Pristupa, the Deputy Director for Trade Settlements at the State Department Store, explains that only a few people have used the service so far but that statistics will be available monthly, with the move sure to prove increasingly popular. The shop is now advertising the benefits to foreign guests, and by November 1st, three other department stores will have joined the system: TsUm (Central Universal Department Store); Na Nemige; and Belarus trading house. Beltamozhservice is also to follow suit, notes Tamara Tikhonova, who heads Minsk City Executive Committee’s Department of Trade Settlement for the Main Management of the Consumer Market.
The Ministry for Trade approved the innovation at major shops in September, joining almost 60 countries worldwide, who have been making tax refunds for some decades. The idea was first introduced in Belarus on January, 1st, 2013.