Don’t get caught out by changes to foreign VAT\GST rates

October 16, 2019

Requesting a foreign VAT\GST refund is fraught with challenges. It begins with making sure that all the employees in your company have entered the VAT\GST information for their expenses into your expense software correctly. Additionally, there’s no standard formatting for foreign VAT\GST receipts, so you’ll have to put in time and energy working out exactly how much VAT\GST was paid and what it was paid for, so that you can verify that all the VAT\GST was paid correctly. On top of that, all too many VAT\GST receipts are likely to be torn, stained, crumpled, or all the above – making deciphering them a challenge in and of itself.

But just to make VAT\GST reclaim even harder, foreign VAT\GST rates don’t stay the same forever. If your company’s employees are involved in a lot of business travel, it’s very likely that a number of VAT\GST rates have changed just during the past financial year. It’s vital for you to keep on top of all changes to both standard and reduced foreign VAT\GST rates, so that you can make sure that your VAT\GST refund requests are always correct.

Changes to Foreign VAT\GST Rates in 2019

During 2019, several countries approved changes to their VAT\GST rates. Sometimes, these are changes that apply across the board to all items, but some countries have adjusted VAT\GST rates only on certain items, making it even more complicated to keep track of the correct rates for your VAT\GST refund. Here are some of the main foreign VAT\GST rate changes that you need to know.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has introduced a number of new VAT\GST rates, but just to keep you on your toes, they only apply to some items. These items have been reduced from the standard rate of 21% to the new reduced rate of 10%:

  • Repairs or changes to clothing, footwear, and other leather goods
  • Repairs and maintenance of bicycles
  • Any services provided by hairdressers and barbers

For these items, the reduced VAT\GST rate has changed from 15% to 10%:

  • Catering and soft drinks services


In Hungary, the government has agreed to reduce VAT\GST on hotel rooms, Airbnb-style short-term accommodation, and Bed and Breakfast accommodation from 18% to 5%, beginning in 2020.


Greece has seen not just one, but two waves of changes to foreign VAT\GST rates during 2019, many of which are likely to affect business travellers. First of all, in May 2019, VAT\GST rates were reduced from 24% to 13% for many food and drink services like catering services, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants. Unfortunately, VAT\GST charged on coffee served in any of these places is remaining at 24%.

In July 2019, the government announced another set of changes. Standard VAT\GST rates will drop from 24% to 22% across the board over the next two years, and the reduced rate will decrease from 13% to 11% as well. The Greek government also announced an exemption on VAT\GST for all construction services over a 3 year period.


During 2019, China introduced a number of changes to their VAT\GST regulations. Among the most notable are:

  • Standard VAT\GST rates were reduced from 16% to 13%, and reduced VAT\GST rates dropped from 10% to 9%.
  • Business travellers in certain industries can reduce their VAT\GST rates by an extra 10%, based on deductible input VAT\GST, for:
    • Accommodation services
    • Travel and entertainment
    • Postal and telecommunications
    • Logistics
    • IT services
    • Sporting, cultural, and creative services


In Slovakia, the foreign VAT\GST rate on hotel rooms and other similar short-term accommodation dropped to 10%.


Although most of the changes to VAT\GST rates have been reductions, it’s important to note that a few countries have raised VAT\GST rates on some items. Most notably, Ireland has raised VAT\GST on tourism services to 13.5%.

The Netherlands

Similarly, in the Netherlands the reduced VAT\GST rate has been raised to 9% on all relevant items.\


In Russia, the standard VAT\GST rate increased, from 18% to 20%, and the reduced VAT\GST rate also rose, from 15.25% to 16.67%

Changes to foreign VAT\GST rates make it even harder to complete your foreign VAT\GST refund request correctly, but you can simplify it when you use the right tools. For all you need to know about filing foreign and local VAT\GST reclaim in the EU and other countries around the world, download our eBook.

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