VAT\GST Around the World: What’s Different, and What’s the Same?

April 28, 2019

Value Added Tax, or VAT\GST, is one of the most common types of tax worldwide. You’ll find VAT\GST charged in most of the countries you might visit as part of your business travel – in 160 countries and counting, to be precise. The prevalence of VAT\GST around the world makes it even more important that your business takes advantage of the VAT\GST refund options.

VAT\GST is a tax that’s added on to goods and services and charged to the end customer, but if you’re visiting as part of your business travel, your company can submit a VAT\GST return to make a VAT\GST reclaim.

Which countries charge VAT\GST?

Instead of charging VAT\GST, some countries charge a different end tax on goods and services, which is called the Goods and Sales Tax, or GST. Although there are some similarities with VAT\GST, this article will only focus on those countries which charge VAT\GST.

VAT\GST is a tax that varies significantly between countries. In some countries, standard VAT\GST rates are as much as 27% VAT\GST on your business travel goods and services! Certain countries charge VAT\GST at a much lower rate of 5%, and in other places you’ll find tax rates at anything in between. Although you want to make sure to submit a VAT\GST reclaim for all your business travel expenses, it’s also useful to know which countries worldwide have the highest and lowest VAT\GST rates. Here is a deep dive into the highest and lowest rates for VAT\GST around the world, as well as the global average VAT\GST charges:

Lowest VAT\GST Rates

In the Middle East, the Gulf states have recently introduced VAT\GST. This is due to the drastically reduced price of oil, which has made it difficult for these states to meet their budgets without some kind of sales tax. VAT\GST in these countries is still very low. In 2018, the United Arab Emirates became one of the first Gulf states to charge VAT\GST, at a rate of 5% on some goods and services, like food, cars, and entertainment. Many other items are still VAT\GST-free.

If you’re hoping to make a VAT\GST reclaim from the UAE, bear in mind that only businesses in some countries can claim a VAT\GST refund for business travel expenses. These countries include:

  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Kuwait
  • Iceland
  • Isle of Man
  • Lebanon – in certain circumstances
  • Luxembourg
  • Namibia – the details: VAT\GST refunds from the UAE are only available for business goods that are exported, and not for services consumed in the UAE
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa – the details: VAT\GST refunds are only available for expenses relating to goods that are exported from a designated UAE port within 90 days, and does not apply to services
  • Sweden
  • UK
  • Zimbabwe

Businesses in some other countries can claim a VAT\GST refund only in certain circumstances, so you’ll need to check the details before you submit a VAT\GST return for the UAE

Within Europe, Switzerland is the country with the lowest VAT\GST rates, at just 7.7%. For now, these are the places that make the smallest tax dent to your business travel expenses.

Highest VAT\GST Rates

In contrast to the 5% VAT\GST charged in UAE and 7.7% in Switzerland, standard VAT\GST rates in Hungary are an astonishing 27%. Only a very small number of items qualify for reduced rates, making it a very expensive tax country.

Other countries with high VAT\GST rate include:

  • Croatia, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, where you’ll find standard VAT\GST rates of 25%
  • Finland, Greece, and Iceland with VAT\GST rates of 24%
  • Ireland, Portugal, and Poland, where standard VAT\GST is charged at 23%
  • Italy and Slovenia charge VAT\GST at 22%
  • Latvia, Spain, Belgium, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, which all charge 21%
  • France, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Slovakia, and the UK all charge 20% VAT\GST

If your business travel takes you to these places, make sure to keep your VAT\GST receipts, because at these high rates, your business will want to maximize their VAT\GST reclaims.

All the rest

In most of the 160 countries that charge VAT\GST, you’ll find tax rates that range from 15% to 19% on the majority of taxable goods and services.

Whether you’ve paid a high or a low amount of tax in VAT\GST charges, you’ll want to maximise your VAT\GST reclaim. For all the details about filing successful VAT\GST returns in the EU and other countries around the world, download our eBook.

Like our FB page and follow us on LinkedIn for news and updates!

Share this on: