Planning on buying something on your trip to South Korea?
Understanding the tax refund system in Seoul will help you get some of your hard-earned money back!
Korean tax refunds allow foreign tourists visiting Korea for less than 3 months to get a refund on VAT (value added tax) when purchasing goods or services worth over 30,000 KRW (22 USD) but under 5 million KRW (3,700 USD).
For more info on how to get a tax refund in Korea, check out the article below.
There are three ways to get a Korean tax refund:
Immediate Tax Refund
This is my favorite and easiest way to get a tax refund on lower cost items. Bring your passport when you go shopping and you can get an immediate tax refund when purchasing goods with VAT!
· A purchase should be at least 30,000 won but under 500,000 won.
· Total amount of purchases should be under 2,500,000 won for the duration of your trip.
Downtown Tax Refund
This is another great way to get your refund without waiting in long lines at the airport.
You can obtain immediate cash refunds at tax refund booths located in major cities. To use get a tax refund at these booths, you need to present your purchased items, VAT refund receipt, passport, and an international credit card.
To be eligible, your total purchases must be less than 6,000,000 won throughout your entire trip. After receiving your refund, declare it at the customs office or designated refund counter at the airport before your flight.
Tax refund booths in the city only provide refunds for products from their respective companies, while tax refund counters at airports or ports offer refunds for all purchases that qualify.
At Incheon Airport
This is the best way to get a refund if you plan on buying big ticket items or getting expensive medical treatments such as cosmetic surgery.
There’s no limit on the purchase amount during your stay for this method. You can use either the tax refund counter or a kiosk.
If the tax refund counter is closed and kiosks aren’t working, you can provide the details of the person who will receive the tax refund on the receipt and deposit it in the designated box on-site.
If the tax refund request goes through, the refunded amount will be automatically credited to your international credit card, Alipay, or WeChat Pay within 1 to 2 months.
- The process may vary depending on the airport or passenger port terminal; it’s a good idea to check with on-site staff.
- Obtain your boarding pass but don’t check in your baggage; make sure you have the VAT refund receipts.
- Present the purchased goods and VAT refund receipts to the customs officer to get the Customs Export Approval stamp on the receipts.
- Head to the oversized baggage counter in the check-in area to check in your luggage. There sometimes is a long line so make sure you get to the airport early.
- Head to a nearby tax refund counter or kiosk machine with your passport and tax refund receipt. Actual cash refunds can be received in the Duty-Free Zone after undergoing security inspection and screening.
There’s technically a fourth way to get a tax refund in Korea by mail. I don’t recommend this as it has a low chance of success and you’ll be out of the country. You can fill out a tax refund application for manual processing and get refunded.
I’ve never heard of anyone successfully doing this, but anything is possible if you believe.
Tax refund counter locations
- Terminal 1: 3F Duty Free Zone near Gate 28
- Terminal 2: 3F Check-in counters D & E / 3F Duty Free Zone near Gate 253
Tax refund kiosk machine locations
- Terminal 1: 3F Concourse near the central pharmacy / 3F Duty Free Zone near Gate 28
- Terminal 2: 3F Duty Free Zone near Gates 250 & 253
Who is eligible for Korean tax refunds?
- Foreign tourists who have stayed in Korea for less than 6 months
- Koreans who have stayed in Korea for less than 3 months, and have lived overseas for over 2 years
Everyone must make a minimum purchase of 30,000 won within 3 months of departure.
What items and services qualify?
Just look for the any of the symbols below!