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Italy entitles visitors to get VAT refunds for the goods above €154.94 purchased in a single receipt (other EU countries have different amount). Merchants who deal with tourists would often issue VAT refund receipts (passport required) and to qualify for the refund, visitors would need to get the Customs’ stamp on the receipt when they are departing the country.
Being Italy, we weren’t quite sure how easy the process will be. We decided to get to the airport early and have plenty of time to get our money back.
First we had to locate the Customs. It was located at the far end of the terminal (coming from Malpensa Express station, turn right after entering terminal proper and walk all the way to the end) and luckily for us there was no queue.
One had to present the purchases and the VAT refund receipts in order to get the stamps. However the customs official didn’t even bother to look inside my paper bag and simply stamped the receipt.
Next was getting the refunds. There are two main operators: Global Blue and Premier Tax Free. Depending on which operator that the merchants use (Prada uses Global Blue), one had to get the refund from the operator. Both operators are within steps of the Customs’ counter in MXP.
The staff at the Global Blue counter knew the drill very well. She asked if I prefer cash or credit to my credit card. Cash please, thank you. The total processing time from getting the customs stamp to getting my cash back took probably twenty minutes max.
At the counters, there were signs reminding the passengers to get their tax refunds first before checking the items in. I suspect that the Chinese and Russians are among the biggest shoppers.
We managed to find some seats until we went to queue up at the check-in. MXP didn’t seem to have much dining or shopping options land-side.
Due to the strike, the ground staff at MXP would only start working at 6pm. Not knowing that, we queued up at the Swiss counter an hour early, eager to be relieved of our backpacks. Many people were in the queue as well.
There was a Swiss flight departing at 6.55pm and the ground staff rushed to check them in first, even if we were ahead in the queue. It was kinda annoying that we were the ones affected due to the transport workers’ decision to strike. I didn’t think that the strike achieved any aim except that it inconvenienced the travelers. As much as I tried to like Italy, I am definitely not a fan of this country after this visit.
Seen on the tarmac:-
The air-side was as dire as the land-side. There was only one dining option and we grabbed a sandwich there.
We were glad when boarding commenced. So long Italy. You won’t be missed.