China’s Guangdong Province to issue VAT refunds to foreign tourists


GUANGDONG, China – Starting 1st July, 2016, Guangdong Province (excluding Shenzhen City) will issue VAT refunds to overseas tourists in order to maintain the ongoing growth in Chinese tourism. VAT refunds can be obtained for goods purchased in tax-free shops within designated departure ports.

An overseas tourist refers to either a foreign tourist or a visitor from Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan who stays in China for less than 183 days. Tourists can verify their overseas status with a passport, Exit-Entry permit or Mainland Travel permit. Despite overall growth, the number of foreign tourists to China hit a slight decrease (2.5%) in 2015. The VAT refund scheme aims to combat this drop and stir positive growth in the number of visitors coming from outside of China.

The 11% VAT rebate must be claimed through a tax-refunding agency (2% fee), giving shoppers a total 9% refund. The minimum spend is RMB 500 (approximately USD 75), which must be spent in a single shop on the same day, within 90 days prior to the tourist’s departure date.

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Guangzhou Nansha Port and Zhuhai’s Jiuzhou Port are the three ports currently covered by the scheme. There are plans to extend the policy to additional departure ports in the future.

The tourist should request an Overseas Tourists Shopping Tax Refund Form and VAT invoice when purchasing the goods, and declare them at customs along with these documents upon departure. If approved, customs will stamp the form and the tourist can take this to the departure port’s tax refund agency.

The tourist will be expected to provide valid identification along with the stamped Tax Refund Form and VAT invoice. Smaller refunds (RMB 10 000 or less) will be given in cash or via bank transfer, with refunds greater than RMB 10 000 only via bank transfer.

As one of the most visited countries in the world, China hosted over 133 million overseas visitors in 2015 (4.1% growth from 2014). Guangdong is one of China’s most populous provinces and boasts golden beaches and picturesque mountain views along the country’s southern coast. Its capital city Guangzhou is home to the annual Canton Fair, and major city Shenzhen is hailed as the Silicon Valley of China.