Most goods in Ireland carry a hefty surcharge of 23% Value Added Tax (VAT). Thus goods that would be actually priced at 100 will cost you 123. Or, to reverse the process, without the added VAT a 100 souvenir would only set you back by 81.30.
The good news is that any goods purchased by non-EU visitors and taken out of the country within three months may qualify for a VAT refund. To avail yourself of this you need to get a detailed receipt showing name, address and the VAT paid. Take these to the Customs office at your port of exit, have them stamped and the goods expected. These checked receipts can then be sent to the store for a refund of the VAT.
The use of a VAT Refund Agency is much more comfortable. They will act as an intermediary between the customer, the seller and the authorities. For a (reasonable) charge these agencies either
- provide for an immediate tax-free sale at the point of purchase or
- refund the VAT paid at the airport or
- refund the VAT paid later (by cheque or credit card transfer).
Please note that no VAT is paid on books and children's clothing or footwear. And unfortunately VAT on services cannot be reclaimed.
On the bonus side - many services directly related to the tourism and hospitality industry now enjoy a reduced VAT rate.