Visa, Customs and Tax Refund
Before visiting Brussels, obviously you need to check about visa requirements and customs information. Tax refund is also a pretty interesting matter, should you want to go back home with spared money.
Belgium is one of the 25 countries members of the so called "Schengen area" allowing citizens of these countries to travel in the Schengen area without visa and passport. Only an ID is required. A part of Belgium, the 25 countries are: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Lithuania, Leetonia, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia. UK and Ireland are not member of the Shengen area.
Citizens of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand need only a valid passport for a visit of less than 3 months to Belgium. However as visa legislation may vary, in any case (and of course if you are not a citizen of a country member of the Schengen area), we strongly recommend you ask to your nearest Belgian embassy or consulate.
It’s important to be aware about what you are allowed to bring and in which quantity. First of all, you need more than 17 years old to bring items like tobacco or alcohol. Should you older than 17, you need to declare such items. Please note that visitors are allowed to import without any duty 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 gr of tobacco, 2 liters of non-sparkling wine, 50 ml of perfume. Pay attention to the following: Belgian Law is very strict about drugs: never bring drugs in or out the country.
How to get back 21% (VAT applicable on goods) on all your purchases ?
Saving money before returning home is not so easy but can be a good deal should you spend a lot of money. In Brussels, the minimum spending requested is 125 eur. To get back the VAT of 21%, ensure you have saved cash receipts of all your purchases. Then, two procedures depending on whether you carry the goods in your hold luggage or in your hand luggage.
Goods contained in the hold luggage:
Before checking in your luggage, contact the customs export office in the departure are (to the right from passport control when going towards gates B)
You will have to present:your passport, your airline ticket, the invoice or any other appropriate document (global refund cheque), the goods for which the VAT refund is requested
After inspection by the Customs export officer, pack the goods in your hold luggage and have it immediately checked in by theairline .
Having checked in your luggage, return to the Customs export officer with your boarding pass, your airline ticket and the baggage labels.
Your documents will then be stamped by Customs and returned to you
Goods contained in the hand luggage:
a) you are leaving the European Union directly from Brussels Airport
After you have checked in and passed passport control (Federal Police), go with your hand luggage to the Customs export office in the departure area (see above). There you present the same documents and goods as described under "1. Goods contained in the hold luggage"
b) you are leaving the European Union via another community airport:
You have to complete the necessary formalities at the Customs office at the transit airport from where you leave the European Union.
VAT refund can be requested only by travelers whose domicile or habitual place of residence is not situated within the European Union and only for goods without business or commercial nature.