Korea’s Tax Free System can largely be divided into “Duty Free” and “Tax Refund.” In duty free shops, no tax is applied to the price of the item, including Value Added Tax (VAT) and Individual Consumption Tax. Duty free stores are generally operated by large department store chains, including Lotte, Shilla and Shinsegae among others, and are located within airports and downtown.
In comparison, tax refund is a system where shoppers buy items at full price, including tax, then apply for a refund on the paid tax before leaving the country. In general, tax refunds can be received by submitting the applicable receipts at a proper tax refund booth or kiosk before leaving the country. Since January 1, 2016, tourists have been able to effortlessly receive an immediate tax refund up to a certain limit when shopping at certified stores. Department stores and large supermarkets were the first to implement immediate tax refund system, which have now expanded to even smaller shops as well as select convenience stores.
Tax Refund Eligibility & Requirement
Non-Korean citizens: travelers staying in Korea for less than six months
Overseas Koreans: travelers staying in Korea for less than three months and have lived overseas for more than two years or hold a permanent residency in another country
To claim a tax refund, the item must be new and unused, cost 15,000 won or more and the shopper must leave the country within 3 months from the purchase date.
Before making your purchase, be sure to check that the retail business is a participating store of the certified tax refund brands. Shops with the refund service should have signs written “Tax Refund” and have “Tax Refund” indicated on their VAT refund receipts. Present your passport to the cashier upon payment.
If the store sign or receipt has one of the following certification marks with either “Tax free” or “Tax refund” written, you can claim your tax refund.
At airport and port terminals
There is no purchase amount limit during the stay, and tax refunds can be received at the tax refund counter or kiosk. If there is no tax refund counter or if it is closed, write the information of the person who will be receiving tax refund on the receipt and place it in the designated box on site. If the tax refund request is successfully processed, the amount will be refunded automatically to your international credit card, Alipay, or WeChat Pay within 1 to 2 months.
① Claim your boarding pass, but do not check-in your baggage and make sure to hold onto the VAT refund receipts.
② Show the purchased goods and VAT refund receipts to the customs officer and get the Customs Export Approval stamp on the receipts.
③ Proceed to the oversized baggage counter at the check-in area and check-in your luggage.
④ Proceed to a nearby tax refund counter or kiosk machine with your passport and tax refund receipt. Actual cash refund can be received in the Duty Free Zone after security inspection and screening.
Tax refund counters
Tax refund kiosk machines
** As locations may change, travelers are advised to check the locations upon arrival at the airport.
At downtown tax refund booths
You can receive either credit card refund, including Alipay and WeChat Pay, or immediate cash refund at tax refund booths in major city downtowns. To receive tax refund at a downtown refund booth, present your purchased goods, VAT refund receipt, passport, and international credit card. You can claim a tax refund for purchases that do not exceed 6,000,000 won per receipt. Once you get your refund, you must report it to the customs office or designated refund counter at the airport upon departure. Tax refund booths in the city downtown only offer refunds offered by their respective company. Tax refund counters in the airport or port offer tax refunds for purchases regardless of the company.
As the refund amount and period may vary depending on the credit card, travelers are advised to check with their credit card company before processing.
Travelers who are eligible for tax refund can also receive immediate tax refund at select duty free shops. Immediate tax refund service has its own limitations: the amount of a single payment must be at least 15,000 won but less than 1,000,000 won, and the traveler must have spent no more than 5,000,000 won during the whole trip. Present your passport upon making your purchase.
Global Blue: www.globalblue.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Indonesian, German, French, Portuguese)
GLOBAL TAX FREE: web.gtfetrs.com (Korean, English, Chinese)
Easy Tax Refund: www.easytaxrefund.co.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
CubeRefund: www.cuberefund.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
eTAX FREE: www.etax-free.com (Korean only)
This page was last updated on January 9, 2024 and therefore information may differ from what is presented here.
1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)