Lebanon Businessnews News

VAT refund service set
to resume by Global Blue
Transactions will be in dollar
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Global Blue, which handles VAT refunds for tourists and Lebanese expatriates shopping on the local market, is scheduled to resume its operations after halting its activity since early 2023, said Joe Yacoub, Country Manager for Lebanon at the Switzerland-based company.

The company’s decision came after the Ministry of Finance (MoF) changed the reimbursement mechanism which was in lira and was done through MoF. Maria Nalbandian Head of the Legislation and Tax Policies Division at MoF’s VAT Directorate said that under the new mechanism foreign currencies, mainly dollars, will be used instead of lira and that Global Blue will deal directly with traders instead of passing through MoF. The period of the transaction has also been shortened to 15 days from 30 days.

Yacoub said that they will resume the VAT refund service within two weeks as they are now doing some testing of the new system which will be a fully online digital system. Around 600 local companies were part of Global Blue’s VAT refund network and their number has dropped to 318 companies with 1,200 points of sales at present due to the crisis. According to Yacoub, recovering the precrisis number of companies requires nearly five years as many of these businesses have closed.

Global Blue also plans to launch a marketing campaign targeting 250,000 tourists to inform them of the resumption of its activity.

Nicolas Chammas, Chairman of the Beirut Traders Association, said that in 2023 when the VAT refund system was halted, Lebanese expats and tourists from Egypt, Iraq, and Syria who used to shop in Lebanon spent EUR200 million ($216 million) in Europe and that the resumption of the VAT refund system will enable traders to recover 40 percent of their losses in the first year and 70 percent by the fifth year. He said that for each dollar of VAT refunded by MoF, $14 are injected in the economy and stimulate economic activity.

When leaving Lebanon, typically at the Beirut Airport, expats and tourists could get a VAT refund for goods they take with them to their country of residence. The minimum value of the invoice from one shop must be $100 to be eligible for the VAT refund.
Date Posted: May 30, 2024
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