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Russia greenlights tax-free shopping for foreign citizens

The Federal Customs Service will organize 14 refund offices at international airports in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi

MOSCOW, January 1. /TASS/. The law on VAT (value-added tax) refunds for purchases made by foreign citizens in Russia comes into force on January 1.

The State Duma (lower house of parliament) adopted this law in mid-November and President Vladimir Putin signed it on November 27

Some provisions of this law come into force on January 1, 2018 and others on October 1, 2018.

Under the new legislation, citizens of countries not belonging to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) can refund VAT paid on the territory of the Russian Federation. The law also sets a zero VAT rate for services provided to foreign citizens by Russian companies, and defines a package of documents to be provided to tax authorities to confirm the viability of the use of the zero VAT tax.

The minimum purchase of non-food goods from which foreign nationals can recover VAT is 10,000 rubles ($155).

The Federal Customs Service will organize 14 refund offices at international airports in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Sochi.

Oleg Safonov, the head of the Federal Tourism Agency, said earlier that this system’s launch would boost tourist flow to Russia.

“We consider it very important and timely. It will be crucial for the development of incoming tourism,” he said.

Safonov noted the tax-free system would attract more visitors from China, Europe and America.