It's such a fuss to collect tax rebate if you make purchases in an EU country but leave from a non-EU country like what we did. I made purchases in Milan, Italy (EU) but we were to fly back from Zurich, Switzerland (non-EU) to Singapore. When you do that, you need to get a custom stamp at the last EU point of departure. No custom stamp = no refund! Reach Switzerland = too late!
If you travel by plane from Milan to Zurich, that's not a problem cos you can get the custom stamp from Milan airport. Unfortunately, we were going to travel from Milan to Chur in Switzerland via Tirano. So we had a hard time figuring out where to get the custom stamp because we had no idea where the border is! The worse part is that the Italians themselves have no clue! Is it at Milan? Is it between Milan and Tirano? Is it between Tirano n Chur?
Here are the versions we got:
1. Ferragamo salesgirl
Just do it at Zurich airport
This is the biggest mistake! Once you reach Zurich, it's too late!
2. Girl at tax-refund counter in La Rinascente shopping mall beside Duomo Cathedral
Get on the train, tell conductor we need the stamp and the officer will get on at Como Chiasso to give it to us.
She got it totally wrong! Cos that's the wrong border! That's if you go from Milan to Zurich directly but we are not going that way!
She also told us that although Tirano is in Italy, it's not part of EU so we have to get the stamp somewhere in between Milan and Tirano which she insisted is Como Chiasso -.- this is sooooo wrong!
3. Milan station officer
She said "I don't know!"
Great... But it's at least better than saying the wrong thing...
4. Hotel concierge
Get the stamp from Milan station.
This is also totally wrong -.- cos Milan is not the last EU departure point -.-
So we scoured the Internet and found some suggestions. I prayed really hard, couldn't eat couldn't sleep... Cos some of the purchases were made on behalf of my colleagues. If i don't get the refund, its fine but i feel bad towards them :(
Here is the correct way to claim tax if you go buy from Milan and then travel to Chur in Switzerland via Tirano onboard the Bernina Express i.e. You travel from Milan to Tirano on trenitalia then from Tirano to Chur on Bernina Express.
From Milan to Tirano is about 2.5h. You get off the train from the Italian side
and cross over to the Swiss side (they are just side by side). The customs office is in the Swiss ticket building.
Show your tax-refund forms and passport. Be prepared to show your purchases (read my precious post "You is crazy"). Get the stamp, fill in your credit card info (if you have not already got it in cash) n all relevant info, seal the envelope and mail it in the red postal box in front of the tourist info office.
This is so inconvenient! Pui! In Japan, they just charge me the tax-free price right away!