Originally Posted by RedStripe
Also, does anyone know about the foreign sales tax/value added taxes being able to be reimbursed to foreign nationals. For example, when I go to Toronto and make large purchases, I usually fill out... what is it, a duties card?... or something they give me on the airplane or a duty-free shop where I can get the sales taxes I paid on merchandise purchases refunded to me by the Canadian government because I'm a US citizen. Has anyone had experience with this in Europe - Germany, Italy, France, UK, etc.?
I was afraid that the goods I'm looking for here are just as or more expensive. I was hoping that, for example, a favorite pair of Italian shoes which cost $350 at Neiman Marcus or a boutique in the US would cost less in Europe. Wouldn't this make sense since you're closer to the country of origin? I guess I should know better... probably these brands need to maintain a certain level of global "exclusitivity" by making prices consistent everywhere. Well, if anyone knows any great places that gives great value if you're looking to pick up Hermes ties or Prada shoes and the like, please give me a shout out! Thanks.
Yes, there is a VAT (Value Added Tax) form. However, I was a military dependent when I lived in Europe so I'm not sure if civilians can use the form or not. My guess would be that they could, you'd just have to find out how to get one or two of them. They're really only good for larger monetary purchases though.
If you have time, a quick jaunt to the Czech Republic and you could find good deals. Can't remember the name of the city, but we would go every so often. We'd be able to get Nikes that would originally be $90 (here in the US) for about $20. However, big namebrands like you're looking for probably won't be as cheap as you'd like them to be. Like others have said, since the Euro is higher than the dollar you'd be losing money.
Locally though, I'd suggest a trip to Heidelberg and Mannheim. I spent the best 6 years of my life there and the area is beautiful. There is a shopping mall (as close as you can get compared to a US mall) called the Rhein-Neckar Zentrum in Viernheim. Shopping in downtown Mannheim and downtown Heidelberg is especially good as well. Just use the strassenbahn; it's easy to get around.
Here is a quick site I found on the Rhein-Neckar Zentrum. Dont think it lists stores though. http://www.ece.de/de/shopping/center/rnv/rnv.jsp