Tax Free System
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. These 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 the proper tax refund booth when leaving the country. However, from January 1, 2016, tourists can effortlessly receive an immediate tax refund up to a certain limit when shopping at certified Tax Free stores. Department stores and large supermarkets were the first to implement immediate tax refund system, which have now expanded to even smaller shops that mostly cater to tourists.