Cork City

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Practical Guide

Customs & Vat

Ireland's VAT rate (sales tax) currently stands at 23% on retail purchases.

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Retail Export Scheme

Visitors to Ireland from outside the European Union (EU) can buy goods in Ireland to take home with them and benefit from tax relief. Tax relief is not allowed on services, for example, hotel accommodation, meals or car hire.

The Retail Export Scheme operates in two ways.

  • The tourist pays Value-Added Tax (VAT) when making purchases and subsequently gets a refund from the relevant retailer or refund agency. If the retailer charges VAT to the tourist, he or she will subsequently refund it to the tourist when he or she receives documentary proof that the good or goods have been exported.

  • In certain retail outlets, the goods are sold tax-free at the point of sale with or without the involvement of a refund agency. The goods must be paid for by credit card. If the goods are sold tax-free without the involvement of a refund agency, the retailer must then rely on the tourist to send back documentary proof of export (the invoice stamped by Customs), otherwise, the retailer will be liable to VAT on the sale in question. If the goods are sold tax-free with the involvement of a refund agency, the tourist fills out a refund voucher, gets the voucher stamped by Customs and returns it to the refund agency. If the invoice or voucher is not returned by the tourist, the retailer or refund agency charges the VAT on the goods bought to the tourist's credit card account.

Tax relief on purchases effectively means a reduction of 17.36% on the normal sale price of goods.

Tax relief for EU residents

Tax relief can also be given to EU residents who can provide evidence that they are going to live outside the EU for a period of at least one year.

Goods that have been exported directly by retailers

In addition to the Retail Export Scheme, retailers can also send directly to the tourist's home (outside the EU only) goods ordered or purchased by them. Where this takes place, no tax is payable by the tourist.

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