Saturday, August 31, 2013

[Jeju-do / Seoul, Korea] Tips on Tax Refund for Budget Travellers in Korea

Korea is a shopping paradise, especially to ladies.  Endless pretty shoes, gorgeous bags, cute cosmetics and delicious food seem to follow you wherever you are.  You just feel like buying the entire Korea back!  Practically, budget travellers like me cannot afford to buy anything and everything that I fancy.  Being a budget travellers mean we are interested to know money saving tips. 

One of the ways is to buy things from shops that offer Tax Refund!  The amazing thing in Korea is that MANY shops offer tax refund with a minimum spending of 30,000 won, including the regular cosmetics shops such as The Face Shop, Innisfree, pharmacies and household stores such as Olive Young, and of course, the big departmental stores!  There are 2 tax refund agents in Korea - Global Blue Tax Free and Global Tax Free.  Keep a lookout for these logos when you go shopping.

Tips to Note:

1.  At the payment counter, inform the staff that you would like to have the Tax Refund Receipt.  The staff will ask for your passport, enter your particulars into their system, print the tax refund receipt and pass you the tax refund envelop.  Keep your original receipts and tax refund receipt in the envelop.

2.  Pack those items that you seeking tax refund separately for easy of retrieval during inspection at the airport.  The airport staff may or may not ask to see the goods.  But you should be get ready for the goods to be inspected.  (Tips: For clothes, shoes, sunshades, watches, you might want to wear them to the airport!)

3.  Before departing for airport, fill in your particulars on the Tax Refund Receipts.  Some receipts may require you to fill in your credit card number.  That is because they may refund the tax via your credit card instead of cash.  But so far, I managed to get all tax refunds through cash instead of via credit card.

4.  Put all Tax Refund receipts under the respective agents within the same envelop, so that you need not carry so many duplicate envelops around.

5.  Upon arriving at the airport, go to your airline check-in counter.  For items that cannot be hand-carried on-board, you can pack them in your check-in luggage.  Inform the check-in agent that you have items for tax-refund.  After collecting your boarding pass, you will then bring your check-in luggage to the Tax Refund desk.

6.  At the Tax Refund desk, your passport, receipts and goods to the staff.  The staff will verify the tax-refund items, stamp on the receipts but no cash will be refunded at this point.  Your luggage together with the tax-free items will be checked-in there.  But of course, you can also choose to hand-carry the tax-refund items, if you prefer to do so.  Note that you should still hold-on to the receipts for the actual cash refund.

6.  After clearing the immigration, go to the Global Blue Tax Free and/or Global Tax Free counter for the refund.

Tax Refund Counter at Jeju Airport

The Tax Refund Counter is located near Entrance 5 at the Departure Level.  There are only 2 counters serving the entire airport, so it is better to be there early to beat the queue.  Not surprisingly, the directional sign is in Chinese because of the number of Chinese tourists visiting Jeju these days.

If your next destination is to another place in Korea, you will not get the tax refund then.  The airport staff will do a verification that they had seen the goods and hence, no need for a re-inspection when you are at the next airport in Korea.  However, you must keep the tax refund receipts and seek the refund before departing Korea.

Tax Refund Counter at Incheon Airport

Upon arriving at the Incheon Airport, go to the Tax Free Inspection Counter that is located Passenger Terminal, 3rd Floor, far end behind Check-in Counter J or Counter D near the immigration area.  The area is not very conspicuous and a little hidden.

After obtaining the clearance from the counter, you may proceed to Departure Immigration.  I would recommend that you use Immigration Gate 3, which is nearest to the Global Blue Tax Free and Global Tax Free counters.  After clearing the immigration, turn right and keep a lookout for Starbucks on the left-side.  The tax refund counters are around the corner.

There are 2 separate queues for Global Blue Tax Free and Global Tax Free.  If you are claiming for both, you will need to queue twice!  Be sure to factor in sufficient waiting time as the queue can get freaking long!  Some travellers had to give up on the wait since they have to catch the flight!  That's too bad.... Finally, the cash you receive will be in Korean won.  But of course, you can convert the money into your home country currency at the money changer.

Latest Update - Seek Tax Refunds at 6 locations in downtown Seoul!

Starting from 30 Aug, besides seeking the refund at the airports, you can now get the refunds from 6 locations in Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Sinchon.  Here are the details.

Global Blue Tax Free
1.  Woori Bank - Myeongdong Branch (located across Myeongdong Theatre)
2.  Main Floor at Lotte Department Store (Flagship Branch at Myeongdong)
3.  10th Floor at Hyundai Department Store (Sinchon Branch)

Global Tax Free
1.  2nd Floor at Olive Young (Main Branch at Myeongdong, located next to Seoul Royal Hotel)
2.  Main floor of the luxury hall of Shinsegae Department Store (Flagship store at Myeongdong)
3.  B1 and 5th Floor of Doota (Dongdaemun)

Read more about Downtown Tax Refund here.  Happy Shopping!


  1. Hi, after going to the Tax Refund Counter at 3rd floor and obtaining approval, where should I check in my luggage?

    1. Hi Shirley, after getting approval for the items, you can proceed to the respective airline counter to check in your luggage. The check - in counters are on the same level. Hope this helps ^^

  2. Hi, I really appreciate your sharing. It is helpful for planning my first trip to SK. Thanks!

  3. Hi may i know if i have to go to the Tax Free Inspection Counter first or the check-in counter? Thank you.

    1. Hi, for Incheon Airport, you will have to check-in your luggage and at the same time, declare the tax free items. After that, the check-in counter staff will then bring you to the customs and that's where your luggage will be sent in. This procedure was implemented not too long ago... not sure if there are further changes or whether the other airports in Korea implements the same procedure though.... When will u be gg to Korea?

  4. Hi, I'm going to Jeju this weekend, as you said, if my next destination is Seoul, Korea also, The Jeju custom only will do a verification on the good I have purchase & tax refund will only be make when I depart in Korea Incheon Airport. Is OK for me just direct do my custom stamp in Seoul instead in Jeju custom? [For the items I bought in Jeju]

  5. Hi, frankly I am not too sure if you can do that as you may miss the chance of getting the tax refund totally. Perhaps you can check with the airport staff upon arrival (at Jeju Airport) so that you can plan your departure itinerary ^^


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