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Guide to Tax Refund in Korea

I thought I should do a simple guide on this since I'm blogging about my trip in Korea and there are little blog posts that highlight on this aspect. Hope this will help those who will be shopping in Korea soon! :)

1. Look out for these signs when you're shopping
These are usually located at the entrance of the shop, but not all the shops do tax refund, some examples are street side stalls, 10,000won shops, etc. As far as I know, there are currently 4 different tax refund companies out there. The first two being the logo I shown above: Global Blue Tax Free and Global Tax Free, followed by Cube Refund and Easy Tax Refund. 

Usually I will just go into the shop and ask if there will be tax refund before making purchases and most beauty brands do have that. Do note that certain brands do not provide tax refund during sales period so do remember to ask!

2. Accumulate to min. 30,000won to qualify
Most brands in Korea requires 30,000won worth of spending to qualify for tax refund. Even though the tax is 10%, you won't get a full 10% back, you will receive 5%-8% depending on the total amount you spend. From what I know, the cut off of each amount varies:
30,000won - 49,000won : 1,500won refund
50,000won - 74,000won : 3,500won refund
75,000won - 99,000won : 5,000won refund
You can calculate the amount of refund here:)
So the best thing to do is plan your purchases beforehand, research on the must buy products or look around the store and calculate your purchases before committing to it.

3. Request for tax refund receipt
A separate receipt has to be printed for tax refund and in most cases, sales staffs won't ask if you need the tax refund even though you're obviously not a Korean because there are many foreigners living in Korea too. Once requested, they will staple the original receipt with the tax refund receipt before putting it into an envelope. Please keep the envelopes with you till the last day as it is more tidy and the instructions as to where to go can be found there too. It wasn't much help for me though, ended up asking several people at the airport before I finally gotten the refunds.

Places like Lotte Mart and Lotte Departmental stores have an additional counter to issue tax refund receipts so do remember to check with the cashier :)

4. Sort out the receipts & Fill up your details
I know it's like commonsense but do fill them up each night you get back to your hotel to minimise the trouble of finding for a pen to fill it up at the airport. Besides, you can also sort out those that provide downtown cash refund, which means you can get a refund directly at Myeong-dong instead of the airport. Both Cube Refund and Easy Tax Refund provides this service, you will receive a form like the one seen above once the refund has been issued. You don't need to present your purchases at this point, only your credit card and passport is needed to ensure that you will be leaving the country within a certain amount of days. Do remember to get this stamped/collected by the staff at the airport as well if not a penalty fee will be charged to your credit card.

I didn't know about this because I don't read the instructions (oops), but thanks to this really sweet sales girl at The Saem, she gave me an additional map to get refunds at Cube Refund in Myeong-dong which gave me an extra few dollars to shop on that day :x

5. Declaration and Refund process at the airport
Be at the airport 3-4 hours before your flight time, best to be early as the queues can be unpredictable. Some people mentioned to check-in first while informing the staff that you have stuff for tax refund but I prefer to do it the other way round. Proceed to show your receipts and get it stamped by the customs officer, it is located next to Lotteria behind counter D.
Though the instructions mentioned that checks will be done on your purchased items, the customs officer told me it was unnecessary and quickly stamped my receipts before helping the next customer. I didn't expect this so I still had some unpacked items but good thing I was first in line and at the airport really early so I just sat at the side to pack them up before checking in my luggage.

There are a counter beside the custom counter with some machines(shown in the bottom left hand corner) that help to check the total amount of your purchase and refund to be received. If you have anything you're unsure of, you can ask the ladies in charge of the counter there.
After that, go through the immigration and look for Gate 28 where refund counters for Global Blue Tax Refund and Global Tax Free. There wasn't any queue when I was there in the morning so I got everything done within minutes! As for the other refunds, you can visit kt tourist reward kiosk which are located at Gate 27(look just like the one in the previous picture), where there will be staffs to assist you in the process. Apparently, all the different companies for tax refund are accepted here so no queuing at separate counters is needed, you can do everything in one go!

Last but not least, spend your money at duty free shops or keep them for your next trip! The exchange rates at the airport is bad, so don't bother checking!

*If you reached the airport at wee hours and counters are closed, you can fill up your details on the envelope and drop it at the designated letterboxes to receive your refund via credit card or money order mailed to your address. This process would take up to 2 months though.


  1. Really nice and informative post by the author. Thanks for sharing the awesome useful information.
    Income Tax Refund

  2. Great article! Thank you... I did some google search earlier today and noticed that CubeRefund will now operate as Premier Tax Free so perhaps worth updating your article. But excellent guide! I will surely refer to this guide when I travel to South Korea in the Spring :-) Here's the link I found:


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