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Travel Tips

Tax Free Shopping


When a European citizen buys any goods within the EU, they pay an automatic tax called VAT (which stands for Value Added Tax otherwise known as IVA in Spain).

Not many people know that if you live outside the European Union and you come to Spain for a visit you can enjoy Tax Free shopping, which means that you can claim back the VAT tax.

This means that you can get a 21% off the price of any items purchased while on holiday in Spain where the total bill exceeds 90.15€This service is only applicable to items that you intend to take back with you to your country. The tax saving is not applicable to restaurants, hotel bills or food items, because these items are not seen as exportable items.

Anyone living outside of the EU is entitled to claim back VAT tax from any items they purchase within Spain that they intend to take back to their own countries   (-subject to some conditions provided below).

The Tax Free Shopping Service Explained

In Barcelona, a great majority of the shops have signed up with the Tax Free Shopping Service (approximately 90%) This service is designed to make it really easy to claim back the VAT tax you pay on items purchased in Spain. Many shops have the TAX FREE service but do not display the TAX FREE SHOPPING logo in their windows and as a result many non-EU customers end up paying 18% more than they should.

Once you know the shop has the tax free service you can purchase your items and then request the TAX refund checks which the shop will fill out for you. They will then present you with a check for your tax refund which you should take with you to the airport. You collect these checks from every shop that you visit when you purchase goods.


How to claim the TAX back

When you arrive at the airport you must present you tax refund cheques at customs BEFORE you check your bags in. Customs may request to check the items before they stamp your cheques. Once your cheques have been stamped by customs you can cash your cheques at the bank offices, they will inform you where to go.

More information about where to go at Barcelona Aiport to claim the Tax Free. +info.

Safety in Barcelona

Pick pocketing and bag snatching are quite usual in Barcelona and, as you can imagine, tourists are a prime target. Be especially careful at crowded places like the beaches, the Old City, particularly Las Rambles, as well as at stations and on public transport (the airport train being a favorite) and wherever thieves think tourists might go to (parks, internet cafés…).


Do´s and Dont´s for tourists in Barcelona:

– Avoid easy targets: do not keep wallets, money in general or your mobile phone in accessible pockets. Keep your bags closed and in sight.

– Always put your things where you can see them.

– Only carry around many things as you really need for that day, leave valuables things that you aren’t going to use in the hotel safe.

– In busy streets or crowded places, keep an eye on what is happening around you. If you are suspicious of someone, move somewhere else.

– Get a travel insurance before traveling to Barcelona.

– If you need to look up anything on a map, do that in a café and not in the streets because thieves can easily identify you as a tourist and that’s what they are looking for.

– Try to be dressed appropriate: Spanish people tend to dress more conservative, they only wear shorts when they are going to the beach, never in the middle of the city.

– Avoid keeping your passport with you- a copy is more than enough.

– Avoid walking in dark isolated back streets, especially if you are alone.

– If you lose anything lost or you think you have been stolen, there’s a City Police Station at La Rambla 43, opposite Plaça Reial (City Police Emergency phone: 092). Also, you can call  the 088, the emergency phone of the Mossos de Esquadra.

– Avoid street gambling stalls, they are a fraud.

– Should you be using a vehicle of any kind, never leave any objects of value in sight.

– If you are not sure of the identification of a person, for example a non-uniformed policeman, tell them to call the hotel before delivering any documentation. Do not deliver money or credit cards.



Electrical plug/outlet in Barcelona: 220v, 2 round male plugs


Language in Barcelona

Catalan and Spanish are the official languages in Barcelona. In the tourist areas, you will see that people speak English and Spanish, however most  people will only speak Spanish or Catalan.