Frequently Asked Questions

The Global Blue FAQ section answers most of your questions about our company & services. If you cannot find the answer here or by using one of our tools to the right, you can send us an email

About Global Blue

  • Who are Global Blue?

    Global Blue are the experts on globe shopping and tourists’ spending abroad.

  • Why have you changed your name from Global Refund to Global Blue?

    We introduced Tax Free Shopping in 1980 when we offered tax free to shoppers in Sweden and were known as ‘Sweden Tax Free Shopping’. Then we grew and began offering tax refunds to travellers all over Europe and became ‘Europe Tax Free Shopping’. By 1999 we were a global company and fittingly became Global Refund. In 2010 we became Global Blue. Global Blue offers much more than the 23 million tax refund transactions we handled in 2012.

  • What does your logo stand for?

    Our logo is called ‘The Journey’. It symbolizes the many paths that our customers travel across the globe. Travellers flying from Moscow to London; merchants trading in Milan and Buenos Aires; banks branching out from Singapore to Vienna. In our logo, these paths are illustrated by a single continuous line, a representation of the endless possibilities that come with travel and a global outlook.

  • Where is Global Blue’s headquarters?

    Global Blue is headquartered in Eysins, close to Geneva, in Switzerland.

  • Where does Global Blue have offices?

    We operate in 43 countries across the globe.

  • How many merchants do you work with?

    270,000 affiliated merchants.

  • How many people work for Global Blue?

    Global Blue employs over 1,800 people on five continents.

  • How many globe shoppers use Global Blue?

    Every year more than 36 million globe shoppers use Global Blue’s services throughout the world.

  • How many banks/financial institutes use Global Blue?

    Global Blue is working with around 20 different banks and financial institutes.

  • Who is a globe shopper?

    A globe shopper is someone who regards shopping as a fundamental part of their travel experience. We believe they are the world’s most valuable customer.

Tax Free Shopping

  • Why should a merchant select Global Blue’s tax free services?

    Global Blue Tax Free Shopping ensures a merchant is viewed as attractive, trustworthy and reliable by globe shoppers. Our famous ‘Tax Free’ sign is recognised by international travellers as the trusted symbol for tax free shopping. In 2013 we set a new record of over 26 million transactions. 
    Global Blue Tax Free Shopping service complies with all tax and legal requirements and offers the merchants a simple administration process.
    Our growth has been built on making Tax Free Shopping simple for travellers, while forging strong partnerships with merchants in order to understand shoppers better, serve them more smoothly, and increase revenue. What’s more, Global Blue’s marketing services, transaction technology and publishing network are all designed to drive foreign customers through the merchants’ doors.

  • What is tax refund for travellers?

    In a number of countries, authorities are working to stimulate retail trade by offering VAT/GST/CTEE refunds to visitors that purchase goods during their stay, and then export the goods in their personal baggage. Using this service, visitors can save up to 19 per cent.

  • Who is entitled to tax free shopping?

    Foreign visitors are entitled to tax refund on purchases when they export from the country they are visiting. To be entitled to refund within the European Union (EU) you have to reside outside the EU.

  • In which countries is Tax Free Shopping offered?

    Global Blue offers VAT/GST refunds from shopping in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

  • Does Global Blue provide for refunds on such as hotel bills, restaurant notes and car rentals?

    Global Blue only provides refunds on goods that are carried and exported in the traveller’s luggage.

  • How do travellers know if the store provides Global Blue tax-free service?

    Travellers need to look for our well-known Global Blue Tax Free sign in the window or ask the staff in the store for help and information.

  • Is there any lowest level of purchases to receive tax refunds?

    Yes there is. This is subject to national rules and the levels differ between countries.

  • Is Global Blue involved in tax-free shopping in airports and in flights?

    Duty-free or tax-free offers in airports and in flights are normally not part of our service. These offers usually refer to alcohol, tobacco and perfumes. However, there are airport retailers providing our services. These shops display our characteristic Global Blue Tax Free sign.

  • Do travellers always need to get purchased goods export validated?

    Yes, it is obligatory to obtain an export validation in order to prove the exportation. This is done through a customs or export stamp on the Global Blue Tax Free Form.

  • How time-consuming is a VAT reclaim?

    Global Blue takes care of the entire process so there is no need for the traveller to commit any resources.  We take care of the paperwork, the reconciliation with the authorities and the payment.

  • What happens if the traveller arrives late at the airport?

    Refunds can be paid at any time from any of our 250 customer services desks. The only thing the traveller needs to do at the airport is to get an export validation from a customs official when they leave the country or the European Union. Travellers can mail the Tax Free Form back to Global Blue and receive the refund on their credit card or through a bank cheque.

  • In what forms can travellers have the tax refunded?

    Traveller can receive their refunds in the way that is most convenient for them. We pay out cash, direct crediting of a credit card, transfer money to a bank account or send a bank cheque. Cash is paid out immediately at the airport of departure or later by one of Global Blue’s more than 250 international customer services desks located at international airports, border crossings or downtown. Downtown customer services desks are also located in the travellers’ home countries.

  • How quickly do travellers receive refunds?

    If the traveller chooses to receive the refund in cash, the payment is done immediately at one of our tax free refund counter. It the traveller rather takes the refund to a credit card at the refund counter the payment to the credit card company is made within 5 days. For Tax Free Forms that are sent to us, the refund payment is done within 3 weeks of receipt of the Tax Free Form. Handling time for credit card companies and banks are excluded.

  • Can an individual take care of the refund process on their own without using Global Blue?

    Yes. The individual would need to complete all tax-refund paperwork by themselves and liaise with the authorities in order to obtain the tax refund.

Currency Choice

  • What is Currency Choice?

    Currency Choice is Global Blue’s dynamic currency conversion service that allows international shoppers to pay in their credit card currency, instead of the local currency, at the point of purchase. With Currency Choice, international shoppers get to see the price of their purchases in their local currency, and that’s the exact amount that will be charged to their account.

  • Do customers have to use Currency Choice?

    No, customer’s always see the price in both the local and their credit card currency. To accept the amount in their own currency, they simply accept to be debited in their own currency and sign the credit card slip – this is the exact amount charged to their bank. If they don’t accept the converted amount in their home currency, they can still sign in the local currency. The effective exchange rate is then applied by the card issuer and the converted billing amount will appear on the subsequent card statement. The card holder always has a choice.

  • Why should a merchant select Global Blue’s Currency Choice?

    Global Blue’s Currency Choice enables merchants to offer their customers the opportunity to pay for their goods in their credit card currency instead of the local currency. Currency Choice offers shoppers total peace of mind and the comfort of knowing they won’t face unexpected bills when they return home. Retail and hotel front-line staff can ensure customers feel comfortable and safe with their spending at all times. Furthermore, the service grants the merchant a commission on each transaction.

  • Who is entitled to use Currency Choice?

    Customers who pay for goods or services using a Visa or a MasterCard.

  • What is Best Rate Guarantee?

    The Currency Choice Best Rate Guarantee warrants the customer to receive the best available exchange rate. They are offered a money-back guarantee if they would have received a better exchange rate from their bank when paying for goods or services in the same country on the same day.

  • In which countries can I take advantage of Currency Choice?

    At present Currency Choice is available in Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, the island of Taiwan, Thailand and UK.

  • How do globe shoppers know if the store or hotel offers Currency Choice?

    Globe shoppers need to look for our Global Blue Currency Choice sign in the shop window, at the front desk or ask the staff in the store or at the hotel for help and information.

Market Intelligence

  • What is Global Blue Market Intelligence?

    At Global Blue we have spent more than 30 years tracking foreign customer spending patterns and behaviour. We know where international travellers shop and what they like to buy. We are able to combine transactional data with detailed customer information to provide unparalleled levels of marketing intelligence. Add to this the trend data we’re able to gather through our dedicated staff on the ground in the world’s most important globe shopper economies, and you understand why Global Blue’s intelligence offer is truly unique.

  • What Market Intelligence is available?

    Global Blue can provide a number of different reports on market intelligence.
    Dossier – in-depth studies on key globe shopper nationalities.
    Review – regular updates on changes to different globe shopper markets. 
    Briefing – bespoke introductions to the most important and current globe shopper trends.
    Analytics – customised and detailed reports on specific globe shopper nationalities, geographical areas and time periods.

  • What Market Intelligence tools do you use?

    Through our own data warehouse and expert Business Intelligence staff we are able to combine transactional data with detailed local information to produce unparalleled levels of marketing intelligence.

  • Do you have any examples of how Global Blue’s Market Intelligence has benefited your merchants?

    The rapid rise of German kitchenware products amongst the Chinese is something that has been discovered through our data mining and analyses. We have also helped our merchants re-direct their promotional activities and rapidly drive sales to align to key international travel seasons and patterns.

Marketing Services

  • What advertising opportunities does Global Blue offer?

    We’ve created two powerful, targeted media platforms in which merchants can advertise to international audiences at a fraction of the cost of conventional channels.
    • Our SHOP magazines are the globe shoppers’ shopping bible. We produced over 3,8 million of them in 2012, in 78 editions, and distribute them across 28 countries. Upon arrival at the hotel, globe shoppers are presented with our guide and can quickly and easily see what local merchants have to offer. SHOP magazine has quickly shaped up to be the world’s biggest shopping and fashion publication. Packed with first-class editorial and features and in two formats – Luxury and Style – there’s even more opportunity for merchants to target their audience.
    • Our website –– enables us to establish a never-ending dialogue with our customers, offering a number of mobile applications that will literally guide globe shoppers to merchants’ doors.

  • How do merchant’s benefit from Global Blue advertising?

    Merchants can be ensured their brand and key messages are in the hands and minds of globe shoppers. From poster campaigns at international airports, inserts in in-flight magazines, leaflets and brochures handed out at Global Blue customer service centres and SHOP magazine and smart phone applications at the hotel. Global Blue has the tools to drive customers’ through merchants’ doors.

  • What pre-travel marketing opportunities does Global Blue offer?

    We’re rolling out Global Blue information points in travel agents across key markets in Russia, Asia and Brazil, enabling globe shoppers to interact with merchants’ brands, while they are deciding on their next destination.
    What’s more, merchants have the opportunity to interact with globe shoppers through every stage of their journey thanks to Global Blue’s wide range of paper-based and digital promotional tools, such as customer catalogues, brand-specific shopping guides and even shopping tours.

  • Do you have any examples of how Global Blue’s pre-travel marketing products have benefited your merchants?

    We produce 240 pre-travel marketing campaigns per year, targeting the top five travelling nationalities: Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Brazilian and Indonesian. On average, we cover 60% of the total globe shopper traffic, and we collaborate with world-class brands and retailers.


  • What is the Global Blue Academy?

    The Global Blue Academy trains merchants on how best to engage with and sell to an ever-growing international shopper base. Our courses cover everything from cultural understanding and insights into when and where different nationalities shop, to more practical information on how to sell profit-generating products such as Tax Free Shopping and Currency Choice. In 2011 we introduced on-line training modules with examination to make it easier for front line staff to be trained at their own convenience.

  • How often do trainings take place?

    The trainings are planned on a local level, with basic trainings taking place monthly, while more extensive courses are scheduled to the needs of the customer.

  • Do you have any examples of how Global Blue’s Academy has helped the merchants?

    A world-renowned department store tripled Chinese tourist business in 18 months by integrating a structured Global Blue Academy training programme for their sales staff.