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Tax Free Shopping in Mexico! Is it worth it?

Shopping in Playa Del Carmen Touche collection

If shopping in Mexico on vacation sounds like enough fun in itself, how does doing it tax free sound? It is possible to get this discount but there are some important details you will need to consider and see if it is worth participating for you.

Note: Please read the comments below. Many of our readers have had issues with getting refunds.

How does Tax Free shopping in Mexico work?

  1. You need to shop at an affiliated store with Tax Free shopping.
  2. Ask for an official invoice with the stores tax id number (this is usually just the receipt from the store) and keep your credit card slips if you used a card.
  3. When you leave at the airport, visit the Tax Free booths with your paperwork.
  4. In about 40 days you will receive your refund.
  5. And that is all you need to do.

Where can you find shops in the affiliated Tax Free program?

There are more then 10,000 stores in the program. These tend to be more commercial stores that are larger. You will need to look for the Tax Free sticker in the store of ask if they are an affiliate. Some of the stores you can shop at are Cartier, Tommy Hilfiger, Massimo Dutti, Ultra Jewels, Sunglass Hut, Armani Exchange, Nike Factory Store, Zara, Pineda Covalin, Bershka, Cloe, Swarovski, Pull and Bear, Plaza La Fiesta, Boss, Full Sand, Levis and Guess.

You can find many of these stores in Playa Del Carmen on 5th Avenue and in the shopping plazas of Paseo Del Carmen and Quinta Alegria.

Note: There are exclusions of certain products for the Tax Free program like drugs, food, and services like tours, hotels and transportation are not included.

What are the limits for cash and credit card purchased for the Tax Free program?

If you use cash you should save all your receipts with the RFC number (Mexican Tax id number). There is no minimum for cash purchased but there is a maximum of 3000 MX pesos. So if you want to get tax back you should only spend cash up to 3000 pesos and then use a credit card for other purchases.

For credit cards or debit cards there is a minimum of 1200 MX pesos per invoice. This means that in one store you will need to make a large enough purchase to meet the 1200 MX peso threshold. There however is no maximum so you can go a little crazy with this! So you can spend unlimited amounts of money on credit cards and as long as each purchase has a receipt of 1200, MX pesos then it qualifies for tax back.

Note: If you have large purchases like goods over 5000 MX Pesos you will be asked to show the goods at the time of getting to a Tax Free booth.

Who qualifies to the Tax Free shopping?

Any tourist that comes to Mexico and leaves via airplane or cruise is available to get this arrangement.

What paperwork do you need at the airport?

  • You will need your receipts with the stores tax id number (called RFC) and credit card slips.
  • Your passport.
  • Your boarding pass either boarding ticket or cruise ticket.
  • The immigration form and the tax refund forms filled out.

What is the tax in Mexico and what do you get back?

The VAT (or value added tax) in Mexico is 16%. You will notice that every store you are in the tax is already included in the price and no store can add taxes to your purchases at the register. It is illegal for a store to do this in Mexico! With the Tax Free program you get 65% of the tax back. This means you are about getting 10% back on your purchases. It is up to you if you think it is worth the time and effort to fill out the forms and keep the receipts. For example if you spend about 3000 MX pesos in cash and file for the Tax Free program you will receive about 300 pesos back. If you plan on large purchases especially at the jewelry stores this program can be an incentive to buy something large because of the refund.

Tax Free is a Mexican company that works with the Mexican government to provide this service and has been open since 2006.

After you leave Mexico you can actually track your refund at the official site here.

Where are the Tax Free booths at the Cancun airport?

In Terminal 2 at the Cancun airport the booth is on the main floor and open from 9:00am-10:00pm. In Terminal 3 it is located upstairs in front of Gate C21. It is open from 9:00am-10:00pm.

If you don’t do the paperwork at the airport you can email the documents to: contacto.turista@taxfree.com.mx

Recommendations

If you are going to spend some money at the affiliate stores you might want to consider this. The paperwork is fairly east to fill our and the refund process is straight forward. However after so many comments from readers we think there are some big issues with this.

If you have a problem with tax free shopping you can contact Profeco. This is the Mexican governmental office of consumer protection. They take consumer complaints and investigate them.

For more about shopping in Playa Del Carmen, see our guide here on everything you might be looking for and more.

Have you done this tax back program? Let us know how it worked for you in the comments below.

29 Comments on Tax Free Shopping in Mexico! Is it worth it?

  1. Cindy Dodson // April 1, 2016 at 8:36 AM // Reply

    Hello,

    I filled out all the required paperwork in Los Cabos at the airport, at the Maritime terminal. I was given paperwork with phone numbers if I did not receive my payment. I did not and the numbers are not working and all emails have gone unanswered. I may call the store that I received the jewelry from, Eduardo Sanchez.
    Please advise

    • Mr.Yucatan // April 1, 2016 at 10:15 AM // Reply

      Sorry to hear you are having issues with getting your tax refund back. Here are a few questions for you. Was the store on the list of registered stores? Has it been 40 days since you submitted the paperwork? If you say yes to those then contacting the store might be the best thing to do and ask them about it. Although they might not pay it much attention since they already made the sale, but hopefully it gets all worked out for you.

  2. Hi there I spent an obscene amount of money (about £10,000 GBP) on holiday at Playa Del Carmen, I had all my receipts and processed it all. I was told it takes 30-60 days. It has been 60 days and the company is not answering me.

    I took the receipts to a desk in a gem store in Quinta avenida. I do not remember the name of the store, super gems something like that. Also I processed some more paperwork at another desk at a Sephora I think near the Cozumal ferry point on the mainland at the bottom of Quinta avenida. Please can you help me?

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 29, 2016 at 9:58 AM // Reply

      When you say you processed receipts at the store, what do you mean? The program works when you take the official store receipt with the stores RFC number on it (that means the store is officially reporting it as taxable income to the government). Then you are to take your receipts to the airport and fill out the forms or submit via email to the contact in the article for your tax free shopping discount. Did the store say they would process it for you?

  3. Hi I took it to an official at a desk yes. They made copies of the receipts and my boarding passes my passport number. They said I did not have to do anything further the paperwork would take 30-60 days to complete. I holidayed in March 2016. I completed a lot of paperwork at the official tax desk at a jewellery store on 5th avenue. Super gem or something. The tax desk was right at the back of the gem/jewellery store.

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 30, 2016 at 1:40 AM // Reply

      Ok. We can go by the store to ask for you. We will include in the article and tell people that they should do it at the airport instead of at the store. There is no incentive for the store complete the paperwork after they have made the sale. It is not a benefit for them to process the paperwork and even more vile thought, they don’t have to record the sale to tax authorities if it is recorded. One option you do have is to file the paperwork yourself via the email address in the article. If we are able to find out anything at the store we will let you know.

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 30, 2016 at 6:20 PM // Reply

      We have to say we went looking to this store on 5th and near the Cozumel Ferry Pier and did not find this store. There are no stores named Super Gem or even close to that. So we are not able to help any further. Your best bet is to submit all your paperwork to the official email address of the tax free program to get your refund. We wish you good luck with this.

  4. I travel to cancun and purchased a bag from Louis Vuitton. I went to the tax free office to get my tax refund paperwork filled out. The gentleman advised me I will be receiving the refund in my credit card within 30 to 90 days. It has been more than 3 and a half month already. I still did not receive my refund.

    • Hello Peggy

      Did you get an email or phone number with your receipt?

      • Yes, I sent the email to the person that took care of my refund and he never responded to my email. It’s been almost a month for the first email, and I sent another follow up email around last week or so. Same, no respond.

  5. I sent the email to the person that took care of my refund and he never responded to my email. It’s been almost a month for the first email, and I sent another follow up email around last week or so. Same, no respond.

  6. This is just fraud. I log a claim whne i left mexico on 9 july, i got an enail tbat the money have been refind, but nothing show up on mu amex card. Tax free.com.mx said i have to talk with amex, hahahaha, if they are puting money back on my amex, why Amex should be the contact pint? Well i believe this is how the whole system works in mexico

  7. it seems like tax refunds programs such as moneyback and taxfree in playa del carmen are big scams. the scary thing is that you leave your passport copy and boarding flight reservation that has a lot of information on it.
    Did anybody try to get a refund directly at the official custom/immigration office in cancun airport instead of going via those 3rd party companies?

  8. With the common trend being no-one gets a refund I wonder why this is even done either in Mexico or here in the USA? Let’s face it what incentive is there for the retailer. Plus like what it has been said once the sale is made and your out of country the chances of getting your refund looks like its 0%.

  9. I bought a new macbook at the Istore on Quinta and was given the rfc receipt and a leaflet to claim some of the tax back via MONEYBACK. It lists kiosks at all the main tourist airports as well as 4 inside PDC shops. Are these the same guys as Tax Free? The leaflet says you need to shop at one of their affiliated stores. Does that preclude me from using TAX FREE to claim it back?

    Thing is, the MONEYBACK leaflet the store have me offers 8.9% refund, which is 56% of the tax. If I’m going to get ripped off I’d rather it was for 35% and not 44%!

    By the way, other forum reports of people getting their refunds 9-10 months later, so hold on!,

  10. This is a scam. Made purchases August 2016 and it is January 2017 and still no refund. Flyer states 40 days for refund, but that came and went months ago. Emails not answered and the website to check your status only says “Reviewing” and no contact information.It is also not a secure website so expect some fraud entering your passport number.

  11. ANTHONY SPITERI // March 29, 2017 at 2:15 PM // Reply

    THIS TAX BACK SEEMS TO BE A CON IT IS NOW 4 MONYHS SINCE OUR LAST VISIT TO CANCUN WE PROCESSED ALL THE PAPERWORK AT THE TAX BACK OFFICE WHICH IS AN OFFICIAL OFFICE AND WE WERE TOLD THAT WE WOULD BE REFUNDED APROXIMATELY 5000 PESOS WITHIN 40 DAYS WE ARE STILL WAITING. THIS WAS OUR 4TH VISIT TO CANCUN AND EACH TIME THE SAME THING HAPPENS WE THEN HAVE TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE THE NEXT TIME WE VISIT WITH THE HELP OF THE MANAGER OF THE HOTEL WE STAY AT. WE BELIEVE THAT THE AUTHORITIES PROMOTE THIS TAX BACK TO ATTRACT SALES AND THEN DON’T REFUND THE TAX ON THE HOPE THAT TOURISTS WILL NOT FOLLOW UP.

    • Mr.Yucatan // March 29, 2017 at 5:04 PM // Reply

      Thank you for your comments. We originally wrote this article thinking this was a good service to those that shop at stores that offer the tax back. We have gotten so many complaints that we see that there are problems with this and will alert readers to the fact that many have issues with it or never receive their refund.

  12. Carolyn Blick // April 28, 2017 at 4:54 PM // Reply

    We were visitors on the Carnival Pride. We bought two rings in Cozumel on January 13, 2017. We purchased the jewelry at the EFFY store, and the sales people and manager gave us the receipt and told us to get a refund request completed at the official office. We filled out the paperwork and showed them our passport in the official office. We were told that we should receive a credit to our credit card in something like 45-90 days. Well, it’s past that now. I’ve sent them an email, and I’ve not heard back from then. I have saved the official refund form from the tax office, along with my jewelry receipt. I guess this is some sort of scam?

    • Mr.Yucatan // April 28, 2017 at 5:56 PM // Reply

      Hello Carolyn
      When we originally wrote about this we thought it was a helpful article to people for shopping on vacation. But we have heard from so many people that have tried it and it has not worked out. We feel bad that people have been lied to and we intend to look into this because it seems to be bigger then we thought. Thank you for your comments.

  13. I did finally get my refund after numerous calls, and emails. It took about 5 months. My advise is be persistent!

  14. I too have fallen victim to the trac back scan of Mexico. I made a substantial purchase at a store in Los cabos called Ultra jewels in jan 2017 and habe yet to receive any teas refund. They are a high end chain of stores and seem reputable. We filled out all the paperwork at the store and were tools by the stag that they would proccesss the refund on our behalf. We habe since sent numerous emails without response. We will now be contacting the hotel we stayed at to advise them off this scam in the hope they warn their guests against shopping at ultra jewels. We will also be contacting all the brands they represent advising them off the unethical methods in which they conduct business and how this cooks affect their brand image.. we eill be posting our experience on every possible forum and review site shaming ultra jewels. We will be contacting the authorities as mentioned in the article above reporting ultra jewels. Travelers beware.. Mexico is full of cons. Enjoy the place but watch your money. They will take every cent they can from you and never blink an eyelid..

  15. kristen stokes // June 27, 2017 at 8:52 PM // Reply

    I too made purchases while on vacation in Cancun, Mexico 6 months ago and never received anything back. I followed all the instructions, which said nothing about claims at the airport, I took my receipts with special bar codes to the “Tax Free” booth in the mall. They took my receipts, not made copies, took down my info along with our hotel and flight info. Its been 6 months with nothing. Its a total scam.

  16. Broke girl // July 2, 2017 at 10:43 PM // Reply

    I have the king of all cases!!! I purchased an expensive handbag at Louis Vuitton and a wallet and that was in June 2016! I recently went back in vacation and beelined it back to the refund store in the mall where the Gucci store is housed (Palace something). I had copies of my paperwork from June 2016 and a representative here promised to look into it and email me back the ext day– he actually did and said that indould once again get it within 45-90 days. We shall see. I agree with all folks who have commented above. You have to leave then your passport, flight, immigration and credit card info!! Truly 3rd world type processing!!! You should be able to get your money back right then in cash form! I too believe it is only to serve the store and the tax back folks who get a huge chunk of the money as well. There should be a process to get your whole amount of refund back immediately and without waiting!!!!

    I love visiting the country but hate the fact that you leave yourself so vulnerable!!!

    Note: the tax back folks at the airport are a lot more rude than the folks at the mall site…

  17. Broke girl // July 2, 2017 at 10:45 PM // Reply

    Also.. emailing the taxback folks is a joke!! NO ONE responds!!

  18. I have purchased Many high end items @ ULTRA JEWELS in Playa Del Carmen
    They did all the paper work at the store.
    and I have Allways received my refund Promply . Note: if you use AMER/EXPRESS it
    will take up to (4)months.

  19. I purchased two pairs of sun glasses at the Sun Glass Hut in the airport at CanCun. I made the purchase of the second pair because of the incentive to get the tax refund. I took all the receipts, passport etc. to the booth in the airport for MONEYBACK. I was told that the money would be on my account in 60 days. After 60 days I emailed and they appologized and said there had been a change in government(?). Money would be forthcoming.
    No money so I emailed again and they sent me a copy of a form which had been filled out and submitted by their employee. They said it had not been completed correctly…”tourist did not have a cross” and had therefore been cancelled. I again emailed and said that was their problem, the form should be rewritten and resubmitted and that I wanted my money! I have not heard anything since.
    These purchases were made in April 2017 and it is now mid Sept. 2017/

    • We appreciate you telling your story here. The more information we have and the more stories we hear, the more we hear that there are problems with this. We originally wrote this article just to share a helpful tidbit of info but have discovered something larger here we believe.

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