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Navigating VAT Refunds in Korea: A Guide for Foreign Businesses


Ever wondered about getting your VAT back on business expenses in Korea, even if you don't have an office there? Well, it's not just a pipe dream! Korea offers VAT refund opportunities for foreign businesses, making it a financially savvy move. Let’s break down these regulations in a way that's as easy as pie to understand.

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Understanding VAT Refund Eligibility

What's in for You: Eligible Goods and Services

First things first, let's talk about what you can get a refund on:

  • Food and Accommodation: Had a business lunch or stayed at a hotel? You’re in luck!

  • Advertising Services: Those promotional efforts aren't for naught.

  • Power and Communication Services: Yes, those hefty bills can be refunded.

  • Real Estate Rental: Rented a space for a conference? That’s covered too.

But remember, it’s not a free-for-all. The refund applies only to goods and services that are deductible under the

VAT law.

Meeting the Refund Requirements

The Price Tag

  • Threshold: Your refund amount must exceed KRW 300,000 in one fiscal year. Not a small change, right?

It’s a Two-Way Street: Reciprocity Requirement

  • Equal Treatment: You get a refund if Korea gets the same deal in your country. Fair's fair!

The Refund Procedure: How to Get Your Money Back

Application Time!

  1. Application Deadline: Submit your application to the National Tax Service by June 30 of the following year.

  2. Documentation Needed: Attach ‘Foreign Business Transaction Details and VAT Refund Application’ with your tax invoices and credit card slips.

What Happens Next?

The tax office will:

  • Review your transaction details.

  • Decide on your refund.

  • Send the money your way or to your designated agent.

Choosing the Right Agent for Your Refund

Who Can Help?

  • Tax Accountant or Certified Public Accountant: These pros know the drill.

  • Specialized VAT Refund Agents: They eat VAT refunds for breakfast.

Power of Attorney

  • Legal Requirement: Attach a power of attorney as per the VAT law.


  1. Can any foreign business apply for a VAT refund in Korea? Absolutely! As long as you meet the eligibility and requirements.

  2. What if my country doesn’t have a VAT system like Hong Kong? No worries! The reciprocity requirement is still met.

  3. How detailed do my documents need to be? They should be clear enough to separate the VAT amount from the total.


Paying taxes is part and parcel of doing business, but getting a refund on them? Now that’s smart economics! Whether you’re a multinational giant or a small-scale entrepreneur, understanding and utilizing the VAT refund regulations in Korea can significantly benefit your business’s bottom line. Remember, it’s not just about paying taxes; it's also about reclaiming what’s rightfully yours.

So, next time you're in Korea for business, keep these tips in mind. Who knows, with the money you save, you might just treat yourself to an extra kimchi pancake or two!


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