I'm thinking about getting a musical instrument made by a maker in Finland. At the moment without VAT it's cheaper than if I have it built in Australia, where I am from. I currently need to pay €700 at the start of the commission and then the remaining €1453 once the instrument is finished

However, I am travelling in Europe next year and will be in Finland around when the instrument will be finished.

If I pay the remaining money while in Finland will I pay VAT (24%) on any part of the purchase?

  • This may be different in Australia, but: I'm in Germany. When I buy something in a foreign country that is exported without charging VAT (either there's no VAT on it from the beginning if it is directly exported or I can reclaim foreign VAT on exporting), BUT I have to pay German VAT when importing it to Germany. (There are exemptions for low value, but a 2 k€ instrument is far above that) Oct 26, 2019 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


If I pay the remaining money while in Finland will I pay VAT (24%) on any part of the purchase?

No. You HAVE to PAY VAT if you take possession of the instrument while in Finland - where you are when you pay is irrelevant. I.e. you could pay it there and it still is sent to you in Australia, then VAT does not apply.

But: If you do that, then you can reclaim the VAT when you export the instrument. Make sure to have the proper paperwork. You will either have to go through significant hassles, or hire an agency to handle the VAT return (for around 10% of the return in fee).

And if you have to pay VAT, you have to pay it on the WHOLE amount, not just the oustanding amount ;)

  • My only worry, and I don't know Finish law at all, does this apply re the paying the whole amount of VAT given this is a commissioned work, so presumably the OP is contracting this manufacturer to make an instrument involving both materials and labor. I know some countries treat sales and work contracts differently to simply buying a commodity item. But I do not know about Finland.
    – Vality
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:10

You will have to pay VAT, like everybody else, and the vendor must collect it from you - and for the full price. Your claim that you will take it out of the country at this point is not effective - consider, everybody could just say that when they buy something.

However, once you do leave the country, you can typically get a reimbursement for the VAT. This happens normally in the airport (after you 'left' the country but before you fly), again to make sure you are not simply claiming you leave.
You will need the original receipt, and depending on the country, fill some paperwork, find the respective office, and potentially wait in line. So you might want to go really early to the airport, and research the exact location of the office, process and forms for the country upfront.

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