How to Get a Canadian VAT Refund

Visiting Canada
Visiting Canada (Image: canada image by NataV from

If you visit Canada from another country, you will notice certain taxes added to the cost of most goods and services. These are called the value-added tax (VAT), and they encompass the nationwide goods and services tax (GST), and in some provinces, a harmonized sales tax (HST), in which provincial sales tax is added to the GST. If you visit Canada on your own, you have no recourse but to pay these taxes; however, if you arrive as a member of a tour package, you may be able to recoup some of the VAT you paid when you purchased the tour package.

Determine your eligibility, preferably in advance. As a nonresident, you can only reclaim the VAT if you purchased a tour package worth at least $200 Canadian. The package must include short-term accommodation plus one service such as transportation, lessons or guides, but anything to do with property (things like meals, ski rentals, green fees or tickets to events) does not qualify. The tour operator must not already have refunded the VAT. If you did not reside in Canada when you purchased your package and did not buy it for resale purposes, you should be eligible.

Gather your original invoices or receipts from your purchase of the tour package, showing the GST/HST amounts that were included in the price. You'll also need the detailed itinerary for your tour or an official, detailed description of the tour package, provided by the tour operator. If any of these documents are not in English or French, translate them.

Calculate your rebate using the quick calculation method. If a tour package includes noncamping accommodation, claim a flat rate of $5 Canadian per night. For camping accommodation, if you camped every night, claim the rate of $1 Canadian per night. However, if the camping trip also included food and the services of a guide, jump to $5 per night.

Calculate your rebate using the general calculation method. Use this if any of the nights you spent on the tour took place in ineligible accommodation, such as in someone's home rather than in a campground or in short-term accommodations like a hotel or motel. Use the following formula: (A/B) x 50 percent of the GST/HST paid, where "A" is the number of nights of short-term accommodation included in the tour package, and "B" is the total number of nights spent in Canada in the tour package. The total equals your claimed rebate.

Compare the rebate amounts you calculated using both methods, and choose the highest amount.

Fill in either application form gst115-08e.pdf (see Resources), which you download, print and fill out manually, or gst115-fill-08e.pdf (see Resources), which you can fill out online, but still must download and print. Sign and date the form.

Mail your documentation and rebate claim form, and wait for your rebate to be sent to you. Mail your documents to the following address:

Summerside Tax Centre 275 Pope Road Summerside PE C1N 6A2 CANADA

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