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Hainan Kicks off Tax Refund Program for Overseas Tourists

Overseas visitors can now claim tax refunds on purchases in Hainan, south China’s island province, as the rebate plan went into effect 1st, January, 2011.

The tax refunding program was inaugurated on Saturday morning at Shengsheng Department Store in the capital city of Haikou. Shengsheng Department Store is one of the three shopping centers that are designated to carry out the new tax plan. The other two are Minsheng Department Store, also in Haikou, and Summer Day Department Store in Sanya, the most famous tourist attraction on the island.

This program includes 324 items that fall into 21 categories such as clothing, shoes, hats, cosmetics, clocks, watches, jewelry, electronics, stationery, sporting goods, medical instruments and furniture. However, food, beverages, fruit, tobacco, alcohol, motor vehicles and motor cycles are not covered.

According to the tax plan, overseas tourists or citizens from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan who have lived in China’s mainland for no more than 183 days can receive a rebate of 11 percent of the consumer goods purchased. But only the goods that meet the following conditions are eligible for the rebate:

(1) The goods are purchased within 90 days in designated shops before departing the island;
(2) The minimum purchase on which a tourist can claim tax refunds is 800 yuan (about 120 U.S. Dollars);
(3) The rebated goods should remain in unused condition while being taken along by the tourists that leaving the country;
(4) Only after the customs checking can the consumer goods be taken out of the country.

Hainan is the first region nationwide to pilot the program which is expected to bring much business to the shopping center. This scheme also accelerates Hainan’s turning into a top international tourism destination. To achieve this goal, Hainan has added five more countries to its visa-free list in August, allowing tourist groups from 26 countries to enjoy visa-free access for up to 15 days.