The Tax Agency implements 'DIVA' the new electronic system for refund of VAT to travellers

Streamlining of ‘tax free’ procedures

  • A total of 14 Spanish airports, the main customs posts and several ports will have electronic validation systems for sealing documents for travellers entitled to a refund of VAT
  • Travellers who reside outside the European Union will be able to request in the qualified establishments, or via collaborating bodies, the ‘DIVA’ form for the refund of the tax


10 November 2016.- The Tax Agency has introduced a new electronic system to facilitate the refund of VAT to travellers (‘tax free’) not resident in the European Union.The new procedure, called ‘DIVA’, will allow travellers to streamline the procedures of sealing the documents required for the refund of the tax on leaving the territory of application of VAT.In addition, businesses that use the system will gain in security and traceability, since the documentation will be added directly to the database of the Tax Administration.Between January and September 2016, more than 10.7 million non-EC tourists visited Spain.

The ‘DIVA’ project was created in conjunction with the preparation of the National Shopping Tourism Plan, passed by the Government in November 2014.In this context, the Tax Agency proposes, in line with systems already in operation or in a study phase in other European countries, an improvement in the VAT refund procedure on purchases made by travellers.

Following an initial pilot project conducted at Madrid's Barajas airport and concluded successfully last August, at the end of this month of November 14 Spanish airports will have automatic machines or reading devices for electronic validation of the website form (‘DIVA’) that will allow the refund of the tax without needing to use the traditional manual method of sealing purchase bills at the Customs.

These devices will be operative in the airports of Madrid (already in operation), Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Bilbao, Malaga, Alicante, Ibiza, Mahón, Castellón, Girona, Asturias and Santander.In the same time horizon, it is planned to incorporate these devices in other key points for the transit of travellers, such as the ports of Algeciras, Malaga, Alicante and Tarifa, and the customs posts of La Línea de la Concepción and La Farga de Moles (Lleida).


Gradual implementation

The implementation of the DIVA will be gradual, as the businesses and various ‘tax free’ operators authorised by the Tax Agency to manage VAT refunds enter the system.To promote the new tax refund model and its advantages, on 8 November the Tax Agency, in collaboration with the Secretariat of State for Commerce of the Ministry of the Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, held an informative meeting with the attendance of more than 40 companies and various representatives of the public sector.

During the meeting, the Head of the Tax Agency's Department of Customs and Excise Duties, Pilar Jurado, encouraged the commercial sector to enter the new system promptly.In turn, the Secretary of State for Commerce, Jaime García-Legaz, considered “totally indispensable” an initiative which, he said, has been launched “at the ideal moment and with great success”.

How does the DIVA system work?

Travellers who are non-resident in the territory of application of VAT are entitled to a refund of the tax paid at the moment of purchasing goods if a series of requirements are fulfilled.Until now, in Spain this reimbursement system, known internationally as ‘tax free’, entailed of necessity the manual sealing of the purchase bill by the Customs Service when the traveller presented the purchased goods before leaving the VAT territory of the European Union.In this way, the traveller could accredit the actual exit feom the territory of VAT application to the effects of being able subsequently to request the refund from the establishment where the goods were acquired, or to the collaborating bodies which offer to manage these refunds.

The new DIVA, which will coexist with the traditional manual sealing of purchase bills, is an electronic procedure which businesses can enter voluntarily.With this system, the traveller will request in the shops a website form (DIVA form) which he/she will be able to validate electronically for the purpose of the tax refund, at the sealing points of each Customs post.Then he/she will be able to claim the refund from the shop where the purchases were made, or from the ‘tax free’ managing agency located in the corresponding boarding area.

More information on the DIVA system at the following website address:


N.B.:A photographic Annex with automatic machines for electronic sealing of the ‘DIVA form’ in terminals T1 and T4 of the Madrid-Barajas Airport and a leaflet in Spanish are included.


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