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Spanish Tax Agency (AEAT) receives award for innovation from Ministry of Territorial Policy and Public Function for its 'DIVA' service to refund VAT to travellers

Tuesday 6 April 2021

The Minister for Territorial Policy and Public Function, Miquel Iceta, handed over the Public Management Innovation Prize, awarded by his ministerial department to the Director-General of the Tax Agency, Jesús Gascón, within the framework of the 8th edition of the 'Prizes for Quality and Innovation in Public Management', at an event held in Madrid.

This award recognises the complete digitalisation of the process to refund VAT to travellers as an innovative practice in public management, consequently overcoming the inconvenience caused to travellers not resident in the EU under the old manual system to stamp documents accrediting the right to the refund of this tax.

The Tax Agency has aligned under this project the necessary work of tax and customs control with its public service commitment, creating a high added value process within shopping tourism.

Facilities to small businesses

A key element of the 'DIVA' project, which came into service more than four years ago, has been the creation of a model sensitive to the needs of small businesses. The Tax Agency established a digital system that allows all kinds of companies, regardless of their technological capacity, easy access to the commercial benefits of the VAT refund to travellers. In this regard, 96% of businesses that facilitate the use of 'DIVA' to travellers are small- and medium-sized enterprises (49% are micro-businesses).

The basic pillar of the 'DIVA' system has been the strategic collaboration between the public and the private sectors to combine the needs of businesses, port and airport institutions, public institutions with jurisdiction in the tourism and trade sectors, and the tourists that visit our country each year.

Strengthened due to Brexit

Due to the effective entry into force of Brexit on 1 January, the Tax Agency strengthened the customs authorities most affected by the movements of travellers to and from the United Kingdom with 38 new 'DIVA' kiosks, in order to facilitate the refund of the tax to British citizens.

The refund system is very simple. The traveller makes purchases at a store that offers the 'DIVA' electronic form (mandatory since 2019), the store hands over to the traveller a refund document with a barcode or QR code and the traveller validates this document at a 'DIVA' kiosk without the need to go to a customs office. Finally, with the validated document, the traveller can request the refund from a collaborating company or directly from the store.

Non official translation