Value-added tax (IVA, pronounced ee-vah) is 6% for hotels (5% in Madeira and 5% in the Azores). By law prices must be posted at the reception desk and should indicate whether tax is included. Restaurants are also required to charge 23% IVA (22% in Madeira and 18% in the Azores). Menus generally state at the bottom whether tax is included (IVA incluido) or not (mais 23% IVA). When in doubt about whether tax is included in a price, ask, "Está incluido o IVA?"
The sales tax is 23% on shop goods (22% in Madeira and 18% in the Azores). A number of Portuguese stores, particularly large ones and those in resorts, will refund this amount on single items worth more than €60.
When making a purchase, ask for a V.A.T. refund form and find out whether the merchant gives refunds—not all stores do, nor are they required to. Have the form stamped like any customs form by customs officials when you leave the country or, if you're visiting several European Union countries, when you leave the EU.
After you're through passport control, take the form to a refund-service counter for an on-the-spot refund (which is usually the quickest and easiest option), or mail it to the address on the form (or the envelope with it) after you arrive home. You receive the total refund stated on the form, but the processing time can be long, especially if you request a credit-card adjustment.
Global Blue is a Europe-wide service with more than 275,000 affiliated stores and more than 700 refund counters at major airports and border crossings. Its refund form, called a Tax Free Form, is the most common across the European continent. The service issues refunds in the form of cash or credit-card adjustment.
Global Blue. 800/32111111; 232/111111; 866/706--6090; www.globalblue.com.