The best places to buy gold and silver in Europe… VAT free

Written by Andrew Henderson
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Dateline: Frankfurt, Germany

One of my favorite gold coin stores in Europe is here in Frankfurt. It’s not just that the place is in central Frankfurt (ironically not that far from the ECB), or that walking into it reminds me of a scene from The World is Not Enough.

It’s because the service there is some of the best I’ve seen in Europe.

And while the European Union is now awash in information sharing, Germans and the other countries that share their language are a bit more private than the rest of Europe about the gold-buying experience.

People here in Germany know something about the value of money, including how to save it.

The 500 euro note was created largely as a concession to Germans who wanted a comparable replacement for the 1000 Deutsche mark banknotes they used to easily keep cash at home.

Of course, Germany is the financial glue keeping the EU afloat during its meltdown. Germany recently told bankrupt Greece it’d have to endure some tough cuts despite all sorts of crazy begging tactics.

And here in Germany, gold and precious metals are treated by many like real money, not barbarous relics as they are across the pond.

 

Precious metals are so respected that a single blogger was a big part of the movement to repatriate the German central bank’s gold from its current home (if you believe it’s there at all) at 33 Liberty Street in New York City.

However, Germany is not always the best place in Europe to buy bullion.

In fact, much of Europe is at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to buying precious metals because the governments here apply VAT (essentially, sales tax) to the purchase of some investment-grade metals.

As much as the Germans value their secrecy, they don’t value the ability to buy certain precious metals without a heavy markup that puts Europeans at a distinct disadvantage.

European VAT on precious metals

Throughout the European Union, investment-grade gold bullion and certain approved coins are exempt from VAT as they are considered an investment vehicle.

Some countries tax any capital gains earned from the sale of those gold coins; this is why living in and transacting your metals purchases in a country with no capital gains tax has its advantages.

Buying silver in Europe is another story. In the European Union, silver bullion is not allowed VAT exemption, and rates vary from country to country.

The lowest rates in continental Europe are in Switzerland, where VAT on silver is 8%. At today’s prices, that will add about $1.50 to each one-ounce silver coin… a little less than the low premium over spot you’d pay to an online dealer in the US, or from our friends in Singapore where your silver is stored for free.

In the European Union, rates can be substantially higher.

Germany actually has one of the lowest rates in the EU at 19%, slightly higher than Russia’s 18%.

The United Kingdom, home to a number of easy-to-use online gold dealers and numerous offshore gold vaults, has a 20% VAT on silver. So does Austria, where my beloved Austrian Philharmonic coins are minted and available directly from the Mint. Slovenia also has a 20% value-added tax.

The Netherlands VAT on silver is 21%, while Poland assesses a 23% tax and Finland tops the charts at 24%.

How to avoid VAT when buying silver in Europe

There are two ways to get around paying VAT when buying silver in Europe, although it requires a little bit of legwork.

The first option is buying silver in Norway, which does not impose any VAT on such bullion. While Norway is not a member of the European Union (adding to its appeal), it is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), which means Europeans have certain rights to move goods back and forth.

It is not, however, as simple as buying silver online from a Norwegian dealer and having it shipped to Germany. In most cases, such a transaction would be subject to tax on the receiving end.

And if you live in a more insolvent European nation, you might not want it shipped to you anyway.

The second and more attractive option for buying VAT-free silver is through Estonia. Estonia is one of my “7 New Safe Havens for 2015”, as I unveiled at our recent Passport to Freedom event in Cancun.

Estonia is the only country I can find in the EU that does not apply sales tax to silver bullion or silver coin purchases.

Again, it’s not simply a matter of buying silver from Estonia and having it arrive at your doorstep. The European Union has recently shown just how desperate it is to collect VAT by instructing anyone who has a business selling e-books to collect VAT based on the purchaser’s location, not where he or she lives.

In short, VAT is hard to avoid.

However, customers can purchase gold and silver through an Estonian firm and then have a third party courier deliver it to them. Customers can also pick up their silver in Estonia, which is part of Europe’s borderless Schengen zone and does not require any special visa to enter.

As of now, Silver Eagles, Silver Maple Leafs, Silver Philharmonics, and several Australian and Fijian coins are all VAT-free in Estonia and can be transported anywhere in Europe with a little planning.

The costs of doing so may make investing in gold more interesting to Europeans as gold bullion can be purchased anywhere without such hassles, and can be transported more cheaply.

If you’re not a European, I stand by my assertion that Singapore is the world’s best place to store precious metals. If you’re unsure what type of bullion to buy, you can read my suggestions here.

The reason for this is that premiums over the spot price are lower in Asia – namely Hong Kong and Singapore – than in Europe even when the tax is removed. Doing business in Europe is expensive and operations are often not as streamlined as they are in the Asian wealth hubs.

However, holding some of your precious metals in Europe can be a wise move. Switzerland has long been an excellent place to store gold and Austria offers one of the world’s only anonymous storage facilities.

Ensuring you don’t pay VAT when you don’t have to is as important as diversifying your affairs to legally avoid any kind of other tax. Just make sure you follow the correct procedures to avoid seeing your metals seized.

Andrew Henderson
Last updated: Dec 28, 2019 at 6:09AM

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17 Comments

  1. Eltor

    >>Estonia is one of my “7 New Safe Havens for 2015″,<<

    I wouldn't call it "safe" with mr. Putin knocking on the haven door (pun intended).

    Reply
    • Max

      oh come on)

      Reply
  2. dfjkbvdjkf

    Although silver coins bought from Estonia are VAT free, they incur a massive mark-up of almost 19% (i.e. nearly the same as VAT) over the spot price. This compares to a mark up of 5% on 1oz. gold coins.

    Someone would seem to be making a lot of money from selling silver at much higher margins than gold.

    Reply
    • susan custer

      You should complain! In the UK there’s also a 19% (at least) mark up on silver AND 20% VAT on all of that!

      Reply
  3. Junaux

    Could you please share the name of the gold coin store please. Useful post
    Thanks in advance!
    Josu

    Reply
  4. William

    What about the possibility to buy gold coins in Switzerland or Liechtenstein ? Is it possible to directly buy coins in banks (without any extra fee) ? and is it possible to pay in euros (even if it’s not the national currency) ?

    Reply
  5. Jochum

    Hi Andrew,

    Read your piece and I must tell you you are not completely right about vat free or added bullion.
    In the Netherlands we don’t pay tax on bullion ( Cook Island bars) and coins with monetary value on it.
    This way it is very normal to buy silver tax free. Check the different prices on the same website of Amsterdamgold.com where a 1kg bar of cook island is different in price than a other non- monetary stated bar. Also the coins are tax free.
    Just to enrich your knowledge.
    Happy to meet you if you ever visit Amsterdam.

    Reply
  6. Eglė

    Thank you.

    Reply
  7. Greg Linton

    Actually in Germany you pay 7% for government issued coins with a face value.

    Reply
  8. VanDijk

    In the Netherlands you only pay VAT on silver Bullions, 21 %.
    Silver coins and gold coins & bullions are VAT free.

    Reply
  9. Will

    What information can I get on selling gold bars. These are in Germany and privately owned by a US citizen currently in Germany and must be dealt with prior to returning home.

    Reply
    • Tyrone

      Just go to any gold dealer and you’ll get a wad of cash hassle free!

      If you want the money transferred to a bank account I recommend you go to a gold manufacturer like Degussa in Frankfurt.. they can generally send to any IBAN account in Europe.

      Reply
  10. Vipin Chandra Pandey

    I am vipin pandey from India I am interested in your product silver bars 100kg price me

    Reply
    • John Andrews

      hello Sir, give me curry I give you silver, ok?

      Reply
      • Johnstone

        Bloody stupid answer.

        Reply
  11. Richard

    If you buy silver coins in The Netherlands, Germany or Belgium most dealers would apply the margin scheme where ass they only pay vat on their own profits. Compared to silver bars that are charged (fully) with vat, silver coins are much cheaper.
    Most common coins like maple leafs and especially backdated coins that dealers buy and sell from private customers are cheap at roughly 10% over spot. My favorite dealer is The Silver Mountain in The Netherlands and they offer a very enlightning guide at their website where you can compare pricing and premiums. Check: https://www.thesilvermountain.nl/en/precious-metals-guide/

    As you can see you buy silver maple leaf coins at the best price and they also offer a buy back guarantee at spot+8% (!) so their spread – if you buy and sell – is a total of 10%. Basically a premium of 5% when you buy as well as 5% when you sell, which is much less than the 19% mentioned in the UK.

    As long as you stick to legal tender well known coins you should be good.

    Reply
  12. Mike Stenford

    The information described above is misleading. You can buy and store gold and silver in Germany without VAT. You just don’t get to hold the silver in your own hands without paying VAT. But do you need to? Secondly. The blogger suggests VAT fraud by covertly importing silver from Estonia? This is an unlawful proposal. The next point is that in Germany buy/sell spread on silver is generally enormous, but buy/sell spread on gold is generally very small.

    Reply

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