The city’s fashion spectrum ranges from premium shopping on Kurfürstendamm to urban thrift-shop fashion in eastern downtown Berlin.
If you’re keen on shopping sprees that last late into the evening, Berlin will be your shopping paradise. The major city has the loosest business hour regulations anywhere in Germany. The new Shop Opening Law allows any shop in Berlin to remain open for business around the clock from Monday to Saturday. In practice, almost all of the shops on the major shopping miles remain open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 8pm, and on certain days of the week may even stay open longer. Shops are permitted to open for business on eight Sundays a year, including some of the Sundays during Advent, from 1pm till 8pm.
Apart from a few exceptions (at airports and railway stations), all shops are closed Sundays. A limited range of food can still be bought at petrol stations and kiosks. Berlin’s Spätis are legendary: these late-night shops stay open round the clock to sell drinks for partygoers as well as items of daily use.
If you are visiting Berlin for your holidays from a non-EU country, you can recover the VAT paid on your shopping in Germany. This applies to any goods you have purchased for private use. The only exception are goods and parts for upgrading your vehicle (e.g. spare car parts). Germany’s regular VAT rate is 19% of the net price. The regular VAT rate also applies to all beverages except for milk and mineral water. Items of daily use, for example books, newspapers, food and art, are subject to the reduced VAT rate of 7%.
How tax-free shopping works
When paying in a shop, please ask for the Tax Free form issued by a Tax Free service provider working with the retailer. Keep this and the original invoices safe together. When leaving the country, present the filled-in forms and invoices to customs at the airport so that the customs agents can confirm export. To recover the VAT, it is important that purchased goods are exported from the EU within three months.
There are a number of ways to recover the paid VAT. One option is to have the amount paid out in cash at a Tax Free service provider’s or partner’s counter. Another option is to have the amount credited to your credit card’s account. Note, however, that in both cases the Tax Free service provider will deduct a service fee and in some cases also a cash fee for the cash option. More details on tax-free shopping and an overview of how to recover the VAT in Germany are available on the website of Premier Tax Free or by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Barrier-free access shops
The barrier-free design of many shopping centres such as the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, Galeria Kaufhof at Alexanderplatz or the KaDeWe at Wittenbergplatz make shopping simply delightful. Alexa at Alexanderplatz, with its wide aisles and lifts, also invites you to linger on its four storeys. If you’re eager to explore Berlin’s various districts, you can check to find out where there are shops with the “Berlin barrier-free” certificate. Thanks to the EU project “barrier-free shopping” in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the district has a particularly large number of shops on Bergmannstraße and Oranienstraße with wide doorways, level thresholds and interiors free of steps.
The Berlin label Rollitex specialises in supplying goods for people in wheelchairs. Wheelchair users are offered fashionable and comfortable clothing to suit any occasion.
For additional tips on barrier-free shopping, get in touch with our service centre.