How to get a refund on the Mexican IVA

The IVA, or impuesto al valor agregado, is Mexico’s 15% value-added tax. Several months ago, I heard that it was possible for extranjeros, like me, to get a refund of the IVA for large purchases. This holiday, on my return trip to the U.S., I decided to see whether this was actually true. So, on the day of my flight back, I took a bunch of receipts with me to the airport and gave myself some extra time after checking in to see if I could secure a refund.

The company that handles the refunds is called Yvesam and, according to their informative, but neither attractive nor functional website, they have two very small booths located in Terminal One of Mexico City’s International Airport. After checking in, I found one, and asked for a refund on several purchases (ok, ok… tequila). I had to haggle with the guy at the desk for a few minutes, but the bottom line is that, yes, it is possible to get the IVA refunded for many purchases, less a 35%(!) “convenience” (read: “government corruption”) fee.

What to do:

  • Pay with credit card; use the same card for all purchases and save both itemized receipts (that show IVA) and the credit card slips
  • The day of your international flight, check in and then bring your passport, credit card, and receipts to one of the two booths at the airport. One is located right outside the international check-in lounge for Mexicana, by Puerto 7. Unfortunately, the booth is only open during regular business hours (like 9 to 6), so early morning departures are, apparently, ineligible for the IVA refund.
  • Be prepared for some bureaucracy… it helps to be patient!


  • Each individual receipt must be for at least 1250 pesos (or so)
  • You are supposed to be taking the purchases with you on your flight. So, if you’re not, if may help to check a bag first and then feign ignorance!
  • If you can’t prove that each of the purchases were made by credit card (bring the slips!), then the total purchases can only be 3000 pesos.
  • According to the website, refunds may be limited to certain stores… but I didn’t have any trouble with this.

So, despite the 35% corruption charge, this means that it’s cheaper for me to buy tequila in the city at an Europea and get an IVA refund than to buy it duty-free at the airport. That, I have to say, is alright.

South San Francisco, CA