Whilst you are on the strength of British Forces Germany, you are entitled to purchase goods tax free through the BFG Central Official Procurement Agencies (OPAs). For purchases made from a German company, you will be issued with a Local Purchase Order (Antrag) and an Abwicklungsschein. For purchases under €2500 net you may pay at point of purchase and for goods bought that are over €2500 net, the OPA will purchase on your behalf and you pay the OPA.
There is a system for purchasing goods tax free in other EU states. The qualifying rules are laid down in Directive 2006/112/EC Article 151 and Directive 2008/118/EC Article 13. This system is the equivalent to the LPO and Abwicklungsschein that is used in Germany and the restrictions on what you may claim VAT relief for are the same as in SO BFG 5203.
The important difference between the Article Form 151 is that VAT relief may only be claimed on goods (and not services) and they must be delivered to BFPO, not to a civilian address (e.g. your SFA). As in Germany, it is not mandatory for suppliers to accept Article 151, however if you approach a retailer and explain the system, most will refund the VAT to you. VAT is normally claimed back in retrospect, that is, the goods are received and paid for, before the 151 is issued. Some larger companies will zero rate the goods and only invoice the tax free amount, once again you will have to negotiate that with the company.
Goods purchased tax free from outside the EU (e.g. USA, Canada, China etc.), will normally be held in bonded storage in Germany until you can prove your entitlement. You should do so by means of a Special Certificate to Import Personal Belongings (BFG Form 80). You can download an application form (BFG Form 60) from BFGnet.
You should also note that when you purchase goods over €1000 net, you must request a BFG Form 80 import certificate. The goods must be presented to BFG Customs and Immigration when you receive them to complete the import process. This notice also excludes the tax free purchase of a motor vehicle, which is subject to other specific processes and restrictions. Updated information regarding BFG customs matters are regularly published in the Sixth Sense newspaper and on BFGnet.