Foreign Diplomats Buying Exempt

The U.S. Diplomatic Tax Exemption Program provides diplomatic tax exemption cards (DTEC) to eligible foreign diplomats, consular officers and staff members. The U.S. Office of Foreign Missions sets the levels of tax exemption, and the levels can vary based on international reciprocity.

DTECs provide a point-of-sale exemption from Idaho sales tax and other similar taxes. Cards contain text on the front and back showing the level of exemption authorized, including degrees of restriction such as a minimum purchase requirement.

“Mission Tax Exemption – Official Purchases Only”

DTECs labeled with this text allow foreign missions to buy items necessary for the mission’s operations and functions exempt from sales and other similar taxes. Cardholders must pay for all purchases with a check, credit card or wire transfer in the name of the foreign mission.

“Personal Tax Exemption”

DTECs labeled with this text allow eligible foreign mission members and their dependents to make personal purchases in the United States exempt from sales and other similar taxes. Sellers can only sell tax-exempt to the individual identified and pictured on the card. The cardholder can’t transfer or loan the card to any other person, even if that person also is eligible to buy exempt. The cardholder can use any form of payment.

Documenting sales to foreign diplomats

The cardholder must present the card in person at the time of purchase. The seller can verify the card’s validity at or by calling the federal government’s Office of Foreign Missions during business hours.

Sellers should document why they didn’t charge tax on a sale to a foreign diplomat by doing any of the following:

  • Photocopy the front and back of the tax exemption card.
  • Record the diplomat’s name, the mission he or she represents, the federal tax exemption number, the card’s expiration date and what they sold tax exempt.
  • If they sold to someone with a diplomatic tax exemption card labeled as “Mission Tax Exemption – Official Purchases Only,” sellers should document the payment type — check, credit card or wire transfer — in the name of the foreign mission.