Tax refund information for private individuals
As a visitor to France you can claim a tax refund (for value added tax, or VAT) on eligible goods you take home.
I. Who is eligible?
You qualify for a tax refund if:
You do not qualify for a tax refund if:
II. What are considered eligible goods?
Goods must meet these requirements to be eligible:
There is no refund for tax you paid on:
III. How to get your tax refund?
At the store:
You should verify with the store, prior to your purchase, that it participates in the tax-free scheme (not all stores do).
If so, you will have to prove that you are not a resident of the European Union and that you are 15 years old or over. This may be done, if you are not a French citizen, by showing any kind of legal identification in use in your country or, if you are a French national, by showing a consular ID or any other official document attesting that you are not a resident of the European Union.
You will then be issued a Retail Export Form ("bordereau de détaxe") that you must sign and which must be endorsed by Customs within three months of the purchase, when you leave the European Union.
Note: Effective 1 January 2014, all VAT refund forms will be issued using the PABLO system. The form will bear a Pablo logo, indicating that it can be validated in an automated Pablo kiosk at certain French ports of entry.
• if you are leaving the European Union from a French port of entry:
You are likely to see an automated Pablo kiosk. Insert your détaxe form(s) one at a time into the slot, and wait for the screen to indicate that the form has been validated ("OK Bordereau validé"). The system will automatically notify the store where your goods were purchased, and your refund will then be processed. You do not need to mail anything to the store when Pablo has validated your form.
In the event that a Pablo kiosk is not available (or not working), you should present the Retail Export Form as well as the goods purchased under the tax-free scheme to a Customs agent. They will retain a copy of the form and you will be handed back a copy, endorsed by Customs, which you are advised to retain in case of any possible dispute with the store.
• if you are leaving the European Union from a port of entry in another Member State (outside France):
You should make sure that the local Customs Service endorses the Retail Export Form and gives them back to you. Upon arrival in your country, you should mail a copy of the form to the French store and keep the "customer" copy in case of any possible dispute with the store.
WARNING! Do not forget to keep the goods with you at all times when you apply for Customs endorsement of the Retail Export Form at the point of departure from the European Union. Customs officers may want to check them.
You should allow ample time (for instance, at least two hours before the time required for checking-in at the airport) to apply for Customs endorsement of the Retail Export Form. At Paris (CDG and Orly) or at Nice-Côte d'Azur Airports, for example, there may be long lines of travelers waiting to get this endorsement, especially during the tourist season.
If you fail to get through this formality before you leave the European Union, it will be burdensome – and expensive – for you to claim the tax refund when you are back home (see further on).
You should receive, in a reasonable time frame, the amount of refunded tax directly from the store, paid according to your instructions, given on the Retail Export Form (check mailed to your address, bank transfer to your checking account or to your credit card account, etc.). If you don't receive your tax refund, you have to contact the store and not the French Customs.
Some stores may deduct the tax from the price of goods when you purchase them. They do so under their own responsibility and you are still required to apply for Customs endorsement of your Retail Export Form upon leaving the European Union, even if you did not pay tax on the goods.
Question: May I still claim the tax refund if the Retail Export Form has not been endorsed by Customs upon my leaving the European Union?
You may. The process is time-consuming; it may turn out to be more expensive than the amount of tax refund that you are claiming.
Within 6 months after the date of purchase of your goods, you must address a tax refund request to:
Direction Générale des Douanes et Droits Indirects
This request MUST be supported by the following documents:
If your application is adjudicated as justified, you will be mailed an endorsed "customer" copy of the Retail Export Form. The Customs will mail the other copy to the store, which will, in turn, refund you the VAT.
French Consulate-General Locations
Consulat général de France à Sydney
Moncton & Halifax
Consulat général de France à Moncton & Halifax
Consulat général de France à Montréal
Service consulaire de l'ambassade de France au Canada
Consulat général de France à Québec
Consulat général de France à Toronto
Consulat général de France à Vancouver
Embassy of France in Wellington
Consulat général de France à Atlanta
Consulat général de France à Boston
Consulat général de France à Chicago
Consulat général de France à Houston
Consulat général de France à Los Angeles
Consulat général de France à Miami
Consulat général de France à la Nouvelle-Orléans
Consulat général de France à New York
Consulat général de France à San Francisco
Consulat général de France à Washington
Source: Embassy of France in Washington