Non-EU residents are eligible to receive a refund of the Value Added Tax (VAT, or détaxe TVA in French) on goods purchased in France. This is 12-15% for regular goods, up to 33% for luxury goods (no refunds applicable for services, food, beverages, tobacco products, postage stamps, weapons, cultural treasures, or consumer vehicles).
How it Works
- Find a participating store (not every store wants to bother with the paperwork, nor are they required); all department stores and most luxury shops offer the refund. Look for the Tax-Free or Détaxe sticker on the door of smaller boutiques.
- Spend over €175 within one store on the same day.
- The shop assistant will fill out a special form (you’ll need your passport or a copy) that you need to keep with your receipt.
- Have the form validated at the interactive PABLO kiosk at the airport/train station/port before leaving the EU. Give yourself an extra hour for this when traveling in case there are lines. Have the items purchased handy in case customs agents want to see them. Mail the form back to the store (many provide pre-addressed envelopes for this) within three months to receive the refund by credit card or check.
For more info you can visit the French customs website or this handy VAT Refund Process chart. Some people actually find the hassle isn’t worth the refund. For you to decide…
Note on Customs Regulations: As a returning resident of the US you may take $800 dollars worth of gifts and may include in your duty-free exemption one US quart of hard liquor or wine if you are 21, up to 100 cigars (non cuban), and up to 200 cigarettes. An additional $1000 worth of goods will be dutiable at a flat rate of 3%. Alcohol, perfume and tobacco are prohibited by mail.. Persons living in a Member State of the European Union are not restricted in regard to purchasing goods for private use, but the recommended allowances for alcoholic beverages and tobacco are regulated, so check before you stock up on those cancer sticks!