Understanding the Tax Refund Service in France and Galeries Lafayette new Self Service Tax Back Refund Machines

tax back refund service in Paris

One thing I love about shopping in Paris is taking advantage the tax refund service in France. Many people think the tax refund service in France is complicated when in reality it’s very simple and it’s made even simpler by Galeries Lafayette. I’ve broken down this article into 3 simple categories, what is VAT tax, how do you qualify for the tax refund, how do you submit and file the tax refund paperwork.

gossip girl shopping in paris

What are VAT Tax and Tax Back Refund Services?

VAT Tax is very similar to Sales Tax. The main difference between VAT tax and Sales tax is VAT tax is already included into the goods and services on the price tag. VAT Tax can range anywhere from 2% to 33%.

Tax Back Refund is the refund you receive from the government on the tax you paid for your item.

How do you qualify for the tax refund service in France?

There are a few requirements for the VAT Tax Refund that you must follow in order to claim your tax refund:

  1. Spend more than 175.01 Euros in the same store, the same day
  2. Cannot be a member of the EU (European Union)
  3. Must be older than 15
  4. Must not be in France longer than 6 months
  5. Make sure you have your passport with you the time of the purchase

How do you submit and File the Tax Refund Paperwork

tax back refund machine in France

Once you purchase something for more than 175 Euros ask for the VAT “Detaxe” Form. (Ask the sales associate for this if they do not automatically give it to you)

Galeries Lafayette now self-service tax back refund machines that take you step by step through the process of filling your tax back refunds. When you are processing the paperwork at the self-service kiosk you have the ability to get the VAT tax back immediately in cash or you can have it added back to your credit card which can take up to 3 months. If you want cash back immediately you receive 10.8% of your purchases back as long as you depart from the EU within 21 days. If you decide to wait and have it refunded on your credit card you will receive 12% cash back.

When you are using the self service tax back refund machine at Galeries Lafayette, it will prompt you step by step what documents you need to scan and will tell you the amount you will receive back.

Once you finish with the tax refund machine it will provide you will some paperwork. Make sure you take the paperwork and the envelope to drop it off at the airport. When you arrive to the airport there will be boxes at these locations:

At Paris-Orly
South Terminal: Departures level, gate G
West Terminal: Arrivals level, gate E

At Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Terminal 1: CDGVAL level, hall 6
Terminal 2A: Departures level, gate 5
Terminal 2C: Departures level, gate 12
Terminal 2D: Departures level, gate 6
Terminal 2E: Departures level, gate 4
Terminal 2F: Arrivals level
Terminal 3: Departures level, airside

tax back in Paris steps

GALERIES LAFAYETTE PARIS HAUSSMANN:

Address · 40, Boulevard Haussmann 75009 PARIS

Store Hours · Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 8.30pm
& Sundays from 11am to 7pm

Website · Galeries Lafayette Haussmann Paris

Sincerely Petite in Paris,

Petite in Paris Diane

 

27 Comments

  1. Theresa McGrath
    July 22, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    I forgot to register my VAT refund at the airport , I am now back in Canada what do I do?

    View Comment
    • July 22, 2018 / 6:06 pm

      Dear Theresa,

      Yes you can still receive your VAT refund tax. It’s a little longer of a process, but I’ve outlined it below for you

      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
      Fiscalité, transports et politiques fiscales communautaires (bureau F1)
      11, rue des Deux Communes
      93558 Montreuil
      France

      This request MUST be supported by the following documents:

      – A copy of your passport;
      – A copy of your travel ticket or your boarding pass;
      – An “attestation de présentation des marchandises” issued by a French Consulate. In order to get this document you must go to the Consulate with the goods you bought, your passport and your plane ticket – OR –
      – The U.S. Customs or Canadian Customs declaration you made for those goods when entering your country;
      – A letter with explanations of the reasons why you were not able to get your form stamped when leaving France
      – The Retail Export Form.

      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.

      Hope that helps!
      Diane

      View Comment
  2. Alejandro C Duarte
    July 24, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    Hey, I went to the airport and went to the global blue for VAT, she stamped it, and she told me to drop it off the mail box.
    This was June 15th of 2018, and i still haven’t received any VAT refund back onto my credit card.
    WHO AND HOW do I get ahold of someone for this.
    Any number to contact. I’m from the US.

    View Comment
    • July 25, 2018 / 5:28 am

      Hello Alejandro,

      Typically the VAT tax can take up to 3 months.

      To check the status of the your refund go to this site to track your refund

      https://secure.globalblue.com/tax-free-shopping/refund-tracker

      ( or if you used Premier Tax Free https://premiertaxfree.com/track-my-refund)

      If after 3 months has passed I would first contact your credit card company. In addition Some of the larger shops process their own VAT refunds, in which case the payment would be from the shop. I would suggest you follow-up with the shop.

      Lastly here is the VAT Phone number you can call: +44 2920 501 261

      Hope that helps!
      Diane

      View Comment
  3. Michelle
    August 9, 2018 / 3:59 am

    Hi Diane,

    What if I went to visit another EU country (Greece) after shopping in Paris before returning home (the US)? Do I still follow your steps – get VAT refund at Galeries Lafayette and then mail the form at Orly airport? Or do I have to do my VAT refund in Greece?

    Thanks!

    View Comment
    • August 9, 2018 / 7:24 am

      Hello Michelle,

      Thank you for your message.

      You only file your VAT refund back when you leave the EU (Schengen Area). So if you go straight from Paris to Greece then you would file in Greece. However, if you decided to do the cash back option as oppose to waiting for the credit on your credit card, you would do that immediately and get the cash back instantly, then you would drop the form off in Greece.

      Make sure you get there plenty of time in advance to locate the VAT refund machines, typically they are by the departures.

      Hope that helps, safe travels, and Happy Shopping! 🙂
      Diane

      View Comment
  4. August 9, 2018 / 5:32 pm

    Hi, I am going to another EU country after France before returning home to the US. After I do my VAT refund process at Galeries Lafayette, where do I get the customs stamp (at Orly airport in France or the next country before returning home)?

    Thanks!

    View Comment
    • August 10, 2018 / 7:06 am

      Hello Michelle,

      Thank you for your message. You will get the customs stamp at the next country before you go home.

      The custom stamp is provided when you scan your documents at the VAT refund machine at the airport 🙂

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Diane

      View Comment
  5. Fiona
    August 15, 2018 / 5:37 am

    Hello Diane,

    thanks so much for your blogpost!
    I still have some questions after reading your comments/replies.

    I processed the paperwork at Galeries Lafeyette’s self service kiosks, and had the VAT stamp at an austrian airport, however was told they cannot process the refund as its not Global Blue. Do I post it back to the address you mentioned in your reply to Theresa? I also don’t have my boarding pass anymore. Also don’t I also need to post my receipt?

    Thank you!

    View Comment
    • August 19, 2018 / 6:33 pm

      Hello Fiona,

      Great question. Yes please follow the information I provided Theresa. If you don’t have your boarding pass please check with the airline. Many times you are able to request a receipt your boarding pass, or still print it off online. Yes, please include your receipt as well.

      Also, it’s important to mention for others, that sometimes you have to check with the Premier tax free section instead of Global Blue (Depends on where you filed the taxes)

      Kind Regards,
      Diane

      View Comment
  6. Tune
    August 15, 2018 / 5:01 pm

    Is there max amount that i can get back in VAT.. like im getting 3 LV purses.. what would be the best way going back to US.

    also is there a limit on how many handbags you can buy like in UK (3 bags in 6 months)?

    View Comment
    • August 19, 2018 / 6:34 pm

      Hello Tune,

      Thank you for the message. No there isn’t an amount like there is in the UK. However, some high end luxury stores will limit how many bags they sell you, for example I believe Hermes limits it to 2 a year with the same passport. Also, keep in mind the more items you have the more likely it is you will get searched when you go through customs so just make sure you have all the information / products readily available!

      Have fun shopping!
      Diane

      View Comment
  7. GH
    August 31, 2018 / 3:11 pm

    Hello Diane,

    It has been about 5 weeks or so that I came back from London. As I went to Paris and shop in Galaries Lafayette, I did a tax refund at London airport. As currently now is using the machine to process and to receive the documents, do I still have to mail the receipt to global blue? My receipt have to no stamp,,, Like my Printemps and Selfridges receipt both have stamp… I also remember that I have a customer copy of the tax refund form from Galaries Lafayette but I am unable to track it at Global Blues… Does this mean that I have to mail the receipt to global blue now or so? Will they give any copy of the tax refund form(Customer copy)?

    View Comment
    • September 8, 2018 / 8:54 am

      Hello GH,

      When you were at the airport, did you drop the paperwork into the box to be processed or did you take it with you?

      Thanks!
      Diane

      View Comment
  8. Wendy Au
    September 8, 2018 / 7:42 am

    Bonjour Diane,

    I bought something from Chanel Galeries Lafayette Haussmann on 15 June 2018.

    I went to the your tax refund counter to collect the summary. of tax refund Then I went to CDG airport and had it stamped after the self check kiosk denied approval. Then I dropped it in the box . I have not received the tax refund.. I tried to track through Globalblue & Premier tax free but to no avail. I think my refund form said something like Pablo.

    Can you advise me? Thanks

    View Comment
    • September 8, 2018 / 8:56 am

      Bonjour Wendy,

      Great question, when you went through the process did anyone manually approve it? Also, if it said Pablo on the form did you take it to the Pablo Kioski?

      You are still under the 3 month window from when you processed it, sometimes it takes longer especially in the summer due to all the tourist coming to Paris.

      Kind Regards,
      Diane

      Diane Coletta
      Petite in Paris

      View Comment
  9. Kristine
    September 8, 2018 / 12:34 pm

    Hi Diane,

    I bought a wallet at Galeries Lafayette and I processed my tax form at the pablo kiosk at CDG but I just realized that I forgot to send the paper in the mailbox at the airport. Do you think I should just mail it back to France from the U.S.?

    View Comment
  10. PAN LI
    September 10, 2018 / 8:33 am

    I haven’t scan my passport and tax refund form in the self tax refund machine after i finish the tax free process, so i didn’t get my cash from the machine, and now i have been back to China, what can i do to retrieve the loss? thanks

    View Comment
    • September 11, 2018 / 3:56 pm

      Dear Pan,

      Below is the process on how you would receive your tax refund now that you are back in China

      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
      Fiscalité, transports et politiques fiscales communautaires (bureau F1)
      11, rue des Deux Communes
      93558 Montreuil
      France

      This request MUST be supported by the following documents:

      – A copy of your passport;
      – A copy of your travel ticket or your boarding pass;
      – An “attestation de présentation des marchandises” issued by a French Consulate. In order to get this document you must go to the Consulate with the goods you bought, your passport and your plane ticket – OR –
      – The U.S. Customs or Canadian Customs declaration you made for those goods when entering your country;
      – A letter with explanations of the reasons why you were not able to get your form stamped when leaving France
      – The Retail Export Form.

      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.

      Hope that helps!
      Diane

      Diane Coletta
      Petite in Paris

      View Comment
  11. Vicki
    September 11, 2018 / 3:50 pm

    Hi Diane,

    I bought the Chanel wallet from galeries Lafayette and did the tax refund there. I received cash back already. But the last EU country I left was Spain. I had the tax form stamped from the Barcelona airport customs. Do I need to mail this back? And to what address? I lost my envelope. Thank you.

    View Comment
    • September 11, 2018 / 3:57 pm

      Dear Vicki,

      Did you drop your envelope into the box when you were at the airport? If not I’ve outlined the process below

      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
      Fiscalité, transports et politiques fiscales communautaires (bureau F1)
      11, rue des Deux Communes
      93558 Montreuil
      France

      This request MUST be supported by the following documents:

      – A copy of your passport;
      – A copy of your travel ticket or your boarding pass;
      – An “attestation de présentation des marchandises” issued by a French Consulate. In order to get this document you must go to the Consulate with the goods you bought, your passport and your plane ticket – OR –
      – The U.S. Customs or Canadian Customs declaration you made for those goods when entering your country;
      – A letter with explanations of the reasons why you were not able to get your form stamped when leaving France
      – The Retail Export Form.

      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.

      I hope that helps,
      Diane

      Diane Coletta
      Petite in Paris

      View Comment
  12. Tanya
    October 15, 2018 / 5:07 am

    I went shopping at The Galeries Lafayette Paris on 12/09/2018. I made claims tax refund at Fiumicino airport before I leaving E.U. On 24/09/2018. The custom’ve stamped the receipt already and then I drop it off in the mailbox. I haven’t get money back via my card yet. When I get money back?

    Best regards
    Tanya

    View Comment
    • Diane
      October 15, 2018 / 6:18 am

      Dear Tanya,

      Great question! I understand how it can be frustrating not receiving your tax back immediately, but the tax refund can take up to 3 months. The reason it can take that long is because during the busy season there are many more tax refund forms being submitted. Hope that answers your question!

      Kind Regards,
      Diane
      Petite in Paris

      View Comment
  13. kini
    October 27, 2018 / 8:25 am

    Hi Diane,

    My friend bought the Monclear from galeries Lafayette,paris and did the tax refund there. She received cash back already. She had only one documentaion from kiosk, no envelope. She will leave at Frankfurt, the last EU country today. She is very nervous where tax form have to be sent after stamping from airport customs. Dose she need to mail this back? And to what address? Or is there mail box for this tax form? Because there is not company name of tax refund in her tax form. So we don’t know which mail box is for lafayette. Very urgently situation. please reply if you see this message as soon as possible

    View Comment
    • October 28, 2018 / 1:48 pm

      Hello Kini,

      Thank you for your question. There should be a place for your friend to drop it off in a box at the Frankford airport. I would recommend your friend arrives early to located the tax back, and she can ask questions.

      Please make sure you ask someone when you are there so they can drop the box in the correct mail box.

      Hope that helps.

      Kind Regards,
      Diane

      Diane Coletta
      Petite in Paris

      View Comment
  14. Ybur
    October 28, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Hi,
    I purchased Gucci bag at Galleries Lafayette (Paris) last October, 12, 2018. Galleries tax section, gave me the tax form with all the details and my signature, and they told me that the form needs to be scanned in the CDG airport and drop it in the box. When I was in CDG airport on the tax refund section, I had the form scanned, the staff assisted me to do the scanning told me that no need to drop the form as scanning is sufficient. But until now I still haven’t received the credit of refund to my credit card. I also purchased LV items in the Louis Vuitton Champs Elysee store but within few days the credit for tax refund already shown in my credit card. So is it normal that it really has delay in the refund for Gallleries? Is it okey that I didn’t drop the form but scanning is enough as the form is still with me here back home?

    Thanks in advance for reply.

    View Comment
    • October 28, 2018 / 1:55 pm

      Dear Ybur,

      Great question! I understand how it can be frustrating not receiving your tax back immediately, especially considering you already received your tax back from Louis Vuitton but the tax refund can take up to 3 months. The reason it can take that long is because during the busy season there are many more tax refund forms being submitted. If the staff told you you didn’t need to drop the form into the mail box that means it was able to be scanned digitally. Hope that answers your question!

      Kind Regards,
      Diane
      Petite in Paris

      View Comment

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