How to Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris!

Welcome to the ultimate guide on How To Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris! Did you know buying European Designer Brands are cheaper if you buy them in Paris? You may be wondering, how is that possible? You're in luck because I’m going to explain to you in full detail how to buy luxury brands between 10-35% off in Paris vs the US. 

How to Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris
How to Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris, France

For years now, I’ve been telling my friends and family to come visit me and Paris and go shopping because Luxury brands and designer brands are cheaper in Europe vs the US. As someone who loves shopping and loves to save money on luxury brands, this is one of the best kept secrets on how luxury brands are 10-35% Cheaper in Paris vs US. I’m going to break it down for you as simply as possible to explain how it is cheaper to shop for luxury brands in Paris, France. 

Below I get into more detail about which designer brands are cheaper in Paris VS The US, but some of the most popular designer brands that are cheaper in Paris include, Hermes, Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and many more! 

Why European Designer Brands are more expensive in the US

Photo of NYC from above
Photo of NYC © bbbu_ca

In order for European designer brands to be sold in the US, the brand has to pay a special tax called import tax (tariff tax). According to the Taxation and Customs Union the tax amount varies from product to product, however, on average a European designer brand has to pay roughly between 2-10% in import tax to be able to sell their luxury products in the US. This cost is passed on to the consumer and is reflected in the price, thus making European Designer Brands more expensive in the US.

In fact in 2020, according to the US Government, the US almost raised the import taxes on luxury goods by 25%, but luckily this extra luxury import tax didn’t go through.

Let’s not forget about the transportation costs these companies have to pay in order to transport their products to the US from Paris. Both the import tax and the transportation costs are all built into the European luxury brand pricing in the US. 

On top of the import tax / transportation costs, in most states (minus Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon) you have to pay an additional sales tax. A majority of these luxury brands are located in some of the most expensive State Sales tax states. For example, California has a 7.25% Sales tax on luxury brands and NYC has an 8.875% Sales Tax on luxury brands. 

In short, the Import tax (tariff tax), international transportation costs, and the state Sales tax for European designer brands cause the price of luxury brands to be more expensive in the US vs Paris, France. Now let’s take a more detailed look on how to receive the VAT tax refund in Paris when you purchase anything over 100 Euros from luxury brands.

How to Receive the VAT Tax Refund in Paris

How the digital VAT Tax Refund works in Paris
Wevat VAT Tax Refund Application Paris, France © Wevat

When you go shopping in Paris, France, you do not have to pay the import tax, transportation costs or State sales tax that you would in the US. The best part is if you purchase something from a designer brand in Paris and spend over 100 Euros, you actually receive a 12% refund.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but let me explain in more detail. As a tourist visiting Paris, you are refunded a tax that locals are required to pay called VAT Tax. This is a built-in tax on all goods in Paris. Unlike the US, which gives you the price of an item then at the end when you go to pay the sales associate, there is added Sales Tax. In France, when you look at the price of an item, the VAT tax is already built into the price. 

Price comparisons between Paris, France and US

Now for the fun part, let’s use some real life items and numbers and I can show you the exact price difference on some of the most popular luxury brands in Paris, France. Keep in mind that the VAT tax refund process accounts for roughly 12% refund! Today, we will be taking a look at 2 examples, A Burberry Trench Coat from Galeries Lafayette, and a Gucci Jackie 1961 Bag size small bought at Gucci. Pricing as of March 2022!

Galeries Lafayette – Burberry Trench Coat  (Long Chelsea Heritage Trench)

Burberry Trench Coat Price difference USA VS Paris
Paris, France Pricing
Euro Pricing€1850
Euro Pricing after VAT Tax refund:
(1850 Euros – 12%)
€1602
Converted to USD$1790
NYC, USA Pricing
USA Pricing$2250
USA Pricing after Sales Tax (NYC):
($2,250 + 8.875%)
$2449
Price Difference
($2,449 – $1,790)
$659
Percentage Difference36%

As you can see from the table above, if you buy the same Burberry Trench Coat at Galeries Lafayette in Paris vs NYC after the VAT Tax refund, it will be $659 cheaper in Paris VS The USA. This is the perfect example for how to save money shopping for designer brands in Paris, France.

Gucci Jackie 1961 Bag Size Small

Which designer brands are cheaper in Paris
How to Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris, France
Paris, France Pricing
Euro Pricing€2200
Euro Pricing after VAT Tax refund:
(2200 Euros – 12%)
€1905
Converted to USD$2129
NYC, USA Pricing
USA Pricing$2600
USA Pricing after Sales Tax (NYC):
($2,600 + 8.875%)
$2831
Price Difference
($2,831 – $2,219)
$702
Percentage Difference33%

If you buy the Gucci Jackie 1961 Bag Size small, it will be $702 cheaper in Paris vs USA after the VAT tax refund! Can you believe how much cheaper these brands are in Europe?

As you can see from the two examples, European luxury brands are at least 30% cheaper in Paris, and some even more. I didn’t anticipate both the Burberry trench coat from Galeries Lafayette and the Gucci Jackie 1961 bag being that much cheaper in Paris!

Which European Designer brands are cheaper in Paris vs US?

Designer Brands Are Cheaper in Paris
How to Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris, France

I’ve outlined the most popular designer brands, jewelry brands and department stores that are cheaper to go shopping at in Paris vs the US. 

The most popular designer brands that are cheaper in Paris vs the US are the following: Alexander McQueen, Armani, Balenciaga, Balmain, Berluti, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Celine, Chanel, Chloe, Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Goyard, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Longchamp, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tom Ford, Valentino, YSL / Saint Laurent 

The most popular designer jewelry brands that are cheaper in Paris vs the US are Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet, De Grace. And Van Cleef & Arpel. 

The most popular designer department stores that qualify for the Wevat digital VAT Tax Refund in Paris are Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marche, Printemps, and even Disneyland Paris.

When trying to determine which designer brands are cheaper in Paris vs the US, the best thing to think about is where that brand is headquartered. More likely than not if the brand is headquartered in Europe than it will be cheaper in Paris vs the US. The European designer items that are cheaper in Paris vs the US include bags, clothes, jewelry, luggage, and anything the European designer sells.

Tips and Tricks for buying Designer Brands at a Discount in Europe

How to Save Money While Shopping in Paris
How to Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris

Over the years, I’ve received tons of feedback on the process of buying European Designer brands at a discount in Europe. And tips and tricks to make the VAT refund process easier for you

  1. When purchasing designer bags or luxury goods, pay for those goods in the local currency (aka Euros). Many times credit cards will actually charge you an additional fee to do the currency conversion from EURO to USD
  2. If you are traveling between multiple European Union Countries, drop off the VAT tax refund at your final location before departing the EU.  
  3. The UK is no longer part of the EU, so if you are traveling back to the US out of London then you must submit the VAT documents in an EU country before returning to London
  4. Ask for your VAT TAX Refund, and bring your passport shopping

Recap on How to Save Money Shopping for Designer Brands in Paris, France vs USA

digital vat tax refund in Paris
Sitting at a Cafe with an iphone

In short, European designer brands are cheaper in Paris, France. The reason European luxury brands are cheaper in Paris vs the US is because when you buy a designer brand in the US the price already has the built-in import tax (tax tariff), transportation costs and then you have to pay the sales tax, which varies state to state. 

The way I look at it is simple, you are already going to be spending the money to buy a designer bag or buy something from European designer brands, if you take into account your savings by purchasing them in Europe, many times it covers a big portion of your European trip to Paris! Or you could always use those savings to buy an additional accessory or luxury item!

Sincerely Petite in Paris,

Diane 

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