2024 VAT Tax Refund Process in Paris, France

One question that I get asked frequently is how do I process the VAT tax refund in Paris? Many people assume the tax refund process in Paris is complicated, but rest assured it’s not. As long as you follow these simple steps, you will be receiving your VAT tax refund in no time.

VAT tax refund process in Paris
Diane Shopping © Petite in Paris

What is VAT Tax?

shopping in paris

VAT Tax stands for value added tax, meaning that any goods or services that are bought or sold for consumption in the European Union is subject to VAT tax. If you spend over €100.01 at a single store or department store, you are entitled to receive the Vat Tax refund.

How much is the VAT tax Refund?

On average, you will receive a 12% refund. There are some exceptions, for example, pharmacy goods offers a 10% refund, and if you purchase food and books you will receive 5.5% refund.

Who Qualifies for the VAT Tax Refund?

  1. You can not be a member of the European Union (EU). Meaning you aren’t living in an EU (European Union) country, living in Europe on a visa, nor have an EU passport or an EU Resident. 
  2. You must be 16 years of age or order
  3. You cannot be in a Europe Union country for more than 6 months
  4. At the time of your purchase, you must have your passport with you

What is the VAT tax refund process?

VAT TAX Refund paperwork

Simple Steps for Receiving VAT Tax Refund

  1. Go Shopping!
    • Spend over €100.01 in a Single Store or Department Store
  2. Request an Invoice
    • Request a VAT Tax Refund Document
    • Make sure you bring your passport
  3. Scan your Paperwork Before Leaving France/ EU
    • Submit your tax refund paperwork at the airport or train station
    • Make sure you have your purchases in your carry on for the customs officer to check (This doesn't always happen, but it can)
  4. Drop Form in the “Mailbox”
    • Drop your tax refund form in the mailbox at the refund station
  5. Receive your Refund!
    • Within the Next 30 – 90 days, you will receive your refund on the same credit card you purchased the item on

Using VAT TAX refund apps

Alternatively you can complete the VAT refund process digitally from your mobile phone. This allows to consolidate all your purchases from different shops into a single claim and avoid the min €100 restriction per transaction. 

The French Tax and Customs Authority have recently licensed a number of VAT refund apps, such as Airvat tax refund, in order to improve the tourist VAT refund experience and also enable tax-free shopping for online purchases. 

If you choose to use a VAT refund app, you don't need to show your passport at check-out but instead make sure to request an invoice addressed to your chosen refund app provider. 

Can I receive a Cash Refund?

Yes, you can receive a VAT Tax cash refund immediately in stores. Typically, only department stores offer the cashback immediately option. (Printemps, Bon Marche, Galeries Lafayette, BHV, etc). With the cash refund, you will receive your cash immediately at a lower percentage of 10.8% than the standard 12%. It is extremely important that you follow the refund process and still drop your paperwork off at the airport, or else they will charge your credit card with the refund amount they provided in store.

Which European Countries Qualifies for the VAT tax refund? 

These are the following European countries that qualify for the Vat Tax refund / Tax Free Shopping: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Countries that don’t qualify for the VAT tax refund: Switzerland, Norway, and the United Kingdom. 

How long does it take to receive my refund after I submit my paperwork?

tax refund passport
Passports for the tax refund process

The Vat Tax refund on average takes 30–90 days to process. If you are traveling to Paris and go shopping during the busy season, I've seen the refunds take 6 months. If you are traveling to Paris and go shopping during the off expect, expect to receive your refund quickly.

I'm traveling to multiple different countries, where do I submit my refund?

If you are traveling to multiple countries in the EU, you will submit your Vat Tax refund at the last country you are in before leaving the EU. For example, if you are traveling to France, then Amsterdam, then Germany you would file your paperwork at the Germany airport.

Do I need to bring my passport when I go shopping, or can I have a copy of it?

One of the most popular questions I get asked regarding the tax refund process in Paris, is “do you have to carry your passport or will a copy of it work?” Yes, for the tax refund process in Europe, you have to have your actual passport. What I highly recommend is get all your shopping in one day. That way, you aren’t carrying around your passport for multiple days.

Do I need to pack my boxes for Customs if I purchase Luxury Items

Chanel boxes tax refund process in Europe
© asafetypin

No, you do not need the box to show the Customs Officer, only the object that you purchased. After you purchase your luxury items in Paris, it's important that you keep these items in your carry on or readily available to show custom officers. Many times, the customs officer will ask to see your purchase(s). Items need to be unworn.

Where do I drop off the VAT tax form at the Paris airport? 

detaxe tax refund at CDG airport
detaxe tax refund at Paris Airport (CDG)

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

How Early Should I arrive to the Airport to process my Vat Tax Refund?

I highly recommend that you arrive at the airport at least an hour earlier than you were planning to process the Vat Tax Refund paperwork. Sometimes you can get lucky and there is no line, other times the line is very long.

Layovers, – Where to get your VAT TAX Stamp?

You will process the VAT refund paperwork in the country you leave from, not where the layover is.

Traveling to Multiple Countries

If you plan on visiting multiple countries while you would process the VAT TAX refund in the last EU country you are in. For example, if you are traveling to France, then Italy, then Netherlands, you will process all the VAT TAX paperwork from your shopping in France and Italy at the Netherlands airport. Make sure you get the paperwork from your shopping in France, Italy and Netherlands.

Where do I drop off the VAT tax form at the Gare du Nore train station? 

When you arrive at the EuroStar train station (if you are traveling to the UK), you can claim the VAT tax refund on the second floor after you go through security. Look for the sign. It is a self-automated machine. If you cannot find the machine, then I highly recommend you ask. Make sure you do this before you leave the EU in order to receive your tax refund at the Gare du Nore train station.

What if I'm traveling to Switzerland, leaving from Gare De Lyon?

It is very important to know that if you are leaving from Gare De Lyon, there is NO “detaxe” refund machine available at the station. Instead of submitting the paperwork prior to boarding the train, you will process all your forms and paperwork while on board the train.

  • The Tax Refund Paperwork happens when you are on board
  • When You arrive to your destination (Geneva, Vallorbe, Lausanne or Neuchâtel) there will be a customs mailbox in the train station you drop off your VAT Tax documents you processed while on board.
  • If there is not a customs officer on board your train, you can get the Tax Refund paperwork stamped and processed at the Geneva train station.

What if I forgot to submit the VAT tax refund form or did the steps wrong? 

If you leave the EU and forget to submit your VAT Tax refund, there are steps you need to follow to receive your refund. Within 6 months after the date of purchase of your goods, you must send a tax refund request to the Direction Generela des Douanes et Droits Indirects, and include a copy of your passport, boarding pass, customs declaration you made for those goods when entering your country, and a letter explaining why you were not able to process the refund while you were there and the retail export form.

Direction Générale des Douanes et Droits Indirects
Fiscalité, transports et politiques fiscales communautaires (bureau F1)
11, rue des Deux Communes
93558 Montreuil
France

Recap of the European VAT Tax Refund Process

Paris is one of the most popular places in the world to go shopping with some of the most iconic brands. Remember that if you're a tourist visiting Paris, or any EU country spend over €100.01 you're entitled to the VAT Tax refund. Happy to answer any questions in the comments!

Sincerely Petite in Paris,
Diane 

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158 Comments

  1. Left Paris on the 15 Feb. I went to the kiosk to scan the form. It says it’s validated and you don’t have to do anything. So it’s that mean it’s been process ? I was reading the site(planetpayment.com) that I have to mail it?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Dee,

      If your scan was validated, you don’t have to do anything else

      Hope that helps

      best,
      Diane

  2. Charmaine says:

    Hi,
    I want to purchase a bag in Louis Vuitton Paris and I live in Switzerland. It’s outside EU. Do I get a Vat tax refund? You mentioned Switzerland is not on the list. Pls clarify as CH is not part of EU

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Charmaine,

      Yes you qualify for the Vat Tax Refund.

      Hope that helps

      Best,
      Diane

  3. Sheila Endut says:

    Hi, i purchase items in Paris then I will be leaving to Brussel. Where i can submit Vat refund?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Sheila,

      Are you leaving from the train station or the airport?

      Kind Regards,
      Diane

  4. Hi,
    I left Paris in early December 2023 and followed all the steps for VAT refund at the airport. Could you please let me know when is the expected time to receive the VAT?
    Thanks,
    K A

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello KA,

      On average, it takes 30-60 days to receive the refund. However, I’ve seen it take longer and even up to 6 months

      Hope that helps,
      Diane

  5. Hi Diane,
    Usually VAT refund will take 30-60days right?
    If there is no reply after 60days, how can we contact them for the VAT refund status?

    Your kindly advice on this matter will be much appreciated.

  6. Hi Sirs,
    We scan the documents at the machine when leaving Paris airport.
    It show that :
    VAT REFUND VALIDATED
    Leave the tax refund area without going to the customs desk and keep your forms.
    Kindly clarify if this is fine and wait for the refund.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Irene,

      If when you scan the forms, you will receive a popup message on the machine if you have to go to the customs desk and have your items checked.

      If you don’t receive that message you don’t have to speak with a custom’s officer

      Hope that helps,
      Best,
      Diane

  7. Hi Sirs,
    I Spend over €100.01 in a Single Store or Department Store
    I requested an Invoice
    I requested a VAT Tax Refund Document
    I scan your Paperwork Before Leaving France/ EU
    # IT SHOW VAT REFUND VALIDATED #
    # LEAVE THE TAX REFUND AREA WITHOUT GOING TO THE CUTOMS DESK AND KEEP YOUR FORMS WITH YOU #
    # We also double check with officer and confirmed that no need to submit your tax refund paperwork at the airport#
    That why i am doubts as you mentioned must drop the refund form in the mailbox at the refund station.
    Hope to clarify with you as i just want to do the correct way to avoid unable to claims
    issue.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Irene,

      If when you scan the documents it shows validated, you don’t need to go to the Customs desk and you can keep the forms. If they are not validated then you have to go to the customs desk and show your items to the customs officers and paperwork

      Hope that helps,
      Diane

  8. Gretchen Samsel says:

    Hi,

    I am getting married in Paris. The venue is requiring us to pay the total including VAT fee. The venue is a restaurant so all the charges are for food, drinks, renting the space, renting glassware, and for services such as security, handlers, etc.

    As Americans, are we eligible for the VAT refund? We will be wiring 70% of the total including the VAT fee before we even travel to Paris. The rest will be paid by CC on the night of the event in Paris. Please help direct me how we will get the tax payment back. It is about $8,000 we would receive back.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Gretchen,

      Thank you for your message. I would contact them directly and ask if you can receive the VAT back on that / tax refund paperwork.

      Please let me know what they say

      Best,
      Diane

  9. John Smith says:

    Hi, i’m a resident in Asia and i am travelling to Paris end of the month. After that I will be going to London through train.

    Am i qualified for VAT Tax refunds and will i be able to do my tax refunds?

    Thank you!

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello John,

      Yes, you do qualify for the VAT TAX refund, you will need to process it before you get on the train to go to London

      Hope that help

      Best,
      Diane

  10. Hi, can I get my vat in cash similar like when I left Roma, Italy .

    What if I bought luxury item in France and leave to Switzerland by train, can I get my vat refund in cash in Paris Train station.

    Thanks

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Irene,

      From my understanding, you cannot get cash back at the Train Station when you are heading to Switzerland.

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

  11. Dax Giunta says:

    Hello!

    I have a question, is there any way for me to claim the VAT refund online? I’m on a cruise and have left the EU with my purchases, which I paid for in cash…

    There were supposed to be customs officers in the terminal at our last stop in Spain, but they were not there.

    Thanks for your assistance!

  12. Hi Diane,

    I will be leaving Paris from Gare de Lyon to Zurich. How do I get the tax refund?

    Thanks

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Sumi,

      Great question here are the steps if you are leaving Paris from Gare de Lyon

      It is very important to know that if you are leaving from Gare De Lyon, there is NO “detaxe” refund machine available at the station. Instead of submitting the paperwork prior to boarding the train, you will process all your forms and paperwork while on board the train.

      The Tax Refund Paperwork happens when you are on board
      When You arrive to your destination there will be a customs mailbox in the train station you drop off your VAT Tax documents you processed while on board.
      If there is not a customs officer on board your train, you can get the Tax Refund paperwork stamped and processed at the Zurich train station.

  13. How to apply for tax refund if you forget to file during your departure in airport. And is it possible to apply tax refund online? How long does it take to received the tax refund?

    1. Hi! I’m going to paris soon. If I use the airvat app? does that mean i dont have to do all the paperwork, and just generate a tax free form and scan the barcode from the kiosk? And will that be enough for them to process a tax refund?

      Hope to hear from you. Thank you.

      1. Diane Marz says:

        Hello Jo,

        Great question, yes generate a tax-free form and scan the barcode at the kiosk, and you’ll receive your refund.

        Hope that helps

        Best,
        Diane

  14. First of all, thanks for the detailed write up post above, it really is a great and useful tips on how to get back the VAT refund.

    I would like to ask if I were to depart from Lyon Airport instead from Paris, I could follow the steps above to submit the tax form at the Lyon airport right??

    1. Diane Marz says:

      You’re welcome! Glad you found the article helpful

      Yes, at the Lyon Airport you would declare the VAT Tax refund in terminal 1 and follow the same steps

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

  15. Greetings from Saudi Arabia!

    Our trip to Paris is in early December and these tips are great especially the one regarding getting the tax refund from different terminals, because we might travel to Finland after France and I used to think if I was going to another EU country I wouldn’t be able to refund the tax! So thank you for the tip 🙂

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Arwa,

      You’re welcome! So happy to hear you find the article helpful! I hope you have a wonderful time in Paris

      Kind Regards,
      Diane

  16. Hi, how to request to get the refund by cash? Thank you.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Syirah,

      Great question – you have the option to select a cash refund directly from the store. When you ask for your VAT Tax refund make sure you tell them that you want it back in cash. You will receive cash immediately. The percentage back won’t be as high. When you arrive at the airport you still have to follow normal process for the refund and scan the documents. If not you will receive a chargeback on your credit for the cash refund

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane