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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166 Comments

  1. Very helpful and thorough! I was just in Paris 3 weeks ago (travelled by Eurostar from London). I scanned my form at a kiosk and it was accepted. I am confused. Did I need to drop off the form or mail it? I kept it.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Grace,

      Thank you so much – Great question, when you scanned the document was it green? If so then you don’t have to worry about dropping off the form. If it was red you might have to show someone the documents and drop them off.

      Hope that helps

      Best,
      Diane

  2. Melissa Carroll says:

    Hello what about if I am from Australia? I am travelling to London then take Eurostar to Paris for 5 days and would like to buy a LV bag then back to London on Eurostar again. What would be the process for me? Thank you.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Melissa,

      You would purchase the LV bag in Paris, get all the paperwork for the VAT TAX refund. Then process the paperwork before you get on the train to go back to London. There is a Kiosk at the train station that you would use.

      Hope that helps!
      Best,
      Diane

  3. Hi Deanna,
    Thanks for the very informative article. However I’m still a little confused.
    If I’m traveling from Spain to Paris and then to Amsterdam (all by Train) before going to London, am I able to claim my VAT from Paris before I go to amsterdam? Will that work too? Coz I feel that the VAT refund process in Paris is easier

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Alicia,

      You will claim all your VAT Tax refund documents from Spain, Paris, and Amsterdam all in Amsterdam (which is your last EU country you are visiting) before heading to London.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  4. Hi,

    Do i need to show my boarding pass to the custom officer for tax refund? i opt for cash refund.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Angeline,

      Yes you will have to show your boarding pass when you process the VAT refund

      Best,
      Diane

  5. Hi Diane, if I were to buy bags in Paris, and then go to Amsterdam by Thalys train via Gare du Nord.
    I will be leaving EU from Amsterdam back to SG.
    How do I validate my tax refund? Amsterdam Airport? and do I need to mail the form back to Paris?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Hery,

      Great question, you would process the VAT tax refund in Amsterdam at the airport before you leave.

      You won’t need to mail the form back to Paris.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  6. This article is extremely informative! We visited Paris this week, shopped, and then left Paris on the Eurostar. We dropped off a few of our forms but completely forgot the forms for our purchases at Gucci. Can we come back to Paris within the next 3 months and try to file the paperwork at that time???

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Thank you Dyan,

      Yes as long as it’s within 3 months you will be able to come back and drop off your VAT Tax forms

      Hopes that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  7. Alice Yan says:

    Hi Diane,
    I am so glad to find your article helpful. I went to Paris in the end of March of this year 2023, scan my VAT form at the kiosk at airport in Paris, it showed green check at the kiosk. i was told by the person worked there that we are no longer dropped off paperwork to the mailbox anymore. it is almost two months, i still haven’t received my refund from Planet. ( i heard global blue takes quicker). Is anyway i am able to find out the status of my refund process?

  8. Hi Daine,

    Please advise how can I claim back my tax refund back. Recently I purchased my item in Paris and gotten our Tax refund form validated in Basel train station with Global Blue station. My husband paid by credit card and gotten his tax refund confirmation back to his credit card. As for mine purchases was pay by Youtrip Master Debit Card and the track refund still showing as Refund Pending. Understand that Debit Card is not able to process refund. Could you advise how can I revised the Refund method change to Cheque or Bank Transfer?
    Appreciate your great help. Thanks!

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Linda,

      Thank you for your message. Unfortunately you can’t change the refund method that has already been submitted. Some refund methods take longer than others. I’ve seen a refund even take up to 6 months.

      Hope that helps,
      Best,
      Diane

  9. We will be flying from the United States to Paris and then leaving Paris and arriving in Florence. We will then fly from Rome to the United States. Do we submit Vat forms in both Paris and then in Rome before we return to the United States?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Deanna,

      Thanks for the message, how long will you be in Rome for? If you are there for more than an entire 24 hours then you will need to submit it in Rome, if you are only there for a layover you’d submit it in Paris

      Hope that helps,
      Best,
      Diane

  10. Katherine says:

    Hi Diane,
    If we fly from Malaysia to CDG Paris, shop in Paris, then travel by train from Gare du Nord > Brussels > London > Gare du Nord & finally leaving France from CDG Paris to Malaysia. Where should we do our VAT refund?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Katherine,

      Thank you for your message, you would process your refund tax from CDG right before you head to Malaysia

      Best,
      Diane

  11. Hi..
    I purchased items from Paris but leaving for Switzerland (Geneva) next day by bus.
    How can I get my tax refund and from where?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Shobhit,

      I would check when you get on the bus where to process it, normally for the train ride they have someone come around and process the refund for you. They should have a spot in Geneva where you can drop it off.

      Best,
      Diane

  12. Hi Diane,
    Great to read your articles. Seek your advice on my situation. We thought of after shopping at Paris, we will going to london and fly home to Singapore. In this case, we will do the VAT refund at Paris Nord train terminal. However, i have a question, does UK customs tax on our branded bags or watches purchases from Paris? If so, will it better to fly home from Paris? Thank you for your time.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Ryan,

      From my understanding you will not be taxed UK customs on your purchases in Paris.

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

  13. Hi! Thank you for sharing! This is extremely helpful! Quick question – we are flying to Paris from the US. Then we are taking the train from Paris to London. From London we are flying home to the US with a layover at CDG. When do I get my VAT stamp? At the train station or at the layover? I plan on doing some shopping in Paris before traveling to London.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Rosy,

      You need to process your refund paperwork before you get on the train from Paris to London.

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

  14. Hi! Thank you for all these tips. I am traveling from the Unites States to Geneva. From Geneva, I will go to Paris via train (Gare De Lyon) to shop for a few days then go to Milan. I will be flying out from Geneva to get back to the States. Where do you recommend I drop off the tax refund documents?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Tara,

      Are you flying from Milan to Geneva? If your last stop in the EU is Milan then you would process all your paperwork in Milan. The paperwork must be processed before you get to Geneva.

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

    2. Hi, I will be traveling to Paris from USA, but will be doing a day trip to London via Gare Du Nord, then return to Paris and fly out two days later. Can I submit my VAT at the train station instead of the airport? Or can I submit at both train and airport (different purchase) ?

      1. Diane Marz says:

        Hello Tara,

        Are you going to making your purchases before you go to London or when you get back?

        Best,
        Diane

  15. Kelli Dalton says:

    Thank you so very much! This is all so helpful. Can’t wait to shop in Paris♥️

  16. Olivia ben says:

    Me and my family just left Paris last Saturday we got our vat form stamped at the airport but we forgot to drop at the mailbox what should we do especially the one we bought in Italy and what about the one we bought in France we got all scanned at the kiosk do we need to drop also at mailbox ? Sorry cuz we got so tired and confused after exploring the beautiful city

  17. Grace West says:

    Thanks so much for this helpful info. I will be traveling to Paris next month. I am traveling down to Monaco. If I make purchases in Paris does the VAT form have to be submitted at the Paris airport or can I submit it at the airport in Nice airport when I fly home? I’m thinking it can be done at any airport in France.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Thank you for your message!

      The biggest question is, How are you traveling to Monaco? Are you flying to Monaco directly? If so, then you will have to submit the paperwork in Paris. If you are flying into Nice and then taking the train / driving to Monaco, you will submit it when you fly out of Nice.

      Hope that helps and you have a great time!

      Best,
      Diane

      1. Hello. Awesome article! Lots of great information. Still have some questions I hope you can answer. We’re traveling in multiple EU countries and have purchased items, where do I claim VAT? US>Paris>fly to Milan>train to Switzerland>train to Paris> leave Paris to US.
        Thanks I’m advance

        1. Diane Marz says:

          Hello Faye,

          Great question – you would process everything in Paris at the end of your trip before heading back to the US.

          Hope that helps,

          Best,
          Diane

  18. Hi! Thank you for the helpful tips! Quick question about when you can get the stamp. I am traveling from Rome to Paris, then back to the US. When I leave Rome, can I get stamped? If not, when I arrive in Paris, can I get stamped there? Or does it literally need to be on the day I leave Paris?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Janet,

      Great question, it would have to be on the day you leave the EU which in your case would be the day you leave Paris.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  19. This post was so helpful for me when I was traveling last month so thank you so much! I travelled from London to Paris and back to London via the Eurostar. The detaxe kiosks were well marked and easy to find on the 2nd floor of Gare du Nord. I had my tax refund paperwork with a barcode from Celine and I scanned it and got a green check mark. A French customs police officer did come over and look over my tax refund form after I had scanned it but he did not ask to see my receipt or items purchased even though I offered. I then got text messages and emails from global blue confirming that they had received my paperwork and that my refund was pending. My refund came through into my credit card a few days later. It was all very easy! I would say to make sure that the merchant who is creating the tax refund paperwork for you inputs your credit card info as the method of refund. That makes it much more smooth and quick when it comes receiving your tax refund.
    Thank you again!!

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Jessica,

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I’m happy to hear that the post was helpful for you on your trip!

      Best,
      Diane

  20. Going to Paris from Toronto Canada. If I purchase more than 100 euros at a store of food items to bring back to Canada does this qualify for the refund? Are there any specific details for vat tax refund for Canadians? It stresses me out. Thank you for your input.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Eve,

      Thank you for your message. Since food is at a lower tax rate, some stores might not offer the refund, it’s best to double-check when you get to the store before you make your purchase.

      There are no specific details for the VAT tax refund for Canadians, the process is the same.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane