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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156 Comments

  1. I did all the steps and when I went to track my refund I got this below note & I have all the copies of the forms with manual stamp by customs. It only happened to one form from Galleria Lafayette with a big amount that had to be refunded. What is that suppose to mean?

    2023/08/02
    Customs denial
    SPECIAL NOTE: Customs has refused to validate your tax refund form. This form is no longer eligible for tax refunds

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Have you contacted Galleries Lafayette? I suggest you contact them directly and see what happened

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  2. Edric Madrinan says:

    Hi. I’m going to Paris then flying to Zurich Switzerland then flying back to New York. My question is, If I do shop in Paris where do I process the tax refunds? In CDG or in Zurich Airport? Because I know Switzerland is not part of the EU. Thank you in advance!

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello,

      Great question, you would process the tax refund at CDG.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  3. Hello, I am from Singapore. I am going to Paris first and then heading to Germany via train and flying back from Frankfurt. Where should I process my tax refund?

    Do I need to process it at Paris, or do I do that at Frankfurt airport? Appreciate your kind advice.

    What is the estimated refund amount for luxury items in Paris though?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Wayne,

      Thank you for your message. You will process your refund for your purchases in Frankfurt. On average most luxury brands give you 12% back.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  4. Hi, i m from singapore. I had go through all the proper procedure to submit my VAT refund on 11 Jul 23. it almost two months , i has not receive the refund yet. Please advise

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Silyon,

      The VAT refund can take at least 3 months if you’ve traveled to Paris during busy season. (I’ve even seen it take up to 6 months)

      You can check the status of your refund here: https://mcc.globalblue.com/searchTransaction

      Hope that helps

      Best,
      Diane

  5. Joyce lee says:

    Hi, I’m from Singapore, I will traveling to France to Germany and then back to Singapore. May I know where do I claim VAT tax refund for purchases in France ? Thanks

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Joyce,

      You would process your VAT Tax refund for your purchases in France in Germany before you head back to Singapore.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  6. Hi , I am from Singapore ,I will be traveling to France to Iceland( non-EU) to Denmark then back in Singapore . May I know where do I claim VAT for purchases in France ? Thanks .

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello,

      Great question, you will process your VAT tax refund when you leave France on your way to Iceland!

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

  7. Julia Kidd says:

    My name is Julia Kidd. I am from the United States of America. I visited Paris France. I turned in my documentation to receive a refund, but my account information changed and I was unable to see receive my refund. Please contact me at area code XXXXX or right me at XXX. I have still not received my tax refund from Paris.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Julia,

      Thank you for your message. Unfortunately, I can’t help you with this situation, you need to contact the system you did the refund through.

      Hope that helps,
      Best,
      Diane

  8. Loveparis says:

    Hi there! Thanks for the article. Can I check, do I need to present my purchase credit card at the tax counter at airport? Is there any restrictions that I need to use the same purchase credit card for the tax refund via credit card? Cause I will be paying the item using my credit card and I will be heading to Switzerland next. The tax refund and passport will be someone else which this person will do the tax refund at the CDG airport.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello,

      Thank you for your message – your refund will go back on to the credit card that you used to make the purchase. When you arrive to process the VAT TAX refund you will not need to present that credit card. You will have to present your passport

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  9. How much are taxes in Paris on purchases?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Kim

      Taxes are built into the price. For example when you go to a store and something is priced at €5, you’ll only pay €5 Euros when you check out.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

      1. Hello, My name is Nigel. I planned traveling to Zurich, and leaving from Gare De Lyon.
        May I ask is Basel SBB station have customs mailbox?
        And the VAT Tax documents for dorp off into the mailbox can be without stamped by French customs officer?

        Regards

        1. Diane Marz says:

          Hello Nigel,

          They should have a customs mailbox, if not you’ll have to travel to a location that has one.

          The Tax documents have to be scanned or stamped before dropping them into the mailbox

          Hope that helps

          Best,
          Diane

  10. Hi Diane, I’ve attempted to google tax refund for Pisa (Tuscany) airport but to no avail… any advice if there is a kiosk there? (My last stop before back to London) thank you!

  11. Hi Diane,
    If I use a Tax Refund App, do I still have to go through the paperwork process at CDG?
    Thank you!
    Annie

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Annie,

      Great question – At CDG, you will need to scan the barcode generated in the tax refund app at a PABLO self-service customs kiosk. No need to drop any paperwork in a box or post it anywhere, just wait for the payment to your specified card or account in the app.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  12. Bogdan Sević says:

    Hi, I didn’t have time on airport to pickup cash, after I validated all codes.
    Can I switch and get money back on my credit card.
    How to proceed with that?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Bogdan,

      Thank you for your message, unfortunately once you process everything you can’t change from Cash to Credit Card.

      Hope that helps,

      Kind Regards,
      Diane

  13. Hello,

    We are leaving Paris for London on Eurostar, and we will be there for a few days. Then we come back to Paris, then Italy, then Switzerland. We leave for the US from Zurich. Would we process the VAT in Paris before leaving for London, because we exit the EU?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Yod,

      I would process the VAT tax when you leave for London at the train station

      Hope that helps

      Best,
      Diane

  14. Hi how to get tax refund in Zurich for goods purchased in Paris. I took train from Paris Du Lord to Zurich. There was no customs office at train station. Thanks.

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Joanna,

      If there wasn’t a customs officer on your train then you’ll have to try to get it processed at the Zurich airport.

      Hope that helps!

      Best,
      Diane

  15. Hello,

    Do you know what the VAT is on Barcelona and if you can use the train station to get the money back?

    Thank you!
    Tamar

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Tamar,

      From my understanding you’d have to process the VAT refund at the Barcelona airport

      Hope that helps,
      Best,
      Diane

    2. Hi Diane
      This article was extremely helpful. Just one question, is there a way one can follow-up on their tax refund status and find out the expected timeline for the same?

  16. I would appreciate clarification on the VAT tax refund and conversion US $ conversion as a US citizen purchasing in France. If I buy a wallet for $1,000. Do I get the 12% VAT tax back AND also benefit from the currency conversion which is currently showing the US $ is 11% stronger than the Euro. So, $1,000 purchase would be less 12% VAT tax AND 11% saving from the currency conversion value? So that $1,000 purchase would cost $780 (minis 11%+12%=22%). Thank you!

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Kim,

      Great question – you will receive the 12% discount off the price in Euros. For example if you purchase something for 1000 Euros you would receive back 120 Euros. Your credit card company would do the conversion to USD. Then the credit card company would convert these two transactions independently because these are done at two different times (1000 Euros for the purchase and 120 Euro refund). As of July 2023, the Euro is stronger than the USD. For that 1000 Euro purchase you would subtract the 120 Euros = 880 Euros, then if you convert that to USD it would be roughly $983.

      Hope that helps, and feel free to respond if you have any more questions.

      Best,
      Diane

  17. Hi Diane,

    My last EU stop will be Amsterdam where I will be traveling to London by Eurostar from Amsterdam Centraal station however I think there isn’t a customs officer at the station

    Would you happen to know how I should complete my tax refund?

    Thank you

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Alicia,

      Great question, from my understanding you will have to go to the Schiphol Airport in departure hall 3 (Departure 3) to process the paperwork before your train ride.

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

  18. Ruth Korotcoff says:

    Hello. I will be leaving CDG on route to Norway. But depart Terminal 2B. Where can I put my stamped VAT forms? Thank you

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Ruth,

      Thank you for your message, there is an area for the VAT TAX refund to be processed in Terminal 2 at the arrivals. From what I understand, you’ll have to arrive early and use the train connection to go to a different terminal to process the refund. Because of this, I recommend you get there early to give yourself plenty of time.

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane

  19. Hello! I just returned from a trip to Paris and have a few tips that might be helpful:
    1. There is a detax office at Galleries Lafayette. However, you still must scan the paperwork at the airport.
    2. At Galleries Lafayette, you have 3 money back options: in-store (10%), cash back on card (11%), cash back at airport (10%). Do not choose cash back at airport because chances are you won’t have time to actually get it (this happened to us). Best is to do cash back on card, BUT…
    3. VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure your credit card that you use for either option 1 or 2 above is valid for longer than 6 months, or it won’t work and you’ll have to choose cash back at airport (The only card I had with me at the time expired in 3 months, and the only option they gave us was cash back at airport. Ultimately that didn’t work for us since we had our layover and went through customs in Iceland and didn’t have time to get the money back. You have to get the cash back after going through customs). It doesn’t have to be the same card you used to make the purchase.
    4. If you’re leaving out of Terminal 3, the detax scanning machines, called Pablo, are at the arrivals gate, not at the departures gate, which makes no sense. It’s about a 5 minute walk.

  20. Can I use my US passport card instead of actual passport while In Paris?

    1. Diane Marz says:

      Hello Deb,

      Great question, I’m not sure if all the machines have been updated to accept the passport cards. You can definitely try, but I’d have my actual passport as backup in case it doesn’t work.

      Hope that helps,

      Best,
      Diane