General rules

Who is entitled to shop tax free?

If you are a traveller whose habitual place of residence is outside the European Union (EU) (1), in a third country (2), you may deduct value added tax (VAT) from the price of goods bought in France.
Warning: Not all retailers offer tax free shopping.

You must be:

  • A resident in a third country at the date of purchase,
  • And visiting France for less than six months.

You must be able to provide proof of both these requirements at the time of purchase (identity papers if you are a foreign national; a consulate registration card or any other documentary proof if you are French and reside outside the European Union). The following are not entitled to VAT refunds:

  • Residents of a European Union Member State;
  • Residents of French overseas départements (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion) and the overseas authorities of St. Barts and the French part of Saint Martin;
  • Persons who have been posted to a third country or territory treated as such (2);
  • Members of diplomatic or consular missions and international organisations who are stationed in France;
  • Students and trainees residing over six months of the year in France;
  • Immigrant workers (even if returning permanently to their country of origin);
  • Residents of Monaco;
  • Minors aged fi fteen or under.

(1) European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (including the Isle of Man).
(2) Countries that are not members of the European Union.

The following are treated as third countries, since they do not form part of the Community Customs territory:

  • The French overseas authorities: French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, Saint-Pierreand- Miquelon, Mayotte and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories;
  • The Channel Islands, Andorra, the Faeroe Islands, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, San Marino and Vatican City;
  • Gibraltar and the Dutch part of St Martin;
  • Büsingen and the Isle of Heligoland, Livigno, Campione d’Italia, Mount Athos and the Åland Islands.

Which goods are eligible for a VAT refund?

The goods that you buy must be retail purchases made as a visitor and must not be for business purposes.

Warning: Because of their specific nature, some goods are not eligible for a VAT refund. They include:

Some consumer goods:

  • Manufactured tobaccos.

Goods covered by special controls, such as:

  • Goods subject to special formalities (Washington Convention, end-use control procedure, licensing, etc.)
  • Petroleum products
  • Postage stamps
  • Weapons
  • Cultural goods
  • Private means of transport, including their accessories and provisioning (supplies, fuel, etc.).

For the last three categories of goods, there are specifi c exceptions for which VAT refunds are possible. Please contact the Customs service for further information (details at end of leafl et).

How to obtain a VAT refund?

The goods that you buy must be retail purchases made as a visitor and must not be for business purposes.
The total value of your purchases (including VAT) at a single shop on the same day must be over €175.
When you make your purchase the retailer will give you a VAT refund form. The two pages of the form must be signed by the retailer and yourself.
By signing both sheets, you are undertaking to complete certain formalities.
Before checking your luggage, you must present the goods and the form together for certifi cation by Customs, at the time of your defi nite departure from the European Union.

If you are travelling on an international train

You must have the VAT refund form stamped by Customs either during the journey or at the border station (on leaving the European Union).

If you are leaving the European Union from France

If your form must be manually certifi ed, French Customs will give you back both sheets of your form, stamped with a Customs stamp.

  • You must post the Customs-stamped pink sheet to the retailer
  • You must keep the green sheet in the event of any dispute

If your form can be electronically certifi ed at a PABLO station, the message “OK Bordereau validé” (OK, form validated) will appear, confi rming that the goods have been exported. This is the equivalent of a Customs stamp. You do not need to mail the retailer one of the form’s sheets. He or she will be notifi ed directly of the electronic certifi cation.
Warning: The goods must be available for Customs inspection when the forms are stamped. Failure to present them will result in the cancellation of the forms and a possible fine.

If you are leaving the European Union via a Member State other than France

After inspecting them, the Customs service of this Member State will give you back both sheets stamped.

  • You must send the pink sheet back to the retailer yourself once you arrive in your country of residence.
  • You must keep the green sheet in the event of any dispute.

In all cases the retailer will pay you the sum entered on the form (Box D/2) as the VAT refund, according to your instructions and particulars.
The retailer may alternatively grant you the VAT refund at the time of purchase (Box D/1 of the form), which does not exempt you from the above formalities.
Warning: The retailer must receive his Customs stamped sheet within six months of the sale.