Guide to shopping tax-free in France
Travellers to France can enjoy tax-free savings on purchases made during their visit. What better place to treat yourself to fashion bargains than in the world capital of high fashion - Paris! Read this guide on how to get your VAT refund in France with the Airvat app.
- Create and Register your account in the app. Have your passport ready, and complete a simple registration process inside the Airvat app so that we will collect some officially required information from you.
- Go shopping! You can make purchases both online and in person in physical stores, however, make sure to request an invoice in the name of Airvat at each store you visit.
10 rue de Penthièvre,
SIRET 90084709600014 (optional information)
TVA FR 50900847096 (optional information)
Note that the shop's own VAT refund forms, cash register or credit card receipts are not acceptable. Don’t request VAT refund forms or mention “tax-free” to avoid confusion. Simply ask the shop assistant “Please could I have a facture?” (which means invoice in French).
You can submit as many invoices as you wish and each can be of any value, however, the total amount across all purchases must exceed €100 before you become eligible for a refund.
- Finished shopping? Generate your Airvat tax-free form to display a barcode in the app.
- Arrive early and head to the VAT refund area (“Detax” in French) to find PABLO self-service Customs kiosks before checking in your luggage. You will need to scan the barcode from your smartphone to validate the refund.
In most cases, you will see a green tick on the PABLO displaying confirming your refund. Occasionally, you may be requested by PABLO to see Customs Officers to have your documents and goods inspected before your refund can be authorised.
Note that if France is not your final exit point from the EU, or you are not departing from one of the main international airports or rail stations in France (such as some road border crossings), you will need to print the Airvat tax-free before going to your departure point. In this case, because of the absence of PABLO terminals, you will have to go to the Customs desk before leaving the EU to get a manual customs stamp.
You will also need to print your tax-free form if the electronic Customs system is temporarily unavailable. In this case we will let you know in the app and ask you to print and sign your paper tax-free form.
If you are not sure where to print the tax-free form, ask at your hotel’s front desk / Concierge, or search online for the nearest internet cafe or print shop.
- Receive your refund payment directly on your bank account shortly after your departure.
Once your refund form has been successfully authorised by Customs, it will automatically be updated inside the Airvat app, and the payment will follow afterward. We do not offer cash refunds at the airport. All payments will be made electronically directly into your nominated account, without any unexpected deductions or exchange rate mark-ups.
Who is eligible for a VAT refund in France?
- Non-EU residents, including British citizens
- EU citizens who permanently live outside the EU
- Non-EU citizens working or studying in the EU for less than 6 months
All non-EU residents are eligible for this type of tax refund when shopping while visiting France. In addition to Norwegian, Icelandic, and Swiss residents, this also now includes the Brits post- Brexit, to find out more, click here.
If you are an EU citizen living abroad but visiting France on holiday or business, you can also claim your refund provided you have proof that your place of residence is outside the EU. Documents such as consular registrations, visas, green cards, can be used as proof of non-EU residency.
Non-EU citizens who live, work, or study in the EU for less than 6 months can also shop tax-free in the last 3 months before permanently returning to their home country outside of the EU.
What can I buy tax-free in France?
Your shopping has to be for personal use and carried home in your personal luggage when you depart from France. Most popular tax-free purchases typically include goods such as fashion accessories, handbags, jewellery, cosmetics, watches, clothes, portable electronics, and souvenirs.
- Goods must be taken out of the EU in your personal luggage within 3 months of purchase.
- Your tax-free shopping must be unused, still in its original packaging, and available for Customs inspection when leaving the EU.
How much VAT refund can I get in France?
France's standard VAT rate, or TVA as it is known in French, is 20%. There are also other reduced tax rates of 10% and lower, but they are generally levied on services and food, which is not relevant for tax-free shopping.
Unfortunately, you will never be able to receive 100% of the tax amount back. Retailers from where you purchased the goods, or their affiliated refund agents, usually charge a commission when processing your claim.
The VAT refund admin fee varies depending on the company, and can be as high as 40-50% after any additional payment charges, airport cash advances, or currency conversion fees are added. Always be sure to look into the provider’s small print to understand exactly how much of a refund you will receive. Read this article about how to calculate VAT refund in France.
Airvat charges a transparent flat fee of 20% of the VAT amount, without any hidden charges or commissions. Our fee will always be much less than getting an in-store tax refund form from the shop where you purchased the goods. A typical Airvat customer on average receives 50% extra refund relative to using a retailer's preferred service. You can find out exactly how much you will save by using our refund calculator tool within the Airvat app.