Shop ’till you Drop: Guide to Getting your VAT back in France


One of the best things about visiting France is the shopping. AND, if you happen to be a non-European Union resident, you can shop ‘till you drop for less by claiming back your sales tax. Since this concept doesn’t exist in the United States, Americans can find the process quite confusing. Thus, I’ve put together this guide to getting your VAT back in France.

What is VAT?

Value Added Tax {VAT} is known as Taxe Sur La Valeur Ajoutée {TVA} in French, and is added to everything purchased. The standard rate on purchased goods is 20% in France. Therefore, taking the time to claim your VAT is a worthwhile endeavor.

VAT Refund Eligibility in France

Sadly, since I live in Paris, I’m not eligible for this tax refund {detaxe}. However, if you’re a visitor to France who is either going home or to a non-EU country then you’re eligible for a VAT refund. You’ve also got to be over the age of 15, be staying in France less than six months, and have the goods outside of the EU within three months.

Purchases Eligible for VAT Refund in France

Personal retail purchases of €100.01 or more are eligible for a VAT refund. Purchases must be made on the same day in the same store. You can buy several items or just one thing, as long as the receipt amounts to more than €100.01. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the receipts must from the same day, so shop wisely. Not every shop offers VAT refunds, so make sure to ask before breaking out your credit card. Also, don’t think you’ll just come to France and buy a yacht or car. A good rule of thumb is that purchases should fit into your suitcase.

Louis Vuitton Vintage Trunks

Though, at some stores like Galeries Lafayette, purchases from certain brands can’t be combined with purchases made from the rest of the store. For instance, imagine that you buy a €1000 bag from Louis Vuitton and a €75 pair of New Balance shoes from another part of Galeries Lafayette. You are eligible to receive VAT back on the bag, but not the shoes, since the shoes don’t reach the €100.01 threshold, and the price can’t be combined with the purchase from Louis Vuitton {they prepare their own tax forms}. You may, however, add €25.01 worth of socks to your haul and be able to claim the VAT back for the shoes and socks.

How much VAT is Refunded in France?

Of the 20% VAT, you’ll receive approximately 12% of that tax back. Why isn’t it the full percentage? There’s an administrative charge for getting your VAT back in France. Hey, something is better than nothing!

Claim your VAT at the Airport

Always ask for the Detaxe form before leaving the store and keep it with your original receipt. Given the hecticness of the airport, I’d suggest having the form completed prior to arriving, if not already done by the store. Make sure to give yourself extra time at the airport if you’re getting your VAT back in France. You’ll start this procedure before checking your bags and before security. Have the Detaxe form, receipts, and purchased goods handy.

For the quickest option, use the self-service PABLO machines to validate the tax return. This is only available if your form has a PABLO logo at the top. You should receive the refund back to your credit card in about four weeks. If you’d like an immediate refund in cash, that service is available at a Travelex counter. Keep in mind that they will charge a small fee, plus give you the refund at their exchange rate, if you choose something other than Euros.

Claim your VAT in-Store

Stores like Galeries Lafayette are making the process easier than ever for getting your VAT back in France. At the Galeries Lafayette Haussmann store, head to the tax refund desk on the ground floor, near the Rolex shop. Make sure to have your original receipts, as well as your passport, then choose your method of repayment. You may choose cash, even if you paid with a credit card. However, you’ll need to insert your credit card into the kiosk in case there is an issue with your claim later. The cash option refunds 10.8% of your purchases, and you must leave the EU within 21 days. Should you choose a credit card refund, you’ll receive 12% of your purchase price. You’ll receive the credit in about four weeks, but you have 90 days to leave the EU.

Galeries Lafayette Tax Refund

The Galeries Lafayette staff will prepare your tax refund form. You’ll then receive a copy of the form, which will need to be validated at any PABLO kiosk upon departure of France. There is no need to send anything back to Galeries Lafayette, as the computer systems are connected. If you’re not departing the EU from France, then you’ll need to take the forms, receipt, passport, and purchased goods to the customs desk of your EU departure city.

And when you thought Galeries Lafayette couldn’t make it any easier to get your VAT back, they did. Instead of waiting in line, let the Lineberty app do it for you. Utilize Galeries Lafayette’s free wi-fi and download Lineberty. Choose your queue; take a digital number; continue to shop, until Lineberty let’s you know it’s your turn. Finally, show your phone to the receptionist and you’re ready to start getting your VAT back. There is a team of people that speak a multitude of languages there to prepare your VAT forms and help you decide if you should request cash or credit reimbursement. Then, you’ll head to one of the kiosks and scan your form. If you choose cash, the money will come directly from the kiosk like an ATM. At that point, you’ll follow the same airport departure procedure.

Claim your VAT via an App

Apart from getting your tax refunds through an in-store paper method, there’s a way to get your VAT back by using an app like Wevat or Airvat tax refund. The main perk of using a digital method is that you get more money back (up to 23% more), and it works across all stores that issue an invoice – even ones that are not registered to offer a tax refund. Plus, there’s no minimum spend per store. You only have to spend a total of over €100 across all your purchases during your trip in France. You also don’t need to show your passport to ask for a refund form. Instead, you just need to ask for a ”facture” (invoice in French) addressed to Wevat or Airvat before you pay. The app combines invoices uploaded together into a single digital refund form, so you can simply scan the barcode at a PABLO tax refund kiosk for your departure airport, train station, or ferry port before going home.

The department store concept originated in Paris, as did many of the most legendary designers. Paris very well has the best shopping in the world. The city is always on the forefront of the next big thing when it comes to design and style, so bringing an empty suitcase is as essential as a scarf and comfortable, stylish pair of shoes. With some planning and knowledge, you can fill that empty suitcase for less, by claiming back your sales tax.

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  • Missy Lamb
    April 25, 2018

    This is valuable intel, Leah. Thank you so much for the research put into this post!

    • Leah Walker
      April 25, 2018

      You’re welcome…I sure wish I was eligible to get my VAT back. But if I can’t, then I hope others will!

  • Andrea
    April 26, 2018

    Thank you so much for this info!! What if you didn’t validate at Pablo in the airport and are now back in the states? Is there anyway to get that money back? We nearly missed our flight so I wasn’t able to do it at the airport. Oops.

    • Leah Walker
      April 26, 2018

      Ohhh…that’s a question I’m not 100% certain about. I’m sure it’s happened before and the Internet has an answer. I’d be curious to know as well. Sorry I don’t know!

  • Mark P
    September 13, 2018

    You still can get 20% VAT return, you just need to do the forms yourself. When you buy high end items the clerk will ask you would you like cash (10 percent something) or back on your credit (13 percent), which they will give you auto-filled forms to just drop off, and the store receives a kickback.

    If you want to the full 20 percent VAT you will just need to do all the forms yourself at the airport

    I am here in Paris now. Sept 2018

    • Fatih Motor
      September 20, 2018

      Have you ever done this progress before ? They say me that its not possible refund full vat .

      • Joao S
        October 2, 2019

        Is that also applied to smartphones?


  • Viktoriya
    December 16, 2018


    I made a purchase more than 4 weeks ago, but still did not get the tax free refund into my card. Could you please advise whether the tax free refund will be paid in 4 weeks after purchasing or in 4 weeks after submitting the tax free form at the airport?


    • Leah Walker
      December 23, 2018

      It’s usually paid within four weeks. I’d give it another week just in case.

  • Alpa Bhungalia
    March 11, 2019

    To confirm: If you take care of the all of the VAT procedures at GL, then one doesn’t need to do anything at the airport?

    • Leah Walker
      March 19, 2019

      No, you have to scan the form that you were given at GL at the airport kiosk.

  • Corinne
    April 7, 2019

    Hi! I am heading to Paris in a couple of weeks and was wondering if there is a max spending limit for the VAT? Also, is this VAT limited to one day of purchase or from your entire stay? (I understand you have to have a minimum of 175EUR for your purchase in one location and not combined from various locations to be eligible for the VAT). Thank you!!

    • Leah Walker
      April 8, 2019

      I do not believe there is a max spending limit on qualified goods. The VAT refund applies to your entire stay. Though, you do have 90 days to leave the EU from the time of purchase.

  • Sarah
    May 22, 2019

    Do we get to keep the receipt if we were to purchased from LV or Chanel after VAT?

    • Leah Walker
      May 25, 2019

      Yes, you will have the original receipt.

      • John Crawford
        June 17, 2019

        How do you check status??

      • Faye
        June 22, 2023

        Great article, very helpful. But wondering do I need to keep shoes in their boxes? Or can they be wrapped or just be in the dust bag? Same for bags?

        • Leah Walker
          July 2, 2023

          They should be unworn. You don’t have to have the box.

  • Kathy
    June 20, 2019

    Hi Leah,

    Do I still get my VAT back if I depart from Netherlands? How does this work? I’m flying home from the Netherlands. Only traveling to France by train.

    • Leah Walker
      June 27, 2019

      You claim it from the European country of departure.

  • Alyssa
    August 22, 2019

    Hi Leah! I am curious how this applies to online purchases made in France? I just bought a Garmin watch via Amazon.Fr and am curious how to go about the VAT process – any ideas?

    • Leah Walker
      September 9, 2019

      That’s a very good question. I’m not sure that VAT applies to online purchases. Is it being shipped out of France? If so, was VAT charged?

  • Adetunji
    September 25, 2019

    Hi LEAH…Thanks for the information…does apple store in Paris offer VAT refund?

  • Lillian Lee
    October 1, 2019

    Hi Leah. I am sending a friend to airport 1 day prior to my departure. Can I scan all my forms even I have leave France. Just to kill the que line

    • Leah Walker
      October 2, 2019

      I’m not sure, but scanning your document takes no time.

  • Keisha
    January 18, 2020

    I’m traveling to Paris via train and then back to London. From London I’ll be heading back home to the US. I will make a purchase at the LV store in Paris. I was told that I can get a tax refund. Since I’m leaving the EU from London, how will I get my tax refund from Paris? Will the LV store give me the info I need or do I need a custom stamp from Paris airport??

    • Leah Walker
      January 21, 2020

      You will submit your tax forms that LV gives you in your departure city in the EU. In this case, it’s London, depending on when you’re in London. As you might know, the UK is leaving the EU very soon.

      • Rose
        February 1, 2020

        Hi Leah, i’m planning to travel from Paris to London in May 2020. If UK leaving EU very soon, does it mean I need to claim the VAT in Paris before heading to London? Please advice. Thanks

        • Leah Walker
          February 7, 2020

          You’ll claim your VAT from the last EU departure city (London) until 1 January 2021. So, if you did this same trip in 2021, you’d claim in France instead of the UK.

  • Angel
    January 22, 2020

    Hi I have a question. I bought a bag at Paris GL and done all the process but no one ever tell me that I have to scan the form that were given at GL at the airport kiosk. Can you advise?

    • Leah Walker
      January 23, 2020

      You have to scan the form. That’s the only way that they know the item has left the EU.

  • Jina
    February 20, 2020

    Hi. Can you give me an example of the return you will get if I paid $1200 for a purse?

  • Karol Valenzuela
    February 29, 2020

    I read a comment saying someone had received the full 20% of the VAT on designer goods do you know if that is possible? Btw thank you for replying after 2 years after the article. Much love from US.

    • Leah Walker
      March 1, 2020

      It depends on the shop as to the percentage. For instance, Audemars Piguet gives back 20%.

  • Dana
    March 14, 2020

    Quick question, I am a student in the UK (US citizen), with Brexit now can UK residents go to Paris and now claim VAT after they shop since the UK is no longer a part of the EU?

  • Marjory A Nemeth
    April 12, 2021

    Please can you get VAT if you ship item back to US from Paris store?

  • erika escobiñas
    August 26, 2021

    Hi Leah, for my friends that wanted to visit EU from Asia and Middle east do they still need to declare the goods (i.e LV) once they have arrived at their local airport?
    or only in EU airport before departing?

    • Leah Walker
      September 3, 2021

      It is up to each individual country as to the declaration rules.

  • Karlina
    October 13, 2021

    Interesting website, thank you! What if you purchased something that the store did not want to provide a tax return form for? I’ve purchased something too big to fly out of Paris with and since it will instead have to be shipped to me, the store would not give me a tax form. They have said that if I’m unable to leave with the item, I’m not eligible for getting the VAT back. Any advice?

  • Yuki loh chastel
    January 28, 2022

    Thanks so much for in important information. I have a little question. If I am stay more than a year in France and plan to back malaysia for 2 months holiday. Will I still get the Vax refund? ( my husband is a French citizen & I am still holding malaysia passport

    • Leah Walker
      February 8, 2022

      You and the items need to leave the EU within 90 days of the purchase. Also, you cannot be an EU tax resident to get the VAT back.

  • lillian
    April 7, 2022

    very helpful website. may i ask is the item purchased in duty free store at the airport without the 20% VAT already?
    also, if i purchased something within 90 days (before i arrive in the EU), and pick up the item in store, would i be eligible to get VAT refund for the items if i leave the EU within 90days of online purchase?

    • Leah Walker
      May 30, 2022

      Yes, duty free shops in the airport do not have the VAT. The 90 days begin when the full purchase is made.

      • Grace West
        April 11, 2023

        I purchased a Louis Vuitton bag and I went to Chanel and purchased a pair of sunglasses that cost 430 euros. I got a VAT form filled out at the ground floor by the VAT agents for the sunglasses and a VAT form filled out by Louis Vuitton sales agent. Both the bag and sunglasses were bought on the same day. Can I submit BOTH VAT forms the day I arrive at the airport to head back to the United States?

  • Leslie Berich
    August 8, 2023

    Bonjour Leah:

    I found your VAT information so helpful, merci beaucoup! Next week, I’m so fortunate to be leaving for a 5 week vacation in the South of France concluding in Monte Carlo! We’re flying in & out of Nice airport, so knowing that the VAT reimbursement systems are there is so useful! I, also, adore Paris, how nice to be living there (your payment if VAT excluded!) I’ve signed up for your newsletters as love traveling in Europe. Looking forward to more great tips!


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