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How to get Duty Tax Refund in Paris (Duty Free Shopping)

From How2s

In Paris, in France, consumers pay for their shopping at the price of TTC - Toutes Taxes Comprises. It means the price is including tax. In most shops, price tags indicating price TTC. People pay nothing more than the value of the price tags.

But in some shops, mainly those shops facing to companies, there are two prices in a price tag: Price Hors Taxes and price TTC. Hors Taxes means without tax. Value Added Tax - VAT, or in French TVA, should be added to the price Hors Taxes. With value added tax, it is price TTC. For companies, TVA of purchase are refunded or deducted by the government.

For non European residents, they have no duty to pay TVA for their purchase taking back home, except food and lodging. So they can benefit from Duty Free, or Detaxe.

Detaxe or tax refund does not mean that all tax will be refunded. Currently, TVA rate of most goods is 19.6% in France, but tax refund rate is normally 12%.

Not only Duty Free Shops give you tax refund service. Almost all shops can do that. Major department stores and brand-name boutiques are familiar in the process. Some shops may not be familiar with these process, so they prefer not to provide this service. It is better to ask before buying in a shop if you want to refund your tax.

The process of tax refund can be time consuming, and many travelers just give up on the whole thing because it can seem intimidating. If you do not want to buy a great deal of goods, giving it up is not a big loss. Some travelers buy their souvenirs at airport is also a good choice.

To benefit from Detaxe, there are basic requirements:

  • You must live outside the EU, and you must be over 15 years old.
  • You must be visiting for less than six months.
  • All of the items that you claim a refund for must be in your personal luggage when you leave - you cannot ship items home and still qualify for the refund.

Tax refund procedure is not complicate. Following information is directly quoted from official document:

How to get your tax refund?

at the store:

You should check with the store, prior to your purchase, that it is participating in the tax free scheme (not all stores are).

If so, you will have to prove that you are not a resident of the European Union and that you are 15 years old or over. This may be done, if you are not a French citizen, by showing any kind of legal identification in use in your country or, if you are a French national, by showing a consular ID or any other official document attesting that you are not a resident of the European Union.

You will then be issued a Retail Export Form ("bordereau de détaxe") that you must sign and which must be endorsed by Customs within three months of the purchase, when you leave the European Union.

at Customs:

  • if you are leaving the European Union from a French port of entry:

You should present the Retail Export Form as well as the goods purchased under the tax free scheme. Customs will retain a copy of the form and you will be handed back a copy, endorsed by Customs, which you are advised to retain in case of any possible dispute with the store.

  • if you are leaving the European Union from a port of entry in another Member State:

You should make sure that the local Customs Service endorses the Retail Export Form and gives them back to you. Upon arrival in your country, you should mail a copy of the form to the French store and keep the "customer" copy in case of any possible dispute with the store.


Do not forget to keep the goods with you at all times when you apply for Customs endorsement of the Retail Export Form at the point of departure from the European Union. Customs officers may want to check them.

You should allow ample time (for instance, at least two hours before the time required for checking-in at the airport) to apply for Customs endorsement of the Retail Export Form. At Paris (CDG and Orly) or at Nice-Côte d’Azur Airports, for example, there may be long lines of travelers waiting to get this endorsement, especially during the tourist season.

And if you fail to get through this formality before you leave the European Union, it will be burdensome - and expensive - for you to claim the tax refund when you are back home (see further on).

at home:

You should receive, within a reasonable spell of time, the amount of refunded tax directly from the store, paid according to your instructions, given on the Retail Export Form (check mailed to your address, bank transfer to your checking account or to your credit card account, etc?. If you don't receive your tax refund, you have to contact the store and not the French Customs.

Some stores may deduct the tax from the price of goods when you purchase them. They do so under their own responsibility and you are still required to apply for Customs endorsement of your Retail Export Form upon leaving the European Union, even if you did not pay tax on the goods.

If you plan to visit, and shop in, multiple European countries, the procedure is generally the same. However, because each country has a different daily spending limit and VAT rate, double-check the current rules for those countries you plan to visit before you start your trip. Remember that because you only have to visit customs once when you leave your final EU country, you should keep all of your receipts in a safe place until you go home.

Direct Cash Refund

You can also reclaim the money directly after the purchase. You may then want to go to one of the Detaxe Guichets for example at the Exchange Bureau in the Galleries LaFayette. They will pay you out the difference in cash but ask you to leave your credit card details. You will also have to fill out a form. If you then hand in the form you at the airport within 21 days, your credit card will *not* be charged. If not, you will have to pay the money back via your credit card number. NOTE: Not all credit cards work, they will do a check in the "Detaxe Guichet".

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