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Steps and vocabulary to fully understand VAT tax refund

Purchases, cumulative amount, form, slip, Borne PABLO, refund… VAT Tax refund has its own technical jargon. Sav’in Tax Free takes you through the different steps and essential vocabulary you should master before digging deeper and getting started on this great money saving practice. Discover how tourist VAT tax refunds work and how Sav’In Tax Free makes it easier for you to manage it.

A look at the “classic” tax refund process

Until 2018, tax refunds were mostly carried out directly in stores following a transaction. The process still exists and has not evolved much. It is entirely managed by the retailer in partnership with a “tax refund operator”. This operator facilitates the administrative and transactional aspects. As a necessary intermediate, the operator is responsible for recovering the VAT amount and transferring it to the beneficiary. The average refund rate for classic VAT tax refund is around 12% of the total amount (taxes included).

To get your VAT tax refund  the classic way, you should:

  • Remember to bring your passport when shopping
  • Do your shopping as usual for a minimum amount of 100.01 €.
  • Make sure the retail location you’re shopping in offers a VAT tax refund. If so, the cashier will create a paper tax refund slip at the end of the transaction filling out the following info: item description, value, buyer’s marital status, passport number and contact information.
  • You will be given a slip containing your VAT tax refund request along with your receipts. Keep these documents until you leave the country.
  • When you leave the EU, have your slip validated by customs visiting a PABLO electronic terminal (available in most departure halls).

Once your slip has been validated, you will receive your refund within a few weeks.

Although widespread and still commonly used, this process is no longer the only way to recover VAT on purchases made in France. The rise of digital and mobile solutions offers new alternatives to travelers.

 

Mobile VAT tax refund with the Sav’In Tax Free app

Mobile apps now allow tourists to easily manage their tax refunds independently while also offering a higher refund rate. The solution also gives tourists the option to combine “small purchases” to reach the legal minimum threshold of 100.01 €.

Once the app has been downloaded and the profile duly completed (official information is required along with a picture of your passport), you are just a few clicks away from creating and validating your VAT tax refund slip:

  • Shop for a minimum amount of € 100.01 in any store in France, regardless of the brand. You can make several purchases to reach this legal minimum threshold. Remember to keep all your receipts. You no longer need to make sure that the tax refund service is offered in-store since you can now manage your requests independently directly from the app. See our article Where to shop to take advantage of the tourist tax exemption? for more information on shopping locations.
  • Upload your proofs of purchase directly into the app. These can be the receipts, invoices, and sales receipts you’ve gotten showing the details of the transaction and the items purchased. Credit card tickets alone are not accepted.
  • Once your proofs of purchase have been added and validated by Sav’In Tax Free, you can generate your digital tax refund slip. One of Sav’in Tax Free key feature is that you can consolidate all your slips into one.

You should know: your latest proof of purchase must be added to the app at least 2 hours before your departure time to allow review and validation time by a Sav’In Tax Free operator.

  • Before leaving the EU, scan your digital slip at a PABLO electronic terminal in your departure hall, before check-in. It is mandatory for you to carry the merchandise in your suitcases, preferably unused and in its original packaging, along with all proofs of purchase and your passport.
  • Once the slip has been validated, you can choose to get your refund immediately in cash by visiting an exchange office or directly on your credit card  within 21 days after your passage through customs. You can follow your refund status in the app.

The Sav’In Tax Free app allows you to make the most of the tourist VAT tax exemption.

Download, shop, recover VAT euros today.

Sav’In Tax Free is available on Google Play and App Store.

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