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Tax Free Shopping in France: everything you need to know

Have you ever heard of TVA exemption and tax-free shopping in France ? Curious about how it may easily help you save hundreds of dollars while vacationing ? In this article, Sav’In Tax Free breaks down the VAT-free shopping experience for you and explains how you can save money on all your purchases made in France

In France (and in countries that are part of the European Union), the Value Added Tax (or VAT) applies to all products and services intended for consumption within the EU borders. The tax represents 16.67% of the purchase amount (taxes included). This tax is territory based and is only compulsory for European Union residents. A traveler with his main residence outside the EU can therefore be exempt from VAT so the amount is deducted from the price of the goods purchased in France.

Complex to understand, paperwork and process heavy, VAT free shopping can be intimidating despite its advantages and it has been an initiated person’s deal for the longest time.

In recent months, the spawning of several services in the mobile app space like Sav’In Tax Free has definitely changed things up: more users are now turning to VAT tax refund apps requesting VAT refunds independently and making it a more common habit for anybody visiting France. In order to understand the full process, Sav’In Tax Free gives you a complete overview of the way VAT tax refund works.

What is a VAT tax refund for tourists?

VAT Tax refund for tourists is the ability for foreign travelers whose tax residence is established outside the European Union to get a large amount of the VAT paid on their exportable purchases back when they leave the country. Any eligible traveler therefore has an increased spending power in France since he/she saves part of the VAT on the products purchased while visiting the country.

VAT exemption eligibility checker

In order to claim your VAT tax refund you must comply with the following three eligibility criterias :

  • You must be at least 16 and older
  • You must live in a non EU country at the time of the purchases
  • You must be able to justify that you are passing through France for less than 6 months

The passport is the supporting document required to validate a VAT tax refund. VAT free shopping is available to anybody meeting these criterias, regardless of their nationality. Thus, a French expatriate in Switzerland will be able to get exempted from VAT on all his purchases made in France during his visits, but not necessarily a Chinese student living in Paris for more than 6 months.

What products are eligible for VAT tax refund?

VAT tax refund only applies to products intended for export. A minimum legal purchase  amount of 100.1€ is also set by French law to ensure that only exportable / valuable goods are exempted from VAT tax. These purchases must be carried in the tourist’s personal luggage and must not be destined to trading or any professional practice back in the traveler’s home country.

Certain goods are excluded from tax exemption: manufactured tobacco, means of transport for private use and spare parts, narcotics, relics and ancient cultural goods, goods subject to embargo and petroleum products. It should be noted that it is not uncommon for the commercial nature of a product to be retained and tax refund refused by customs if the goods or the buyer’s profession suggests professional use (telephone, perfumes, jewelry, clothing etc.).

Where to shop to get VAT tax refund?

Previously limited to luxury goods and strictly relying on a paper slip delivered to you by the store, VAT tax refund has evolved for the better. Mobile tax refund apps make it easier and more intuitive to claim VAT refunds. Thanks to Sav’In Tax Free you can now get your VAT tax refund on any goods purchased in any store located in France, regardless of the brand. You can also combine smaller purchases in order to reach the legal threshold of 100.01€, therefore benefiting from more VAT tax refunds.

What does the VAT tax refund process look like ?

To get the VAT back, you must create your own digital slip with the Sav’In Tax Free app once you’ve finished shopping. To do so, download the app, complete your profile, add your legal documents info and upload pictures of your receipts directly in the app.

Before leaving the European Union, visit a PABLO electronic terminal (available in most departure halls at airports, find locations HERE) and scan your digital slip (QR code) to validate your request. The slip must be validated on the day of departure and before the end of the 3rd month following the purchase date.

It is required for you to pass customs with the digital slip, the proof of purchase corresponding to the requested VAT tax refund requests as well as the unused products in their original packaging. You get your refund within 21 days after your passage through customs, directly on your credit card. You can also get immediate cash back by visiting one of our partner exchange offices at your departure hall and showing the documents mentioned above

How much can I expect to get back ?

With Sav’In Tax, you benefit from the best reimbursement rate on the market and recover 14.5% of the amount of your purchases (VAT included), so about 85% of the VAT. For example, if you spent € 1,500 (tax included), we will reimburse you 14.5% of this total, so an exact amount of € 217.5

How does the Sav’In Tax Free app make it easier to manage your VAt tax refunds?

The app was designed to simplify the process, consolidate your purchases on a single digital slip, and allow you to get more tax refunds with the cumulative purchase option.

With Savin ’tax free, follow 3 easy steps to get your VAT refund:

  1. Download the app and complete your profile
  2. Combine purchases made in all stores located in France, regardless of the amount and the brand, reach the legal minimum threshold of € 100.01. Get 14.5% back of the VAT amount.
  3. Upload pictures of your receipts directly in the app. All your proof of purchases are grouped together on a single digital slip.
  4. Validate your VAT tax refund request before leaving the European Union

Choose to be reimbursed on your credit card or in cash at an exchange office (list of exchange offices and PABLO terminals HERE).

Unlike classic VAT tax refund, the mobile tax refund is flexible and user friendly. Sav’In Tax Free randomize access to this great money saving process by allowing each eligible person to manage their tax refunds independently.

Download Sav’In Tax Free now !

Now that you know the basics about tax refund, go ahead and download the app for iOS or Android! Get your groceries and your shopping minus the VAT and maximize savings next time you visit France!

You want to know more ? Read Tax Free Info articles
Where to shop to take advantage of the tourist tax exemption?
Steps and vocabulary to fully understand VAT tax refund.

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