Ah, the sweet relief of a tax refund in France!

Whether it’s your first time navigating the process or you’re a seasoned expat seeking clarity, understanding tax refunds in the wine and cheese capital is a boon.

Let’s dive into the nuances of getting back what’s rightfully yours.

Who Is Eligible For A Tax Refund?

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If you want a Value added tax (VAT) refund, you have to:

  • Be a citizen of a non-EU nation when making the transaction.
  • Have not yet spent six months in France.
  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Show proof of the aforementioned at the time of purchase, such as a passport or, as an exemption, a legitimate, original identification card if you reside in one of the non-EU Schengen Area nations (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, or Liechtenstein).

The following do not qualify for a VAT refund:

  • Residents of an EU Member State:
    Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia,
  • Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden
  • Residents of the Principality of Monaco
  • Those departing to take up employment in a non-EU nation or non-EU territory
  • People who are moving back to reside in France or the European Union
  • Even if they are going back to their place of origin, people who are permanently departing the European Union
  • Individuals assigned to France or the European Union who are members of diplomatic or consular missions or who work for foreign organizations
  • Students and interns who spend six months or more each year in France or the European Union
  • French social security recipients who want their VAT refunded for pharmaceuticals that are partially or totally reimbursable
  • Residents of Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, and RĂ©union, which are French overseas departments
  • People who work for transportation/travel firms and who travel by air, sea, or land as part of their jobs.

Non-EU countries are those countries that are not EU Member States. The following are deemed to be non-EU countries, as they are not part of the customs territory of the European Union:

  • The French overseas communities of French Polynesia
  • New Caledonia, 
  • Wallis and Futuna, 
  • Saint Pierre
  • Miquelon
  • The French Southern and Antarctic Lands 
  • Saint Martin and Saint BarthĂ©lemy.

The following territories of other EU Member States:

  • The Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, etc.), Andorra, the Faeroe Islands, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, San Marino, the Vatican, Gibraltar, the Dutch side of Saint Martin, 
  • The island of Heligoland and the territory of BĂĽsingen, Livigno, Mount Athos, the Ă…land Islands, and Greenland.

What Goods Are Eligible For Tax Refunds?

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Retail purchases of a tourist nature are eligible; those of a commercial nature are not. Some goods, due to their nature, are not eligible for VAT refunds.

They include:

  • Goods which are subject to specific procedures (such as those covered by the Washington Convention, dual-use goods, narcotics, etc.)
  • Manufactured tobacco
  • Petroleum products
  • Weapons
  • Cultural goods
  • Means of transport for private use, together with their equipment and supplies (food, fuel, etc.)

There are specific exceptions for the last three categories under which tax relief is possible. For more information, please contact your local French Customs office prior to departure.

How To Qualify For A VAT Refund?

The thing(s) you purchase must be tourist-related retail purchases. Your purchases must total more than €100 after all taxes are taken into account. 

Both of them had to have been purchased on the same day and in the same store. The shop will offer you a form for a VAT refund when you make your purchase, and both you and the retailer must sign it.

By checking the box, you consent to follow the specified steps.

  • You must show customs your purchases as well as the form for your VAT refund when you leave EU territory and before you check your luggage. 
  • The boot and the passenger compartment of the private mode of transportation may also be considered as “luggage” under some circumstances.
  • Before the end of the third month after the month in which you made the purchase(s), you must complete this.

Please note that if any of these requirements are not completed, customs will not stamp your form(s).

What Are PABLO Terminals For Tax Refunds?

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PABLO is France’s electronic system for handling VAT refunds. If your purchases were made in France, you can utilize the PABLO kiosks at our Calais Terminal to verify your tax refund forms. 

The directions are available on the screen for you to follow, and it’s the quickest and simplest way to authenticate your tax refund forms.

You can check out the Location of Pablo terminals deployed in France

How To Apply For A Tax Refund In France?

You must show the duty-free slip at customs when you leave France in order to be eligible for a tax refund. You could be requested to show the items you bought so they can be checked

Using the Pablo terminals at the airports will make it simple for you to get an electronic duty-free slip.

Present all of your paperwork to the tax refund desk at the airport, port, or train station where you are departing if you want an instant VAT refund. Without a tax refund office like Global Blue France or Detaxe, you must mail the documentation.

Can My Tax Refund Form Be Refused?

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Your request for a customs stamp on your VAT refund form may be refused if:

  • You do not have the required supporting documents
  • You do not present your purchases at the same time as the VAT refund form
  • The purchases for which you requested a VAT refund are not personal in nature
  • The VAT refund form that the retailer gave you is not in compliance with the regulations in force
  • The period your VAT refund form was valid has expired
  • The VAT refund form that the retailer gave you is not signed
  • You are not the person whose name appears on the form

These are the primary grounds for refusal, but this list is not exhaustive. One of the above-mentioned grounds is enough for customs to refuse to stamp your VAT refund form.


Securing a tax refund in France can feel like finding an extra croissant in your morning bag. With the right knowledge and approach, you can ensure you’re not leaving money on the table.

Cheers to smart financial navigation in La Belle France!

Refund Ready!

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