The VAT Refund

Please note: the decision for granting a tax refund is the sole decision of the French custom services. The Consulate General only represents these services, and cannot guarantee the outcome of your request.

I – The Routine Procedure

1/ In principle

The VAT Refund Forms for exportation (outside France) is a procedure which allows people visiting France for a period of less than 6 months, and who reside outside the European Union, to benefit from a VAT exemption when exporting certain merchandise bought in stores authorized to practice this tax exoneration.

For detailed information about the conditions of purchasing VAT refunded products, please read the following brochure (in French, English and Spanish) by the French customs services:

PDF - 561.2 kb
Brochure

The purchase must be a retail product of touristic, non-commercial nature. This procedure may also be applied to a product bought online, under the condition it was delivered within France’s borders along with the invoice, to be presented with the request for an “export visa”.

The tourist has three months, from the date of the purchase, to present both the retailer’s invoice and the actual merchandise to the Customs services of the final port he or she will be leaving the European Union from.

2/ PABLO

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1. The PABLO procedure

As of January 1st, 2014, French retailers will be required to provide PABLO V.A.T refund forms to travelers. These computer-generated forms, showing a barcode and the PABLO logo, will need to be approved electronically at designated PABLO readers located in all major airports.

Instead of submitting their documents at the customs window, as was previously the case when applying for a V.A.T refund, travelers will be able to scan their PABLO form directly at one of these self-service reader stations. Instructions will be provided in English.

This electronic system will make the V.A.T refund process faster and more user-friendly. Depending on what option they have selected upon purchasing their goods, travelers will be able to get their V.A.T refund from the retail company, or to have their bank account credited at a later date.

2. I’m leaving France, where can I find a PABLO reader ?

These readers will be installed at the following aiports: Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, Orly, Lyon St-Exupéry, Marseille-Provence, Nice-Côte d’Azur, and Genève-Cointrin.
They will also be located at the Marseilles harbor and at the customs offices at Saint-Julien-en-Bardonnex, Pontarlier and Vallard (on the Swiss border).

At Orly
South Terminal, Gate G, Departure level

At Roissy-Charles de Gaulle
Terminal 1: CDGVAL level, Hall 6
Terminal 2A: near the arrivals, exit door 5
Terminal 2C: near the arrivals, exit door 12
Terminal 2D: near the arrivals, exit door 6
Terminal 2E: Departure level, exit door 4
Terminal 2F: Arrival level
Terminal 3: Departure level

Generally speaking, readers are located near the customs window.

3. How do I complete the VAT refund process using a PABLO reader before my departure ?

- Go up to a PABLO reader. If you are leaving from an airport, you must have your form approved before you check in your luggage. You must have your passport, your ticket, the PABLO form and the items you purchased.
- Slide the barcode on the form under the barcode reader to validate it
- A message will appear ("OK bordereau confirmé", which means "OK form approved"). This electronic approval is exactly the same as a customs stamp.
- An electronic confirmation will be sent to the store owner as soon as you stamp the form. He or she will then immediately launch the reimbursement process.

4. Need more information ?

The Infos Douane Service (IDS) call centre can answer your questions. They are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 6 PM, at 0 811 20 44 44 (billed at local rates when calling from a landline). If you are dialling from outside of France, please call +33 1 72 40 78 50.

Information is also available on the French Customs website:
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The site features a short video in English that shows visitors leaving from an airport how to use the PABLO readers.

II – A Procedure of Refund In Retrospect

1/ In principle

Requesting an export-visa in retrospect is an exceptional procedure.

This procedure is not applicable to a visitor who did not follow the Routine Procedure described above: i.e. who did not simply present the Form and/or the merchandise to the customs services upon his or her exit of the European Union (in compliance with the current regulations and as he or she commits to when signing the VAT Refund Form).

The procedure only concerns cases in which the Form could not have been properly processed by the customs upon leaving (i.e. the Routine Procedure did not work), due to exclusively internal reasons (absence, momentary interruption of services, technical problem with the PABLO system).

The procedure allows the traveler who left the European Union without being able to have his Form scanned or recognized for these abovementioned reasons only, and under certain conditions, to request a visa, in retrospect, from the competent territorial customs bureau.

To this effect, two solutions are possible:

- The traveler is able to present a receipt of his or her country’s customs services, proving he/she paid off the applicable taxes.

- The traveler presents him or herself to the French Consulate in charge of his/her region of residency with the VAT Refund Form(s) and the merchandise, in order to have the C2 section stamped, or to receive a visa.

2/ Obtaining the certificate by the Consulate General of France in New York

You must come to the Consulate in person (scheduling a meeting is not required), Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., and present the following:

- Your passport

- All the merchandise mentioned on the VAT Refund Form(s)

- The Refund Form(s)

- The equivalent in dollars of 18€ per Form (please visit the fees and methods of payment section in our FAQ).

Please note the final decision is made by the French Customs services. The Consulate General cannot guarantee a favorable decision for a refund upon remittance of the visa.

3/ Sending your request for refund

You must address your refund request within 6 months of the purchase date, to the regional customs bureau of the final port from which you left the European Union:

• For Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport:

Direction Régionale des Douanes et Droits Indirects
Rue du Signe
BP 16108
95701 Roissy CDG Cedex
France

• For Orly airport :

Direction régionale des Douanes
7 Allée du Commandant Mouchotte
Orlytech
94546 Orly Aérogare Ouest
France

• For other airports:
Please refer to the French Customs services directory(in French).

• If you made purchases in France and left the European Union from a different member State other than France:

Direction régionale des douanes de Paris
16 rue Yves Toudic
75010 Paris
France

• If you traveled by an international train and were not able to have your Form(s) stamped on the way or at the borderline station (when exiting the European Union) by the Customs services:

Direction générale des douanes françaises bureau F1
11 rue des 2 Communes
93558 Montreuil cedex

Please mention the following:

1/ The reasons the customs formalities were not finalized.

2/ The date of your departure and name of the bureau where you left the European Union.

Please enclose the following:

1/ Any official document certifying: (1) your continuous residency outside the European Union, as well as (2) your visit to France for less than six months (copy of your passport, national ID, Consular ID, Resident card…);

2/ Proof of export of the merchandise (from France), which can be one of the following:

• Either the customs document from your country’s customs services, proving you paid off all applicable taxes,

• Or the certificate that you presented the merchandise, or otherwise the visa of the C2 section of the Refund Form provided by the French Consulate in charge of your region of residency.

3/ The second copy of the original invoice.

4/ A copy of your transportation ticket.

For more information, please contact:

INFO SERVICES OF THE GENERAL DIRECTORY OF FRENCH CUSTOMS

Website: www.douane.gouv.fr

Landline local call
From overseas: +33 1 72 40 78 20

E-mail : ids@douane.finances.gouv.fr

Dernière modification : 14/10/2013

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