Since Paris is a shopping paradise, how to receive a tax refund is something that visitors are concerned about. Here is the must-read manual for getting a tax refund when traveling in Europe.
- Stay in EU countries for less than 6 months, non-EU residents and over 16 years old, non-EU residents without long-term residence permits for EU countries.
- Spend more than a certain amount of money in the same shop (with TAX FREE sign) on the same day, the minimum amount for the tax refund is different from country to country. For example, in France, you need to purchase over 175.01 euros to get the tax refund, while in the Netherlands, the minimum amount is 50 euros.
- You must show your original passport or photocopy when purchasing, and you must conduct your tax refund and leave the EU within 90 days after the purchase. The two main tax refund companies are Premier Tax Free and Global Blue.
- Ask the cashier to give you a tax refund form during checkout
- You can choose either credit card refund or a cash refund. At airports, some shopping malls and shops can provide a cash refund on site. The credit cards tax rebate rate is higher than the cash refund rebate rate, but will take more time and can sometimes fail. Normally, a credit card refund tax rebate rate in France can reach 12%, while a cash refund rebate rate is 10.8% (the rate varies in each country).
* Airport cash refund requires a service charge of 3 Euros for each tax refund form, so we strongly advise you to buy all of your items at the same store and purchase them together.
* Minimum amount to spend to get tax refund:
France: 175.01 € (credit card 12%/cash 10.8%)
Italy: 154.94 € (up to 15.5%)
Spain: 0 € (4%-21%)
Germany: 25 € (10%-14.5%)
UK: £30 (up to 11%)
Netherlands: 50 € (10%-16%)
Denmark: 300 DKK (25%)
Czech Republic: 2001 CZK (12%-17%)
Belgium: 125.01 € (6%-21%)
Portugal: 53 €-61.5 € (6%-23%)
Austria: 75.01 € (10%-15%)
Hungary: 54001 HUF (13%-19%)
Croatia: 740 HRK (5%-25%)
Greece: 120 € (16%-23%) 50 € (24%)
Iceland: 4000 ISK (7%-25.5%)
Ireland: 30 € (23%)
Poland: 200 PLN (5%-23%)
Russia: 10,000 RUB (up to 11%)
Malta: 100 € (11%)
Switzerland: 300 CHF (7.7%)
Norway: food 290 NOK (15%) / general goods 315 NOK (25%)
- When you do on-site cash refund at some shops, you are required to leave the EU in 15 days (usually 21 days, but the tax refunder needs to stamp the tax refund forms and deliver them before leaving EU, so a five-day tax refund time must be alloted).
- You must show either your passport, visa card, master card or other international credit cards as guarantees to have your cash refund, otherwise, you will not be able to receive your money back. If the tax refund forms haven't been sent out in time, or the tax refund companies don't receive the tax refund forms in time, the tax refund company will deduct the tax on the credit card and add an extra 3% fine.
- The tax refund form must be sealed with the airport customs stamp and put into the airport mailbox.
- The money will be refunded within approximately 1-3 weeks after the tax refund companies receive your application form with the customs stamp after you leave Europe.
- Credit cards used for purchases and credit cards used for tax refunds can be the same or different.
- In order to facilitate tax refunders, some European airports have tax refund machines. Take France for example, every tax refund form has a barcode, so all you have to do is find the tax refund machine, and scan the barcode. A smile on the machine screen proves a successful verification, and you don't need to queue up to get a custom seal. A crying face on the screen proves that was an unsuccessful verification, and you need to queue up to get the seal and then send the forms.
- Envelopes provided by merchants do not need to be stamped, and there is a postbox at the airport tax refund office.
- If you choose the cash payment tax refund, you don't need to send the materials.
- If you finally leave Europe from a non-EU country such as Switzerland, you have to get customs seals when you leave the EU countries and apply for a tax refund. If you arrive in Switzerland by train from an EU country, you can ask the staff on the train to get the seals from the train conductor. Similarly, if you take a boat or bus to leave an EU country, you must go to the tax refund point in the city for a cash rebate.
- It is recommended that you take a photo after you get the tax refund form and the customs scan or get the customs stamps. If there is any problem with the tax refund in the future, you at least have evidence of your tax refund procedure.
- The probability of an EU tax refund failure is not low. It is very likely that you can't have your refund. The airport cash rebate can be considered as a better option. The amount is small but you can get the refund immediately and successfully.
- If you plan to get the cash refund at the airport, it is better to arrive at the airport 4 hours earlier, otherwise, there are too many people and you may be late for your flight.
Duty-free products (including consumable items such as food, medicines, cosmetics, etc.) must be kept in good condition before leaving the EU country. They cannot be opened and used anytime during your travels. When leaving the EU countries, customs will check the purchase record on the passport and the duty-free goods (do not consign the goods before the customs inspection). If you don't obey the regulations, once it is discovered, you will have to make up the refunded tax.
1. Can I receive the tax refund at the last EU country before leaving Europe?
Yes. Remember that the UK is an EU country but Switzerland and Norway are not. Also, those who do the on-site cash tax refund should leave the EU in 15 days.
2. I am traveling in France, and will go to Switzerland afterward, can I have a tax refund in Switzerland?
No. Although Switzerland is a European country, it is not an EU country, and you cannot get a tax refund for things bought in France. If you are at the border, you can do it in France, but we strongly recommend you to do it at a French tax refund point.
3. Should I bring my passport and other documents when I do the on-site tax refund at shops? Can I use a passport photocopy?
You must bring your original passport. Although some stores accept photocopies, in French law, photocopies are not allowed to be used for a tax refund.
4. I am an international student studying in an EU country, can I have a tax refund? Or get a tax refund when I finish my studies and my student visa expires?
People holding a long-term residence visa cannot have a tax refund, so students studying in an EU country with a long-term residence visa cannot have a tax refund.
5. If I apply for a tax refund at the merchant's site, is the tax refund completed?
No. The tax refund forms given by the merchant must be taken to the airport tax refund office for machine scanning or customs stamping and sent on site. Please take a photo of each tax refund forms in case you need to follow up in the future.
6. If the tax refund failed or did not reply, what should I do?
Take Premier Tax Free as an example. Fill in the information on the official website or write a letter.
7. When doing on-site tax rebate at shops, does it mean that the tax refund is completed? What is the document that the merchant gave me?
No. Whether it is on-site tax refund or not, you should always go to the customs office at the airport or tax refund point to scan the forms and get stamps. You must not miss this step. Otherwise, the tax refund will fail, and the refund tax, plus a fine will be deducted from the secured credit card.