How to easily get a Tax Refund on your French souvenirs

Did you know that as a tourist in France you are entitled to claim back the Value Added Tax (VAT or TVA) on purchases over €175 made in a single store?

You didn’t know that?  Well, luckily for you this blog post will shed some light on how to simplify this in a country that loves paperwork and processes.

Firstly, here are some typical souvenirs you may see on the French Riviera:

souv1.jpg

  • Savon de Marseille soaps
  • Provençal fabrics
  • Biot glassware
  • Honey and conservessouv2.jpg
  • Olive oil
  • Santons
  • Faience pottery and Vallauris ceramics
  • Lavender sachets

Useful Tips for Tax Free Shopping in France

Years ago, to claim  your refund you would get the shop vendors to stamp your ‘Tax Refund Form’ and present it to a Customs Agent at the airport (when you left France with your goods) then mail the form to  receive your refund.

This method is still accepted today, however, I’ll share with you two insider tips on how to make tax free shopping in France and the refund process easier and quicker and save you time queuing at airports:

Tip #1:  Global Blue

Tip #2: PABLO

Confused yet?

What is Global Blue?

Global Blue is a network of more than 270,000 stores worldwide where you can shop tax free.

On the French Riviera, look for stores displaying Global Blue Tax Free Shopping signage in the window,  or for ease download  Global Blue’s iOS (for iPhone and iPad) app which lists participating stores.

The Global Blue signage will look like this (or similar):

39628-tax_free_global_blue

Some participating stores include Galeries Lafayette (Cannes), Baldinini (Cannes) and Jaeger- LeCoultre (Nice).

Before you come to France, apply for a ‘SHOP TAX FREE Card’ via the Global Blue website www.globalblue.com and when you shop at the stores simply present your card to the shop assistant and your details are automatically filled out on the form.  Its worthwhile to do only if you intend to do lots of shopping.

What is PABLO?

PABLO is a system introduced by French Customs to speed up tax refunds for tourists.

Before you check in for your flight, look for the PABLO barcode reader, insert your Tax Free Form (Bordereau de vente a l’exportation électronique) and it will validate it  (In the event the machine is not working, you can still go to the Customs desk and present your completed Tax Free Form, passport, receipts and purchases to get a stamp on your form).

The PABLO machines look like this (blue with ‘Detaxe’ across the top):

pablo

Make sure any goods you carry with you are unused and in original packaging. Don’t pack them away in your check-in luggage as you may need to show them to the Customs Officer.

Now, rather than mail your Tax Free Form back to France from your home country and wait  indefinitely for a refund, you can just go to a Refund counter displaying a Global Blue logo.

Present your stamped, completed Tax Free Forms to receive the refund in cash or to credit card (cash refunds incur a small fee).

To summarise, remember these 3 Steps:

  1. Get a Global Blue ‘SHOP TAX FREE Card’ and use it at participating stores
  2. Validate your forms in the PABLO machines (keep all receipts)
  3. Go to the Global Blue Refund counters to claim your refund

Global Blue Refund counters on the French Riviera are located:

Change Miramar

Bureau de change (Downtown), 57 boulevard de la Croisette, 06400 Cannes

Opening Hours:  MON-FRI: 09:00 a.m – 12:30 p.m and 2:00 p.m – 5.30 pm

AMEX change office T1 airside
Nice Côte d’Azur airport, Terminal 1 Airside, 06200 Nice, France

Opening Hours:  MON-FRI: 07:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

SAT: 07:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

SUN: 07:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

AMEX change office T1 landside
Nice Côte d’Azur airport, Terminal 1, Arrivals gate A2/Landside, 06200 Nice, France

Opening Hours:  MON-FRI: 06:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

SAT: 06:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

SUN: 06:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

AMEX change office
Nice Côte d’Azur airport, Terminal 2 Airside, 06200 Nice

 Opening Hours:  MON-FRI: 06:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

SAT: 06:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

SUN: 06:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

AMEX change office
Nice Côte d’Azur airport, Terminal 2 Arrivals, Gate A4 Landside, 06200 Nice

Opening Hours:  MON-FRI: 07:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.

SAT: 07:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.

SUN: 07:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.

Eligibility for Tax Free Shopping Refunds       

● If you have a permanent residence in a non-EU country

● If you are older than 16 years

● If you spend more than 175.01 EUR in a single store

● Refunds are paid on all goods that are exported in the traveller’s personal luggage

● Maximum 50 pieces of the same (identical) item

● Non-refundable goods: Tobacco, Pharmaceuticals, Cars and car parts, Weapons, Cultural relics older than 50 years, Postage stamps

NOTE: If you have any delay receiving your refund, your first point of contact is the retailer, not French Customs.  If you are time challenged at the airport or queues are long and you miss getting your form/s stamped, its still possible to claim a refund in your home country via your local French Embassy, however it involves time and paperwork!

Image credits: douane.fr, 9bytes, Pinterest

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