Eligibility for VAT refunds

The retroactive certification of a VAT form that has not been stamped by Customs or validated at a PABLO terminal upon departure from France will be issued by the French Customs.
The French consulate will not be held responsible for the outcome of your request.


Eligibility for VAT refunds

  • Be a resident of a non-EU country at the time of purchase.
  • Have been in France for less than six months
  • Retail purchases (total amount of your purchases must be greater than 100€, bought in the same store and the same day).
  • Online purchases might be eligible only if delivered in France along with the VAT form.
    For further information about VAT refunds: https://www.douane.gouv.fr/fiche/eligibility-vat-refunds-pablo

Procedure upon departure from the European Union

  • When you leave the EU territory and prior to checking your luggage, you must present both your purchases and the VAT refund form to Customs.
  • You must do this before the end of the third month following the month in which you made the purchase(s).
  • If you opt for the manual procedure, French Customs will stamp and return the two sheets of your VAT refund form to you. You then send the stamped form to the retailer.
  • If you opt for an electronic stamp using a PABLO terminal, the process is entirely computerized.
  • For further information: https://www.douane.gouv.fr/fiche/eligibility-vat-refunds-pablo

Retroactive certification procedure

1. Am I eligible?

If your VAT form was not stamped by Customs or scanned using a PABLO terminal, you may request – under certain conditions – a retroactive certification of the form from the customs office with territorial jurisdiction.
This procedure should only be initiated if one of the following reasons prevented you from fulfilling the procedure upon departure:

  1. PABLO terminal out of service;
  2. Temporary interruption of service;
  3. Customs office closed.
    Important : Simply forgetting or not having planned enough time to fulfill the procedure upon departure will forfeit your rights to request a VAT refund. Therefore, the French consulate will not be able to assist you.

2.What is the procedure ?

You must gather all required documents for a retroactive VAT refund request and submit it, by mail, to the Regional Customs Directorate whose jurisdiction includes your point of departure from the European Union.
Your application must include:

  1. A letter stating the reasons that prevented you from completing the customs export formalities, your date of departure and the address of the Regional Customs Directorate whose jurisdiction includes your point of departure from the European Union ;
  2. A proof of residence outside the EU (residence permit, US driving license, water/electricity bill, lease agreement);
  3. The original of the VAT form for a total purchase;
  4. A copy of your travel ticket;
  5. Proof of export of the goods.
    This proof consists of either :
  • A receipt issued by the customs authorities in your country stating that all applicable duties and taxes have been paid;
  • stamped box C2 of the VAT refund form;
  • A “certificat de présentation des marchandises” issued by the French consulate

How do I apply for a certificate from the French consulate?

1. I book an appointment

  • We invite you to write to info.chicago-fslt@diplomatie.gouv.fr and request for an appointment.
  • Important: Only the person whose name appears on the VAT form must apply for an appointment and consequently for the VAT refund.

2. I make sure that I have all the required documents

  1. Original of valid ID (passport, ID card, US driving license);
  2. Proof of address;
  3. VAT form(s);
  4. Each purchased good mentioned on the VAT form(s);
  5. Debit card for the payment of the 27€ fee in dollar;
  6. If your total purchases are valued for more than $800 US, you also need to bring a copy of the receipt of your US customs declaration. For more information, click here.

Following your appointment and once documents are gathered, you must submit your request to the French Customs, by mail. Your application will be reviewed by the Customs who will rule on your eligibility.

Where do I send my mail request ?

You must submit your retroactive request within 6 months of your purchase date to the French Customs office from your departure point:
- Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport:
Direction Régionale des Douanes et Droits Indirects
Rue du Signe
BP 16108
95701 Roissy CDG Cedex

- Orly Airport :
Direction régionale des Douanes
7 Allée du Commandant Mouchotte
94546 Orly Aérogare Ouest

- From a different airport :
Go to the French customs website: https://www.douane.gouv.fr/fiche/la-detaxe-en-france-pour-les-touristes-pablo
- If you left the EU by train and you were not able to stamp the VAT forms before departure:
Direction générale des douanes françaises bureau F1
11 rue des 2 Communes
93558 Montreuil cedex

Have you declared your purchased goods to the US Customs?

The duty-free exemption, also called the personal exemption, is the total value of merchandise you may bring back to the United States without having to pay duty. You may bring back more than your exemption, but you will have to pay duty on it. In most cases, the personal exemption is $800, but there are some exceptions to this rule, which are explained on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

Last modified on 08/08/2023

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