If you stumbled upon this post, then you are probably planning a trip to Paris sometime soon. Hopefully, this post about luxury shopping in Paris and the vat refund process will be of some use to you. If you read my Chanel shopping experience blog post then you know I was in Paris in April for a day of shopping. Since I was only there for a day and managed to visit quite a few stores I thought I would share some tips that helped me stay organised and save time.
Tips for a more organised shopping experience in Paris
- Make a list of all the boutiques you would like to visit and using Google, map out your route before arriving in Paris.
- If you plan on using public transport, make a note of the bus/metro stops that are closest to the boutiques you are planning on visiting. Make a note of the directions from the metro/bus stop to the boutique. I always check the routes on Google street view in advance to familiarise myself and to make mental notes of landmarks that can help point me in the right direction. For boutiques that weren’t within 5 minutes walking distance of each other, I preferred using a taxi to save time.
- Get an international data roaming package if you plan on using google maps during your trip.
- When looking for specific items use their reference codes this is much more useful to the sales assistant. If your item isn’t available in the boutique you are in it might still be in another boutique in Paris. The Chanel sales assistants I was working with were both able to track down items for me by searching reference numbers on their system.
- If you are staying in Paris and want to do a lot of shopping mixed with sightseeing, have the boutique deliver your items directly to your hotel. That way you are not weighed down with shopping, and you don’t have to worry about making space for your bags when you stop for lunch or coffee at a quaint little bistro.
- Dress comfortably especially if you plan on walking around. You can still look chic in Paris and be comfortable 😉
The Vat Refund Process
Since I live in Switzerland and we are not part of the European Union we can claim vat back on items that cost more than €175.01 when shopping in France. If you are also from a country that is not in the European Union, then you too can claim your vat back.
All of the high-end boutiques such as Chanel, Hermes and Louis Vuitton will be well versed in the refund process. At both the Chanel boutiques that I purchased items from the vat refund process was quick and effortless. When you pay the sales assistant will ask for your passport which will be used to complete the vat refund form for you. You have the option to receive the refund via credit card (12% after additional admin fees) or in cash (10.8% back + additional admin fees). Once all the details are completed, you will be handed the forms with a postage paid envelope to be sent back to Premier Tax or Global Blue.
Before checking in your luggage, take all the items you purchased that are legible for a vat refund along with the envelopes you have collected along the way and hand them over to the customs agent at the airport who will stamp them for you. There is also the option to scan your documents at the Pablo terminals which is much faster IF they are in working order. I flew out of the Charles De Gaulle airport at Terminal 1, and not one of the machines were working so everyone had to queue up to see a customs agent – I ended up waiting 45 minutes in line. This is why I suggest planning enough time at the airport for such situations.
Keep your items in their original packaging sometimes the customs agent could ask to see the items you purchased in their original packaging – new and unused. Have your passport and documents removed from their envelopes and ready for the customs agent, to save time. Once your forms are stamped, seal them and place them in the nearest post box which is located next to the Pablo machines. I recommend taking a photo of the forms before you post them, in case you need to query your refund. Refunds via credit card can take anywhere from 1 to 4 months to be processed.
If you prefer the cash refund option follow all the steps mentioned above, but do not post the stamped/scanned documents. You will need these documents to claim your tax refund back in cash from Travelex. Proceed to the Travelex counter and hand them your forms and they will issue you a cash refund. Please note that you will be charged an additional €3 admin fee for each invoice processed. Once you have received your cash refund minus admin fees you can proceed to check in.
So there you go the refund process is quite straight forward. I hope you found this post useful, have fun in Paris!
P.S Thank you to my purse forum friend Angie who helped me with some of the cash refund procedure information.