Demystifying Detaxe (shopping in Europe)

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  1. This is the entire page that explains how to collect your tax when shopping in Europe. This was a link provided by Felle 1984. Thanks Felle!!!! I just cut and paste for your reading pleasure.

    Demystifying the Detaxe
    We hear from many people who are completely stumped by the process for getting your detaxe (VAT) refund. Moreover, if you’re one of those people who think that clipping coupons is too time consuming, then move on. That being said, the detaxe refund is not very confusing. We’re not saying it’s easy - it just requires a little organization and forethought while on your vacation.
    So here it is, your 5-step guide to your detaxe refund.
    1. Determine if You Qualify for the Detaxe. To qualify for the detaxe, you must meet the following requirements.

    • You have to be at least 15 years old.
    • You can’t live in the European Union (EU).
    • You have to be visiting the EU for less than 6 months.
    2. Determine if Your Purchase Qualifies for the Detaxe. If you spend a minimum of 175€ (about $215) in the same store on the same day on merchandise where the tax was charged, those purchases are eligible for the detaxe refund. This is what makes the Grand Magasins, (Galleries Lafayette and Printemps) such a great shopping destination. For a serious shopper, a family, or even several friends, pooling your purchases usually won’t make this a difficult limit to reach.
    So you’ve determined you qualify for the detaxe and you went wild at the shops, easy enough so far…now what? Well, dealing with customs and the refund requires some planning on your part.
    3. Get the Retail Export Form ("bordereau de détaxe) BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE STORE.
    For Example, at the Galleries Lafayette Main Store, you will find the Export Form location on the main floor behind the Duty Free Shopping. You may need to wait in line for a store representative. The store rep will lead you to a cucicle for privacy, examine the receipts and your purchases, then stamp your form.
    Don't be tempted to skip this step, because the hassle of having to get your documents after the fact just doesn’t bear writing. Hint: It involves international phone calls, letters, and finding your nearest French Embassy in the US if you want to “expedite matters”. You must sign this form and it must be endorsed by Customs when you leave the EU.
    So you’ve had a great time and are now ready to go home. There are only a few more things you need to think about for your refund. The first is that sometimes Customs personnel will want to see your items before stamping your forms so…
    4. Pack Properly Before You Leave for Home.
    All of the items that you claim a refund for must be in your personal luggage when you leave - you cannot ship items home and still qualify for the refund. Also, Customs officers may want to check your purchases before stamping your forms. So make sure you any items you are claiming on your refund forms are a) not wrapped, b) together, c) on the top if your luggage and most importantly, d) NOT ALREADY CHECKED IN.
    5. Get the Documents Stamped BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE EU.
    This needs to be done in the last EU country where you are on the ground. This means that if your stop home from Paris is in an EU county, you need to have your form stamped in that country. At the airport, look for the Detaxe sign (see the picture below for a Detaxe sign at CDG). You will need to provide your ticket, passport and the forms that you have collected during your shopping. After customs has reviewed everything, they will endorse the copies and tell you that you need to drop them in the mail.
    Keep a copy of the form for yourself, and put the original in the provided envelope. Drop all the appropriate envelopes in the nearest mailbox (see picture below) and then you are on your way. Make sure you allow enough time (at least an additional hour before the time required for checking-in at the airport) for Customs. At CDG and Orly airports, you may find long lines of other travelers at the customs counter, especially during the tourist season. (Pray that you are not in line behind a tour group).
    A bit of a Catch 22 - You also want to make sure you don’t arrive too early. Customs at CDG will not process a claim more than 3 hours prior to your flight. Your flight must appear on the Departure board for customs to endorse your forms.
    6. After the Forms are Filed, be Patient.
    You just have to wait (and wait and wait and…) to receive your refund. If you don't receive your tax refund, you have to contact the store and not the French Customs.

    7. If You've Skipped a Step, Read On.
    Okay, now the bad. If you didn’t have time to get your form filled out before you left France, here are the steps needed to claim the refund.
    You have to send a request for a tax refund within 6 months of your purchase to:

    The French Customs Attaché
    Embassy of France
    4101 Reservoir Road NW
    WASHINGTON D. C 20007
    With this request, you MUST include:

    1. A copy of your passport
    2. A copy of your travel ticket or your boarding pass
    3. An "attestation de présentation des marchandises" issued by a French Consulate. In order to get this document you have to go to the Consulate with the your purchases, your passport and your plane ticket OR have the US Customs or Canadian Customs declaration you made for the purchases when you re-entered the country.
    4. A letter with lots of good excuses as to why you didn’t get your form stamped when you left France.
    5. The Retail Export Form
    Your application will then be forwarded to ‘the competent authority’ in France. If your application is approved, you will be mailed an endorsed "customer" copy of the Retail Export Form. The Customs Department will mail the other copy to the store, which will refund you the VAT.
    Nerja likes this.
  2. This is great info, thanks!

    frankly it also sounds a bit trying to climb a huge mountain. Makes me appreciate what we have in Asia is so much easier, and we take it for granted already.
  3. anything hermes!
    thanks for info
  4. Wow, wish I could have read this a couple of months ago! Thank you AnythingHermes for the wonderful info!

    One thing I wanted to verify -- the envelope that you get from Hermes FSH already has postage paid? Does that only apply to the customs mailbox, or is it anywhere within the EU? I couldn't really figure it out, as it didn't look like postage to me, but simply printed text (and I didn't really understand the French :P). I didn't know better and mailed the form once I got back home.
  5. #5 Jul 15, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009

    I just want to add that depending which EU country you shop in, the amount purchased to qualify for VAT refund varies from country to country. In addition, in other EU countries, H uses VAT refund forms from either Global Refund or Premiere Tax Free.
  6. Don't expect to get full VAT refund from Hermes in some EU countries, the VAT refund might varied. With some EU countries, it is similar to Paris where normally, it is 13% but with Hermes it is 10% even with Global refund/ Premiere tax. You can always check the refund forms to see how much and what percentage you are receiving.
  7. As La Van stated the minimum spend varies from country to country and in the UK it's around £30 so the above is really only relevant to France

    Also in the UK more organised stores print you off all your paperwork and then you file your claim at your departure point and can request a cash refund, which carries higher charges, or have it refunded to your credit card

    You never get the full 15% VAT refunded either as Global refund take their fee, you should expect to get between 10% and 12% back

    All of this is based on purchasing in the UK and carrying home with you and not to buying online. When buying online you pay the price minus 15% VAT as there is no third party involved in processing a refund
  8. thanks for the info. this is great for anyone who wants to visit EU and get their dream items.. :smile:
  9. Great article, just a tiny little error in the minimum amount as the others pointes out. This varies from store to store and country to country and it's not always as much as 175 €, it's sometimes less. As a rule of thumb, ALWAYS ask. =)
  10. Robee you're welcome.

    Linda83 you're welcome. I think I read some where on the forum that there is a postage box close to customs, as pictured above, and if you are in France and you place the envelope in the drop box there is no postage required. I do remember reading it somewhere. If I'm wrong I'm sure one of our knowledgeable TPFers can clarify.

    La Van Bluewin Mooks Liberte thanks for the info!
  11. I will be leaving for my London/France trip in about 45 days, yes I'm counting down :woohoo:, I did some research on H prices in the US, London and France. Here's the breakdown:

    Twilly 125 USD 80(130.52USD) British Pound 95 (132.91) Euro

    70 cm scarf 225 165 (269.20) 195 (272.82)

    Scarf ring 135 95 (154.99) 110 (153.90)

    Enamel bracelet 510 340 (554.71) 395 (552.64)

    Cdc 1000 650 (1060.47) 755 (1056.32)

    *Belt 570 355 (579.18) *407 (569.43)

    *Belt2 675 415 (677.08) *479 (670.17)

    Sandals 495 320 (522.08) 370 (517.66)

    *Bearn gusset wallet 2050 1220 (1990.43) 1410 (1972.73)*

    *Dogon 1475 890 (1452.04) 1030 (1441.07)

    Blanket 1125 720 (1174.68) 830 (1161.25)

    The prices in parenthesis are USD and the exchange rate was for last night. So looking at my chart, I will not be able to buy everything that I hoped for. The USD is so weak right now that the majority of the items are less expensive in the US except for wallets, belts, jewelry and purses. So ladies, if you are traveling from the US to London or Paris it's probably best to spend your money on leather goods unless you just have to have that one particular item :amuse: and your best bet would be to buy it in France. Although with the 10% VAT refund the prices may not be that bad after all :lol::yahoo: Hope this helps.
    betty_cecilia and Nerja like this.
  12. AnythingHermes, wow thanks for sharing.
  13. please also bring your passport or a copy or at least your passport number.

    when i was in the capri H i forgot to bring my passport and i have no record of my passport number on me. but the SA put in another passport number when issuing my receipt. It's been almost 2 months and no refund yet.

    in paris (i went there a week after capri), i brought my passport with me and the refund was deducted from our cc billing yesterday. the refund was handled by global tax refund so i was only given 1 copy.

    getting the forms stamped & everything was pretty easy really.

    they ring up your purchases, ask if you're a tourist, ask for your passport. They give you 2 pieces of paper: One green and one pink, and one postage paid envelope. Ask which one to mail and which one to keep.

    at the airport of your LAST stop in an EU country, look for the customs office. be there early! i was lucky as there were only 5 people in front of me. when i turned around after a couple of minutes TWO busloads of japanese tourists were behind me. Bring your goods with you! i bought 3 items and they only looked at 1. But i had all forms plus their copies stamped.

    after they stamp it just mail the stamped form in a sealed envelope. usually the envelope already has postage. at the paris airport the yellow mailbox is a few steps across from the customs office.

    after all that just wait for your refund. but you can also claim your refund at the airport with a slight deduction. I didn't have the time to wait so i opted the credit on the credit card.

    hope this helps.
    betty_cecilia likes this.
  14. Jadeite you're welcome.

    Baileylab thanks for the specific details!!
  15. Just to clarify -
    "6. After the Forms are Filed, be Patient.
    You just have to wait (and wait and wait and…) to receive your refund. If you don't receive your tax refund, you have to contact the store and not the French Customs.

    You do not contact the store if you did not receive your refund. You have to contact the respective company that did your detaxe refund (check your copy receipt).

    Also look for a reference number on your copy receipt that you can quote in your enquiring call/email.