UK residents are now eligible for tax-free shopping in France

UK residents are now eligible to shop tax free in the European Union and can save money on VAT on their purchases. A variety of goods qualify, including cosmetics, jewellery, technology, and food and drink items. Read our guide to make sure you get the most value from tax-free shopping and understand the process.

You can also shop duty free (which is different from tax-free shopping with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle. See our duty free page).

How to shop tax free in France or any other EU country

Shop

Shop at a store that offers tax-free shopping, spending the minimum amount required for a VAT refund, more than €100.01 in France (other EU countries will have different limits). When paying for your purchases, ask a member of the store staff for a tax refund form.

Validate

To be able to ask for a VAT refund, you must prove to the authorities that you bought goods in the European Union and you will ‘consume’ them in your residence country (which MUST be outside the EU).

When shopping in France, the easiest way to validate your tax refund form is to scan its barcode at a self-serving electronic kiosk, also called a PABLO kiosk. Eurotunnel Le Shuttle have these located within our Calais Terminal.

To validate your refund for shopping in EU countries other than France, you must obtain a custom stamp on your tax refund forms from our customs office which is located inside our Calais Terminal before you exit France.

Follow this sign within our Calais Terminal Building to validate your refund.
 

Refund

Currently, the best option for receiving your refund, is by presenting your credit card when making a purchase in a store. Getting an electronic refund via your credit card means you will be refunded in the currency of your card or bank account. However, you will still need to validate your tax refund form inside our Calais Terminal Building.

You MUST validate your tax refund forms before leaving Calais

If the tax refund form has not been validated for shopping in France at a PABLO Kiosk or at a customs office for shopping in all other European countries, a refund will not be possible.

Who is eligible for tax-free shopping?

You are eligible for tax-free shopping if:

  • If you have permanent residence in a non-EU country
  • If you are over the age of 16
  • If you spend more than €100.01 in France (other EU countries have different limits)

VAT rates in France

The VAT rates in France are:

  • Standard VAT rate: 20%
  • Pharmacy goods 10%
  • Food, books: 5.5%
  • Reduced rate for certain products and services: 2.1%

Eligible tax-free goods

Eligible tax-free goods include; clothing, jewellery, fragrances, and food and drink items. You can also buy some electronic items such as headphones or tablets.

Claiming your tax refund is fast and secure

PABLO kiosks and customs offices are all located within our Calais Terminal Building.

PABLO is the electronic VAT refund processing system for France. You can use the PABLO kiosks in our Calais Terminal to validate your tax refund forms if purchases have been made in France. It’s the fastest and easiest way to validate your tax refund forms and all the instructions are on the screen for you to follow. You can use our customs service within our Calais Terminal to validate tax refund forms if purchases have been made in other EU countries. A customs officer will stamp the form manually for you.

Top tips for tax-free shopping

There are a few guidelines for shopping for tax-free items to help you keep the process smooth:

  • Bring your passport with you when you go shopping. The staff will need it to prepare your tax refund forms.
  • Try to purchase as many items on the same receipt as possible as you can often get a higher rate of refund for larger purchases.
  • Don’t ‘consume’ any items before you leave the EU. Take consume to mean ‘use’ which means all items must go home with you unused in their original packaging.
  • Have your tax-free items and receipts ready for inspection, so if your items are packed away in your car, make sure they are easily accessible.
  • Take photos of your tax refund forms after stamping or validating them using PABLO so you have evidence if there is a problem later with your refund.

General shopping advice in France

Shopping in France is incredibly similar to in the UK, but there are a few things that are different that you should know before you go.

The traditional French shopping week is six days, Monday to Saturday, with shops closed on Sundays in many places. In smaller towns and villages, stores generally open from 9 am to midday, and 2 pm to 7 pm, with a break over lunchtime where they are closed. This is less typical in larger cities like Paris, however Sundays may still have a reduced opening period so be sure to check before you head to the shops.

All prices include taxes, so you will not need to calculate how much you owe on top of the price tag.

It is customary in French shops to greet the clerk when you arrive and thank them/say goodbye as you leave the store, whether you purchased anything or not.

Some top tax-free shopping destinations in France

Head to these destinations for some great tax-free shopping opportunities.

Calais & northern France

Calais is the closest and most convenient destination for tax-free shopping, only 35 minutes from Folkestone with Eurotunnel. Here you’ll find outdoor markets, large shopping centres and small boutiques. Perfect for souvenirs and delicious French foods to take home. Cité Europe shopping mall, Carrefour Hypermarket and the Chanel Outlet store are located just a 5-minute drive from our Calais Terminal, offering you a quick way to shop. Cité Europe is also open on Sundays, allowing you to shop tax free 7 days a week.

Paris

A popular destination for romance, Paris is also a wonderful place to indulge in some tax-free shopping. Some places to shop this way in the city include Fnac des Champs-Élysées, the ‘Made in France’ souvenir shop, Signé France in Île de la Cité, Benlux Louvre, a department store located in the first arrondissement of Paris, and several shops in the Carrousel du Louvre.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

This picturesque and affluent area of the south of France is where you will find some well-stocked boutiques and designer stores. Popular places to shop in Cannes include its most famous thoroughfare, La Croisette and the Rue d’Antibes.

Courchevel

High-end brands like Dior and Chanel often host winter-themed pop-up boutiques during the season here and Avenue Montagne full of ski stores, perfect for preparing for your next winter break.

Chamonix

A popular ski destination in the Alps, you can also indulge in a little (or a lot of) shopping here. Rue Dr Paccard is like a miniature ‘5th Avenue’ full of haute couture stores.

Enjoy a tax-free shopping break in the EU with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Ready for some retail therapy? Eurotunnel Le Shuttle can whisk you from Folkestone, UK to Calais, France in just 35 minutes, from there you can explore and shop to your heart’s content.

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