We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

VAT Tax Refund

Singapore
Level Contributor
87 posts
13 reviews
Save Topic
VAT Tax Refund

Hi

I did not get any answers from the Paris forum. So I am hoping to get some answers here.

I will be coming to Switzerland from Paris by train. I understand there is no customs at the Gare De Lyon and Gare Du Nord train stations (in Paris).

I intend to do my shopping in cash mostly. So I think I will have no problem getting cash refund at the Tax Refund offices downtown (in Paris) or in Galeries. My problem is getting the documents stamped by the customs!

From what I have gathered, the French customs are hardly around at the borders. And they do not come up the trains to do a check.

Are there any other alternatives or are there no other ways at all?

I have been advised by the local French consulate here to get my cheque stamped at the nearest French custom office in the arriving railway station - which for my case will be in Basel. I tried to google for more info. But nothing came up. Is there any French custom office in Basel?

Would appreciate if anyone can shed some light on this. Many thanks in advance!

121 replies to this topic
Basel / Switzerland
Level Contributor
2,710 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: VAT Tax Refund

Hi Tiara

When I buy wine in France (which happens often :-) ) they deduct the ¨V.A.T (they call it TVA) directly from the total of the bill. But I pay by credit card.

All I have to do is to get a stamp from the SWISS customs, that proves , that the goods have left France and that they have been declared to swiss customs correctly. Then I send the stamped copy back to France in an envelope that I got from the french trader. If I forgot to send it back, they would charge my credit card for the amount due after some time.

If they aggree with this procedure at the Paris shop, you can do it that way.

The swiss customs will be at the railway station. Don't worry. :-))

Singapore
Level Contributor
87 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: VAT Tax Refund

Hi Maetzli!

Thanks for your reply! So as long as the shop in Paris agrees with the procedure ie. to have the stamp by the Swiss customs instead of the French, i should have no problem at all.?

Will the boutiques accede to such request? As I was thinking of getting some bags from a French designer label.

I have read horror stories where the Swiss customs refuse to stamp on the document since Switzerland isn't an EU participant. Will the shop be giving a special set of documents so I can produce to the Swiss customs?

It would be really great if this is really workable. It would work out to be a HUGE savings!

Basel / Switzerland
Level Contributor
2,710 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: VAT Tax Refund

Well, if it works with wine, why shoudn't work it with designer stuff.

It works BECAUSE Switzerland is no EC member and has much lower customs fees and VAT than the surrounding countries. (6,6 % vs. 19 %)

Why should Swiss customs refuse to collect fees and Swiss VAT? They are obliged to do so!!

Wichita, Kansas
Destination Expert
for Wichita, Kansas
Level Contributor
4,081 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: VAT Tax Refund

The county of purchase does not matter because all of the VAT refund forms are processed at the airport from which you leave the EU.

Depending upon the queue, allow 30-minutes for Customs and another 30-minutes at the VAT office. After you have the Customs stamp you can also mail the VAT forms.

fti
MN
Destination Expert
for Alaska
Level Contributor
15,427 posts
28 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: VAT Tax Refund

>>all of the VAT refund forms are processed at the airport from which you leave the EU.

>>Depending upon the queue, allow 30-minutes for Customs and another 30-minutes at the VAT office. After you have the Customs stamp you can also mail the VAT forms.

I assume you misread the posts in this thread. The OP is not exiting the country on a plane!

Wichita, Kansas
Destination Expert
for Wichita, Kansas
Level Contributor
4,081 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: VAT Tax Refund

>> I assume you misread the posts in this thread. The OP is not exiting the country on a plane!

Normally, VAT Tax Refund forms are not processed until the traveler departs the EU - transit from one EU to another EU county would not trigger the procedure UNLESS the person wishes to pay the import duties.

Departure from the EU by car, train or Ferry boat requires obtaining a Customs Stamp at the EU departure point and most likely returning the VAT form by mail.

To the OP ->

The minimum you have to spend in a single transaction in France is 175.01 € before the merchant will fill-out a VAT Tax Refund form. The minimum in Switzerland is 300 CHF.

http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/vat.htm

If you wait until you leave the EU to process all of the VAT forms, you will generally receive a full refund of the Tax paid minus a 0.5% to 1.0% handling free.

If you were to do the procedure described by 'MAETZLI' you would, yes receive the France VAT refund, but then have paid the Import duty into Switzerland .....

.... AND you will have to clear Customs and may have to pay duty upon return to Singapore.

The GST (Goods and Services Tax) relief allowance on items brought into Singapore is $300. Beyond the $300 personal exemption, a GST is levied at 7% of sum of value and duty on all goods imported.

http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trav/all/GST+Relief+and+Duty-Free+Concessions.htm

http://www.customs.gov.sg/leftNav/trav/Allowance+Relief+and+Concessions.htm

Edited: 19 March 2010, 16:14
Basel / Switzerland
Level Contributor
2,710 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: VAT Tax Refund

Now the ultimate question:

Is Switzerland in the EU??????????????????

It is not...........................

got it?

Wichita, Kansas
Destination Expert
for Wichita, Kansas
Level Contributor
4,081 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: VAT Tax Refund

True, Switzerland and Norway are not 'members' of the European Union which IMO is a positive.

They are however members of the European Union Value Added Tax Area which consists of all the European Union member states and certain non-member states which follow the value added tax harmonization rules of the European Union Value Added Tax ["EU VAT"].

Singapore
14 posts
Save Reply
9. Re: VAT Tax Refund

Hi all,

I will be also purchasing merchandise from Paris and will be leaving by train to Switzerland and Zurich back to Singapore.

Since Swiss is not part of European Union and Paris train station does not have custom officier to stamp the VAT refund form..........where can we get the custom stamp then? I am so confused and perplexed about this matter. Any ideas?

Wichita, Kansas
Destination Expert
for Wichita, Kansas
Level Contributor
4,081 posts
11 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: VAT Tax Refund

'lavlyn'

While Switzerland and Norway are not 'members' of the European Union, they are members of the European Union Value Added Tax Area which consists of all the European Union member states and certain non-member states which follow the value added tax harmonization rules of the European Union Value Added Tax ["EU VAT"].

Customs at the Zürich airport can stamp the VAT Refund forms. You then proceed to the Global-Blue office to process the forms and receive the refund.

According to the ZRH Airport website:

"The customs office can now be accessed on the landside from Departures 1, lower level (to the right of boarding card control). On the airside, it can either be accessed directly via the entrance after boarding card control at Departures 1, lower level, or via the entrance opposite the Global Cash Refund counter."

zurich-airport.com/desktopdefault.aspx/…

Go through the Boarding Card check-point and then look for the Customs / VAT Offices.

Reply to: VAT Tax Refund
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted