(I’ve decided to include the VAT refund process in my post to help other fellow travellers. When I was researching our trip, I found the VAT refund process rather intimidating. It seemed like a very complicated process, maybe intentionally made to appear that way. After going through the process, we found it rather straightforward.)
The next morning, check out was simple and efficient. We got on the CDG VAL and got to Terminal 1 early as we had a lot of VAT refunds to do. Our flight was at 12pm and we got there at 8am in anticipation of the queues. After going through the whole process, I realized it was as simple as ABC.
A – when you purchase your item (175 euro or more at the same store, on the same day, in France, it’s a different limit in each country), ask for a VAT refund form. Some major department stores have a VAT refund office so you can accumulate all your receipts from the same department store, on the same day, and take it to the VAT refund office to get your refund form. Be prepared to queue, and make sure you have a copy of your passport ready (yes, they will accept photocopied copies of your passport) Some places like Au Bon Marché will even give you cash refund right away (after taking away a percentage of course). If you choose the cash refund, you will still need the VAT refund form.
B – when you are leaving your last port of call in the EU, make sure you claim your VAT refund before checking your luggage in, as you may be required to show the items at the refund desk. At CDG Terminal 1, the refund desk is at the Departure level. Present your VAT refund forms at the desk to have it stamped. Be prepared for a very long queue.
C – if you want to have your refund in cash right away, take it to the Travelex desk next to the refund desk (again a long queue). There is also another Travelex desk after passing through immigration, inside the departure hall, beside Printemps and there were no queues there. If you choose to have a cash refund, they charge 3 euro per refund form, which is deducted from the refund amount that you will receive. You can also choose to receive the refund in your own currency, obviously at Travelex’s exchange rate, and with a conversion commission on top.
If you choose to have your refund credited back to your credit card, fill in the details on the VAT refund form. Be sure to take note of your VAT refund form number as you’re meant to be able to track your refund status on the Global Blue website, if your refund is through them. Place the form in the envelope provided, and post it. There is a post box directly in front of the refund desk at Terminal 1 and postage is free within the EU.
We chose to have our refund credited on the credit card and it all came through in less than 4 weeks. However, I still can’t get my head around how the refund percentage is calculated as it was all over the park (the official percentage is 5-19%). We had over 10 different refund forms and we were worried some would get lost in transit but every single one of them came through without any problems.
Finally, it was time to leave. We made our way sadly through immigration. Brandon couldn’t help himself and made one last purchase at Mont Blanc at duty free and then it was time to board our flight back to Singapore. As we boarded the plane, hubby and I were already discussing our next trip to France. We had fallen in love with the country. As the French say – C’était un coup de foudre.