New tax-free shopping in France for UK residents

Following Brexit on 1 January 2021, UK residents in England, Wales and Scotland (excluding Northern Ireland) are now eligible to shop tax free in the EU and can save up to 20% by claiming back the VAT on their purchases. However, over half of UK residents don’t know they’re eligible. Here’s an introductory guide to make sure you get the best value from tax-free shopping.

Why shop in France?

With its capital as the birthplace of haute-couture and a plethora of resident designers, France is synonymous with shopping and boasts some of the top retail spots in Europe. Iconic department store Galeries Lafayette is an icon of the Paris shopping scene, with thousands of brands from Chanel to Cartier housed within a stunning Art Nouveau building. Bordeaux’s famous Rue Sainte-Catherine is often hailed as Europe’s longest pedestrianised shopping street at just over 1.2km in length, while the glamorous boutiques of Nice and Cannes on the Cote d’Azur make seaside shopping a joy.

According to estimates by tax-free shopping company Global Blue, prices in France are on average five to 10% lower than in the UK. Combined with your new tax-free eligibility, this means you can save up to 20%! So whether you’re upgrading your wardrobe or your technology, it makes sense to take advantage of tax-free savings.

What shopping can UK residents claim tax refunds for?

A variety of goods qualify, provided they are taken home unused in their original packaging. These include fashion, cosmetics, jewellery, technology and food and drink items, with many of the best high street retailers and global luxury brands offering tax-free shopping services. There is a required minimum spend of €100.01 to qualify, and you must be 16 years of age.

How does it work?

  1. SHOP: Use the Global Blue app to find stores offering tax-free shopping. In store, show your passport and a proof of address, and ask for tax-free when paying.
  2. VALIDATE: As you head home, allow extra time to validate your tax-free forms at the designated Pablo self-service kiosks located in the Customs area of your departure point (airport or train station).*
  3. REFUND: Save time by adding your credit card to the app and you’ll be paid automatically once your tax-free forms are validated. Alternatively, you can visit a nearby refund office.

*Goods must be exported to the UK within three months of purchase. Keep your receipts safe with your forms and don’t pack items away in checked luggage as you may need to show them at Customs.