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VAT refund after returning -- a lost cause?

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Hi! I am trying to figure out if there is a way to get a VAT refund after you have already left the EU.

My mom visited Italy a couple months ago and bought expensive items for herself and relatives. A 20% VAT refund would amount to around 800 euros, so as you can imagine she would very much like to get this amount back as that is not a small sum of money!

Unfortunately she was not an experienced VAT refunder and believed someone in Italy who insisted to her that she could get it done in Geneva.

I am visiting France now and tried to get the forms stamped on her behalf (I have all her paperwork, ticket stubs and her passport) at the CDG airport. As expected, they insisted on seeing the merchandise (which I didn't bring) and insisted that she needs to do it in person. I had to endure and incredible amount of eye-rolling for simply asking if they could make an exception, since this was clearly a legitimate VAT refund application. One of them started yelling at me in French.

Anyways, one of the VAT people told me that my mother can get the forms stamped herself at the French embassy. Does anyone have any experience with this? I suspect he was just trying to get rid of me. My mother bought the gifts in Italy, doesn't seem like the French embassy would authorize that.

Anyways, my mother is very upset about this whole thing as the reason she made her purchases was because of the advertised VAT refund. Frankly this seems like a genius way for the EU to generate extra revenue -- by making the refund process as complicated and cumbersome as possible.

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