Although there is no departure tax in French Polynesia, it's made up in other creative and exorbitant taxes. The TVA (or taxe sur la valeur ajoutee, value-added tax) is a hefty 16% added to purchases in shops, 10% added in bars/excursions/restaurants, and 6% added to your accommodation bill, which tends to accumulate taxes. You will also be charged the 5% government tax and the tax de sejour (accommodation tax), which is charged per person per night.

A sojourn or "visitor" tax of 150 CFP per person/per day is tacked on to international cruises and international classified hotel rooms. A sojourn tax of 50 CFP per person per day is added to bills in the smaller family-run hotels and pension. Children under 12 staying with their parents are exempt from the sojourn tax, for a visit of up to three days in each hotel. Sojourn taxes apply in the most frequently visited islands (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Raiatea, Tahaa, Rangiroa, Mataiva, Tikehau, Nuku Hiva, and Tuamotu).

Altogether your hotel bill in a resort will have 11% added to it, plus 150 CFP per person per day. Pensions and guesthouses have usually included the VAT and the sojourn tax in the cost of the room or bungalow. Shops, restaurants, activities and tourist services include the VAT (which ranges from 6% to 10% depending on the product) in their prices.

When making a purchase, ask for a V.A.T. refund form and find out whether the merchant gives refunds—not all stores do, nor are they required to. Have the form stamped like any customs form by customs officials when you leave the country or, if you're visiting several European Union countries, when you leave the EU. After you're through passport control, take the form to a refund-service counter for an on-the-spot refund (which is usually the quickest and easiest option), or mail it to the address on the form (or the envelope with it) after you arrive home. You receive the total refund stated on the form, but the processing time can be long, especially if you request a credit-card adjustment.

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