Taxes

Taxes must be included in affixed prices in France. Prices in restaurants and hotels must by law include taxes and service charges. If these appear as additional items on your bill, you should complain. There is, however, one exception: don't be shocked to find the taxe de séjour (tourist tax) on your hotel tab when you check out. Running €0.20–€4 per person per day, it is applied to all types of lodging. Even if you prepaid your accommodation online through a third-party travel website, you'll still have to cough up the coins.

The standard rate of the V.A.T. (Value-Added Tax, known in France as T.V.A.) is now 20%, with luxury goods taxed at a higher rate (up to 33%) and restaurant food taxed at a lower one (10%). The V.A.T. for services (restaurants, theaters, etc.) is not refundable, but foreigners are often entitled to a V.A.T. refund on goods they buy. To be eligible for one, the item (or items) that you purchased must have been bought in a single day in a participating store (look for the "Tax-Free" sticker on the door) and must equal or exceed €175.01.

A new procedure for obtaining this refund—the PABLO system—was launched in 2014. Participating retailers will provide you with a computer-generated PABLO Value-Added Tax (V.A.T.) refund form containing a bar code and the PABLO logo. You then scan the code before checking in at the airport for your outbound flight. PABLO machines at CDG and Orly provide service in English and can credit the refunded amount directly to your bank account.

At the airport, be sure to have your passport, your ticket, and your PABLO form for items purchased. Go to the La Détaxe/tax refund machine, scan the form’s bar code and you’ll receive a message "OK bordereau validé" (OK, form approved). An electronic confirmation will be sent directly to the retailer for your reimbursement to be processed. Remember, this must be done before checking in your luggage.

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