Shop Tax-Free in France With Your Smartphone

Shop Tax-Free in France With Your Smartphone

While tax-free shopping is a great and profitable option for non-EU residents – post-Brexit, this now includes British visitors to France – the process is complicated and cumbersome. The easy, government-approved ZappTax system simplifies the VAT refund process and can be used when shopping in any store in France, Belgium, or Spain. Everyone who is eligible can take full advantage of this right to save.


What is the VAT refund process? Are you eligible for it? How to get your VAT refund?

Anyone whose main residence is outside the European Union has the right to a VAT refund. Buyers can request a VAT refund on any purchase made in the EU and taken home, in their luggage, to their country of residence. Surprisingly few people are aware of this profitable option.

What qualifies you for a VAT refund?

  1. You must reside outside the European Union
  2. A minimum purchase threshold to claim VAT refund is set by each country, with a threshold applicable per store and per day (which is very restrictive) OR it is applicable on all the purchases made during your stay.
  3. You must leave the EU before the end of the third month following the month of purchase
  4. You must leave the EU with all the goods on which you want to claim the VAT refund in your luggage.
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Zapptax (C) Zapptax

How can you shop tax-free in the EU? You have two ways to shop tax-free:

  1. The traditional system is to have a VAT refund provided by the vendor, most often in collaboration with an intermediary called a “tax-refund operator”. Since shop owners are not obliged to offer VAT refunds, most don’t – not all stores where you shop will provide you with the slip you require. Fewer than 15% of France’s 600,000 retail businesses offer a VAT refund service!
  2. The easy ZappTax system, which simplifies the VAT refund process and can be used when shopping in any store in France, Belgium, or Spain. Besides, within the traditional system, it is not possible to shop tax-free online (with very few exceptions), and a minimum purchase is required before a vendor can issue a tax-refund form. The commission fees are substantial and there is lack of customer support in the event of a problem. For all of these reasons (and more), VAT refunds are a benefit that very few travellers to the EU take advantage of.

And that’s where ZappTax comes in…

With ZappTax, instead of a tax-refund form, you simply ask at the time of payment for an “invoice including VAT in the name of ZappTax”. All merchants are legally obliged to issue such an invoice (a time-stamped commercial document as opposed to a simple receipt) on request.

Zapptax (C) Zapptax

All you need to do is take a photo of each invoice and upload it to the ZappTax application, available as a free download on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Once you are done shopping, ask the ZappTax team to generate your tax-refund form. This will be sent to you by email and stored for retrieval at any time in your ZappTax app account.

You will need to validate this tax-free form (in France and Spain, directly from your smartphone at a self-service terminal; in Belgium, by showing your passport to the customs officer) when leaving the EU. Once your documents have been validated, your VAT refund will be available within 24 hours, depending on your chosen payment method (PayPal or bank account).

In the event of problems or if you just have questions, our team is available 24/7 via in-app chat, email ([email protected]), phone, or social media.


  1. Shop tax-free at any store…
    VAT refunds are something a merchant may choose not to
    provide, but they are legally obliged to issue an invoice when requested by a customer. ZappTax makes VAT refunds possible everywhere!
  2. Even online!
    Nothing could be as simple as requesting an invoice on an e-commerce site, right? You can now shop tax-free online, provided the merchant has a European VAT number.
    Note that ZappTax works for online purchases provided the delivery is in the EU – it doesn’t work if you buy online in France but ask for the goods to be delivered in the UK.
  3. Shop without a minimum
    purchase threshold per store per day. Since ZappTax generates the tax-refund form post-purchase, you no longer have to reach the minimum threshold per shop and per day. You just need to pass this minimum threshold for the total amount of purchases during your stay.
  4. Get fast refunds at a better refund rate. ZappTax offers you a fast, progressive refund: within 24 hours, you can recoup up to 90% of your VAT! The more you buy, the more you save.
  5. Count on us 24/7 to help you throughout the process.


In 2017, the co-founders of ZappTax (both residents outside the EU and therefore eligible for VAT refund) devised an innovative system that overcomes almost all the problems of the traditional VAT refund system.

ZappTax’s mission is plain and simple:

Help international travellers to more easily obtain refunds of the value added tax (VAT) they pay on goods they purchase while travelling abroad. ‘More easily’ means a more convenient and streamlined refund process, higher and faster refunds… combined with 24/7 flexible and instant customer support during the entire refund process.


Lead photo credit : Zapptax (C) Zapptax

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