Did I tell you about falling for the Sephora pitch for Dior eye bags fixer-upper? I am sure I did. Well, I fell for it. And spent big bucks partly relying on their assurance that I could get my tax back at the airport as long as I was leaving within 30 days. And in November I was going to Maroc. Not like I was staying in the EU when I went to London (and left the Schengen) (complicated, I know!)
So I filled out all the paperwork and gave it to Sephora who gave me a receipt with a bar code on it. Good to go.
Except it didn’t.
I tried three times on the easy machine at the airport but it wouldn’t read the bar code. So I innocently went to the guy at the douane (customs) office. Who didn’t speak English well or so he pretended. He took my paper and my passport. After much looking, he said it didn’t work. I said Sephora told me to do this… we went back and forth til he said Sephora wasn’t customs. And Yikes at that. Because I wasn’t trying to say Sephora was right, I just wanted him to know that it wasn’t MY idea. Then he explained to me that while I was here on a 6 months visa, I was considered a “resident” and so the Value Added Tax would not be refunded. Okey Dokey. I didn’t mean to do anything wrong. I want to be under the radar at all times. I took my passport and skedaddled.
And interesting, when I went through border control the next two times, the ladies took forever to stamp my passport. One time she couldn’t make her reader read it. I don’t know if they flagged my passport? I hope not. But I am totally legit.
Now I could legitimately apply for a VAT refund because I am leaving in less than 2 weeks and I am on a tourist stay, but you have to spend over 100 euros and I think it is more – at one store in one day. Given my $800 limit for returning items in the US, I don’t need to add any new purchases.
So enjoy my taxes, France.