If your non-French company does not carry out transactions that are liable for VAT in France, it may, under certain conditions, be refunded VAT connected with business expenses incurred in France.
Foreign businesses established in the European Union
The terms and conditions stipulated in Council Directive 2008/9/EC of 12 February 2008 concerning foreign businesses established in the European Union have been enacted into French law in Articles 240-0 M to 242-0 Z ter of Annex II to the French General Tax Code (CGI).
If you have a foreign business established in a Member State of the European Union, to obtain a VAT refund you must:
file your claim using the electronic means placed at your disposal by the State in which you are established, in accordance with the provisions of Council Directive 2008/9/EC of 12 February 2008. For more information on how to file a claim, please contact the tax authorities in your Member State of establishment.
submit by electronic means scanned originals of the invoices or importation documents. Submission is mandatory when the taxable amount on an invoice is €1,000 or more (or €250 in the case of fuel). Scanned invoices must appear in the same order as their line-by-line entry.
comply with the refund time periods and minimums. Claims may not encompass a period greater than one calendar year (€50 minimum) or shorter than three calendar months (€400 minimum). Claims may not straddle two calendar years. In practice, you may file a maximum of four claims, each for a minimum time period of three calendar months, plus a supplementary annual claim.
file your claim by 30 September of the calendar year following the refund period. You may file claims prior to this date in order to speed up the processing of your claim.
supply your banking details in the form of IBAN and BIC codes.
You may be represented by a representative of your choice. In this case, the original mandate (see model in notice 3560 A) must be sent by mail to the VAT Refund Department (SR-TVA).
Foreign companies established outside the European Union
The refund conditions for VAT payable in France by foreign companies established outside the European Union are set out in Directive 86/560/EEC of 17 November 1986 (Thirteenth Directive).
The terms and conditions have been enacted into French law in Articles 242-0 Z quater to 242-0 Z decies of Annex II to the French General Tax Code.
Decree 2021-507 of 27 April 2021 amends Article 242-0 Z septies of Annex II to the French General Tax Code by specifying the new conditions for filing VAT refund claims by professionals which are not established in an EU Member State.
Refunds of this type are reserved for taxable persons established outside the European Union that do not have a permanent establishment in France and that do not supply goods or provide services that are liable for VAT in France.
“Taxable person” means any individual or entity that, in an independent manner, supplies goods or provides services related to a business activity in its State of establishment.
The expenses for which VAT refunds are claimed must be required for the business activity of the foreign taxable person.
New conditions for filing VAT refund claims and supporting documents
Since 1 July 2021, VAT refund claims filed by tax representatives on behalf of taxable persons established in a country outside the EU must be submitted online.
Supporting documents (bank details, invoices and importation documents when the taxable amount is €1,000 or more or €250 for fuel expenses) must be sent electronically in support of claims.
Online filing of VAT refund claims pursuant to the Thirteenth European Directive has been available since 1 July 2021.
If the tax representative already has a professional account, the service will be accessible from the secure messaging system in their account on impots.gouv.fr.
Messagerie (Messaging system)
TVA et taxes annexes (VAT and related taxes)
Demande de remboursement de TVA par un assujetti établi dans un pays hors Union Européenne (13ème directive 86-560-CEE, art. 271-V-d du CGI) (VAT refund claim by a taxable person not established in Community territory (Thirteenth Council Directive 86/560/EEC, Art. 271-V-d of the French General Tax Code))
Otherwise, a request should be made to sign up for the service.
More information on signing up for the secure messaging system can be found in the FOCUS fact sheet at the following link: Messagerie des professionnels (Business mailboxes).
If the tax representative does not yet have a professional account, they must set one up in either in basic or expert mode on impots.gouv.fr before applying to sign up for the secure messaging system.
Further information on setting up a professional account and signing up for services can be found in the following fact sheets: Setting up a professional account in basic mode and signing up for services / Créer un espace professionnel expert (Setting up a professional account in expert mode) / Demander une adhésion aux services en ligne (mode expert) (Request to sign up for online services (expert mode)) / Messagerie des professionnels (Business mailboxes)
When a service has been signed up for, an activation code is sent by mail to the tax representative’s address for correspondence that is in the managing department’s records and, automatically, to their business address. The validity of the address for correspondence provided to the Public Finances Directorate General (DGFiP) should be checked and any requests for changes should be referred to the managing Business Tax Department. “
The code, which is valid for 60 days, enables the service to be activated in the professional account. If it is not activated within 60 days, the signing up procedure will have to be repeated.
Mandatory wording on invoices
Expenses must be justified by correctly issued invoices that mention:
a unique number based on a continuous chronological sequence
your full name and address, as well as the name and address of your supplier
the supplier’s individual VAT identification number
the date the invoice was issued or delivered
any discounts, rebates or refunds
the quantity and precise name of the good or service being supplied or provided
the unit price net of tax, the amount of VAT owed and the legally applicable VAT rate
To obtain a VAT refund, the tax representative must:
file a refund claim, written in French and denominated in euros, using the secure messaging system in their professional account on impots.gouv.fr (with Internet Explorer or Firefox)
indicate the contact details (name, telephone number and email address) of a person that the department may contact if necessary
send scanned originals of the invoices or importation documents together with the refund claim
comply with refund minimums (€400 for quarterly claims and €50 for annual claims)
file the refund claim as from the first day of the month following the period for which the refund is being requested and until 30 June of the year following the year concerned by the claim
supply complete and accurate details of the recipient bank account, including the name of the bank, its full address (city and country), the name of the account holder and the references of the account to be credited. This will speed up your refund and help you avoid bank charges. For refunds to a French bank account, please provide a RIB (relevé d’identité bancaire).
Appointment of a tax representative
Foreign companies not established in an EU Member State which do not carry out transactions making them liable for VAT in France must appoint a tax representative, who must be a taxable person liable for VAT established in France, and who has been duly accredited by the tax authorities.
The appointment is formalised by a mandate, signed by the requesting company and its representative, and authorising this representative to carry out VAT refund claim procedures on the company’s behalf (see model in notice 3560-B).
Online directories and databases provide easy access to the contact details of tax representatives.
The representative must be accredited by the VAT Refund Department at the Non-Residents Tax Directorate, whose contact details are provided below.
To obtain accreditation, the representative must submit a written request to the department, together with a copy of their registration document (extrait K-Bis), their appointment by the company and their acceptance, and comply with the following conditions:
Commit to repaying any VAT that may have been unduly refunded
Have a clean tax record
The representative will be informed of whether their accreditation has been approved or denied in writing.
Accreditation may be withdrawn at any moment if the representative fails to fulfil their personal obligations, or if they habitually submit refund claims that contain numerous errors or break the law.
Refer to notice 3560-B-SD to learn more.