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 expenditures made in France for the purposes of its professional activity.
Foreign businesses based in the EU
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. Where the invoice concerns fuel, the threshold is €250. Scanned invoices must appear in the same order as their line-by-line entry ;
- Comply with the refund time-periods and minimum thresholds. Claims may not encompass a period greater than one calendar year (threshold €50) or shorter than three calendar months (threshold €400). 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 at the latest by 30 September of the calendar year following the refund period. You may file two 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 proxy of your choice. In this case, the original of the power of attorney (see the example in form no. 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.
The terms and conditions have been enacted into French law in Articles 242-OZ quater to 242-OZ decies of Annex II of the French General Tax Code (CGI).
Refunds of this type are reserved for taxable persons established outside the European Union that are not established in France and that do not provide goods or services that are taxable in France.
"Taxable person" means any individual or entity that carries out, in an independent manner, supplies of goods or provisions of services related to an business activity in its State of establishment.
The expenses for which you are claiming a VAT refund must be related to your business activity.
The main exceptions to this include:
- Accommodation or housing expenses that your company has incurred for the benefit of its directors or employees; on the other hand, expenses for third parties may be admissible under certain conditions ;
- Expenses relating to vehicles for transporting persons and the services associated with them.
Invoices – mandatory elements
Expenses must be supported by invoices that must include:
- 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 ;
- A unique number based on a continuous chronological sequence ;
- 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.
All claims for VAT refunds must be submitted to the following department:
Service de Remboursement de la TVA aux entreprises étrangères (SR TVA)
10, rue du Centre
93465 Noisy le Grand Cedex
Telephone: + 33 1 57 33 84 00
To obtain a VAT refund, you must:
- Complete a refund claim form no. 3559 SD. The form must be in French and euro-denominated. To facilitate processing, please indicate the contact details (name, telephone and e-mail address) of a person that the department can contact if necessary ;
- Include your original invoices. They will be returned to you as soon as your claim is processed ;
- Comply with minimum refund thresholds (€400 for quarterly claims and €50 for annual claims) ;
- File your annual refund claims no later than 30 June of the following year. If you are filing a quarterly refund request, it must be filed within the month following the calendar quarter in question ;
- Supply complete and accurate details of the recipient bank account, including the name of the institution, its complete address (city and country), as well as the name of the account holder and the IBAN and BIC codes. This will help 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
Since your company is established outside of a European Union Member State, you must appoint a tax representative, who must be a taxable person liable for VAT established in France, and who is known to the tax authorities. You must provide a power of attorney, signed by your company and your representative, which authorises the representative to file claims on your behalf (see the example in form no. 3560 B).
You should be easily able to find the contact details for a tax representative in an online telephone directory.
Your representative must be approved by the VAT refund department.
To obtain this approval, your representative must submit a written request to the department, together with your appointment and his or her acceptance. The representative must:
- Commit to paying VAT on your behalf in the case where you have received an undue reimbursement ;
- Be impeccably honest in matters of taxation.
The granting or refusal of approval will be notified in written form to your representative. This approval may be withdrawn at any moment if the representative fails to fulfil his or her personal obligations, or if he or she habitually submits refund claims that contain errors or which run counter to the legislation in force.