Have you ever wondered if purchasing something in its country of origin is less expensive? I have over the years and always figured that with the Exchange rate for the Euro I was probably better off just buying it at home. Then I started doing some research!
Back in 2014 I was Jones-ing for one of those Louis Vuitton Neverfull bags so I started looking into the prices. At the time, I was planning a trip to Paris to meet my daughter and small grandson who were living in Qatar at the time; we figured Paris was a good Mid-point (mama didn’t raise any fools) …….That’s my cute Grandson Ford below.
I had poked my head into a few LV stores here at home but honestly don’t feel super comfortable in stores that are that high-end so I took my investigation to the Internet. I went onto the Louis Vuitton U.S. site and started shopping, picking out things that I liked and thought I might be able to afford and came up with a short list. Since I was going to be in Paris, I went over to the Louis Vuitton site for France. They have one for every country, but it is in that country’s language and currency so my not-so-strong French and my handy currency calculator got a work out! It was not hard to navigate the site. I had the name of the product I was interested in so I typed it in the search box and it came up with the product and the price in Euro.
Ok, this is where it might seem complicated but it’s not, so stick with me. For sake of example, I went on today and did the same search. The Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM bag is $1400 on the US website. If you add 7.5% sales tax to that, it is a little over $1500.00. Are you sweating yet? Ok. The same bag on the LV France and Italy website is 1040 Euro. Now I pull out my trusty currency converter (I use Oanda which also has a great phone APP) and 1040 Euro comes to around $1250.00 so as you can see that so far we are at a $250 price difference.
Now!! Let’s take a look at the VAT tax refund that I would get for this bag. The minimum amount you have to purchase in France is around 175 Euro, and that means things purchased at one time in one store (hotels and meals don’t count)
I went to the Global Blue website, they have a calculator for what my refund would be on this purchase. It is 124.80 Euro which calculates to about $150.00 US Dollars. Are you asleep yet? Don’t be!! You are so much closer to getting the bag of your dreams!! In summary here, you would be getting a designer bag that would cost you $1500 in the US for $1100.00!!! That’s a $400 savings. The other SUPER fun part of this is that you can go into your Louis Vuitton store in France or Italy, know exactly what you are looking for, have a glass of champagne while they monogram it for FREE…yep, that’s right.. and walk away feeling like you got a great deal.
Now for the VAT part!! VAT means Value Added tax. The VAT tax is a little over 20% which can sound painful but if you are not a European resident, you can get some of that money back when you leave the country.
· You will need your passport for identification in the store! Don’t forget it or they can’t give you the form.
· Ask your salesperson for the Tax-refund form, they will fill out their part and stamp it for you.
· Save your receipt! You will need it to get your refund
· You will bring your tax refund form and receipt and the item to the Tax Refund desk at the airport before you depart Europe. Make sure to get there a little early to do this, the line can be long. I would look up in advance the location of the Refund Desk at my departure airport is.
They will either give you cash or put it back on the credit card that you used for purchasing which is my preference.
www.globalblue.com is a great resource with updated info and APPS. You will have to scroll down to the bottom of the home page, it a busy website. There you will find the country minimums for VAT refunds, as of this writing it is 175 Euro for France and 155 Euro for Italy.
By doing a little online research ahead of time and using a VAT form, you’ll be able to buy that signature item in its country of origin for a deal! And who doesn’t like a deal???
If you’d like more tips and advice on travel to Europe be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest . If you’re thinking of traveling to Europe but don’t want to deal with all the planning involved, contact me for help. I’d love to give you inspiration and guidance!