top of page


Company Formation
Entity Management 
Residency for Entrepreneurs

All About VAT in France

VAT, or Value Added Tax, is a consumption tax in France. It's added to the price of goods and services. In this article, we will explore how VAT is calculated, who needs to pay it, and what goods and services are subject to VAT in France. Understanding VAT is important for residents and businesses in France, so let's dive in and demystify this tax.

What is VAT in France?

Basics of VAT

VAT, or Value Added Tax, is a consumption tax. It's applied to goods and services at every stage of production.

In France, VAT is an indirect tax. It's imposed on the added value of each stage of production or distribution.

The final amount of VAT is paid by the end consumer. They bear the economic burden of the tax.

All businesses that sell goods or services in France, whether they are based domestically or abroad, must pay VAT.

To pay VAT in France, businesses need to register for a VAT number with the local tax authorities.

Once registered, they must charge VAT on their sales and remit the collected VAT to the tax authorities regularly.

Businesses must submit an application for VAT registration with the necessary documentation. This includes proof of business activities and financial records.

After registration, businesses have to comply with reporting and record-keeping requirements to remain in compliance with VAT regulations in France.

The Role of VAT in France

VAT, or value-added tax, is an important part of the economy in France. It's a consumption tax on the purchase price of goods and services. The standard VAT rate is 20%, with reduced rates of 10% and 5.5% on certain items like food, hotel accommodation, and some medical products.

This tax revenue is used to fund public services and infrastructure. However, VAT in France also faces challenges and controversies. Concerns include its regressive nature, impact on low-income individuals, and potential for tax fraud. Effective management of VAT and its revenue is crucial for a fair and sustainable tax system that supports the country's economic development.

Types of Goods and Services Affected

VAT in France affects a wide range of products and offerings, including clothing, electronics, and household items. Services like transportation, accommodation, and eating out at restaurants are also subject to VAT.

Every industry is affected differently. For instance, the retail industry faces increased costs for goods, while the tourism sector deals with higher travel and accommodation expenses. The restaurant industry experiences the impact of VAT through increased menu prices, influencing consumer behavior and dining trends.

VAT Rates in France

Standard VAT Rate

The standard VAT rate in France is 20%. It applies to most goods and services like electronics, clothing, and restaurant meals. France also has reduced rates of 10% and 5.5%, and a super reduced rate of 2.1%. The reduced rates apply to items like basic foodstuffs, some medical products, and public transportation. The super reduced rate is mainly for certain food items, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.

These different rates help make essential goods and services more affordable.

For example, the reduced rate for public transportation encourages the use of public transit, reducing congestion and pollution in urban areas.

Reduced VAT Rate

France has a reduced VAT rate for specific goods and services. For items like food, water, and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as some medical products and newspapers, the rate is 5.5%. Transportation, cultural events such as cinema tickets or museum entrances, also benefit from this reduced rate.

This lower tax rate aims to make goods and services more accessible, while the standard 20% rate applies to most other items. Lower-income individuals, like students, retirees, or people with disabilities, and charities and non-profit organizations, may be eligible for the reduced VAT rate.

The reduced VAT rate directly impacts the cost of living, access to cultural events, and the budget of those receiving reduced prices. As a result, it plays an important role in consumer welfare and social policy in France.

Super Reduced VAT Rate

The Super Reduced VAT rate in France is a special tax category. It is applied to certain goods and services. This rate is significantly lower than the standard and reduced VAT rates. It is favorable for specific products and services, particularly necessities like food items, pharmaceutical products, and some public transportation services. Books and newspapers also fall under this category. The goal is to make essential goods and services more affordable and accessible to the general public.

This helps relieve the cost of living, benefiting lower-income individuals and families.

Special VAT Rate for Corsica

Corsica in France has a special VAT rate of 8%. This is different from the standard rate of 20%, the reduced rate of 10%, and the super reduced rate of 5.5%. The special rate is designed to consider the economic and social situation of the region, aiming to promote economic development and maintain social cohesion.

Specific goods and services affected by the special VAT rate for Corsica include retail products, hotel services, food and beverages, and agricultural products. This rate applies to transactions between businesses and consumers within the region. Its purpose is to support local businesses and contribute to the overall development of Corsica's economy.

Who Pays VAT in France?

Consumers and VAT

VAT, or value-added tax, is a tax paid by consumers in France. It's included in the price of goods and services and charged at different rates based on the type of product or service. For instance, the standard VAT rate in France is 20%. Reduced rates of 10% and 5.5% apply to items like food, books, and public transportation.

Non-EU residents may be able to get a VAT refund on purchases made in France. To do this, they need to get a special form from the retailer when making the purchase. Then, when leaving the country, they must present the form and the goods at the customs office for validation. After validation, they can claim the VAT refund.

Businesses and VAT

Businesses in France may need to register for VAT if their yearly sales surpass a specific threshold. Once registered, they must collect VAT from customers and submit it to the government. This applies to both local and international businesses selling in France. France has a standard VAT rate of 20%, with reduced rates of 10% and 5.5% for items like food, medical goods, and transportation.

Choosing the right VAT rate can greatly affect a business's pricing and competitiveness, so understanding the rates is crucial.

Additionally, businesses importing goods into France must pay import VAT upon entry. Therefore, understanding various VAT rates and registration obligations is essential for those looking to operate in France.

VAT and Foreign Companies

Foreign companies operating in France are affected by the VAT system. The standard VAT rate is 20%. This affects their pricing strategy and financial planning. It's a significant cost that needs to be factored into their operations.

To register for VAT in France, foreign companies need a permanent establishment or make taxable supplies in the country. They also need to appoint a tax representative who is jointly liable for any VAT due in France.

Goods and services such as electronics, clothing, food, and transportation are all subject to VAT for foreign companies in France. This means these companies need to carefully consider the impact of VAT on their costs and pricing to remain competitive in the French market.

Registering for VAT in France

Requirements for VAT Registration

In France, businesses that supply goods or services must register for VAT if their turnover goes above a certain limit. For companies supplying goods, the current threshold is €82,800, and for those offering services, it's €33,200. To register, a business needs to fill out an application form and submit it to the tax authorities along with necessary documentation. This may include proof of identity, business activity, and an extract from the trade and companies register.

Once registered, the business gets a VAT Identification Number (VATIN), which is crucial for all VAT-related transactions within the country. This number is needed for invoicing, filing VAT returns, and claiming VAT refunds. Not meeting these requirements can lead to penalties and fines. It's important for businesses to carefully assess if they meet the criteria for VAT registration in France.

How to Register

To register for VAT in France, a business must meet specific requirements. These include having a physical presence or making taxable supplies in the country. Once these requirements are met, the next step is to apply for VAT registration. This can be done online through the French tax authorities' website or by submitting a paper form.

Upon successful application, the business will receive a VAT identification number, which is necessary for carrying out taxable transactions in France.

Additionally, if the business does not have a fixed establishment or usual residence in the European Union, it will need to appoint a fiscal representative. This representative is responsible for ensuring the business complies with its VAT obligations and can interact with the French tax authorities on behalf of the business.

The process for obtaining a VAT identification number in France is relatively straightforward. However, businesses must ensure they fulfill all the necessary requirements and provide accurate information during the registration process.

VAT Identification Number

A VAT Identification Number is given to businesses registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) in France. This number helps identify taxable transactions and ensures VAT compliance. To get a VATIN in France, a business must register for VAT with the French tax authorities. This involves submitting an application form and business documents. Not having a valid VATIN in France can lead to fines, legal penalties, and inability to claim back VAT on expenses.

Therefore, having a valid VATIN is important for smooth business operations in the French market.

Filing VAT Returns in France

Deadlines for Filing

In France, VAT returns are due on the 20th of the following month. For example, if the VAT period is January, the return must be filed by February 20th.

Late filing can lead to penalties, based on the degree of lateness. These penalties can range from a percentage of unpaid VAT to a fixed penalty.

Businesses can file VAT returns electronically through the tax authority's website using a specific form. Another option is to enlist the help of a tax professional or accountant to ensure accurate and timely filing.

How to File a VAT Return

Filing a VAT return in France has different deadlines based on the type of business. For most small and medium-sized businesses, it's typically quarterly.

Businesses and individuals have the option to file online through the tax authorities' website or use accounting software compatible with the French tax system.

Late filing penalties in France can include a fine of up to 15% of the VAT amount due, along with additional interest charges for each month the return is late. Avoiding these penalties is crucial, so accurate and on-time filing is important.

Penalties for Late Filing

Penalties for late filing of VAT returns in France are based on the country's tax laws. The penalties depend on how many days the filing is overdue and the amount of VAT due. For instance, if a company misses the deadline, it could face a penalty of 0.2% of the VAT amount due for each day of delay, up to a maximum of 10%. In addition, a fixed penalty may apply if the VAT return is filed after the deadline.

These penalties aim to encourage compliance with tax regulations and discourage late filing. Businesses in France should be mindful of the filing deadlines and ensure they meet them to avoid penalties.

VAT Exemptions and Refunds in France

Items That Are VAT-Exempt

Certain items in France are VAT-exempt. These include specific food items, medical goods, and services. If you're a non-EU resident, you can qualify for VAT exemptions on certain purchases. These include medical equipment, construction work, and exports to non-EU countries. At the point of sale, non-residents must provide the necessary documentation to obtain a VAT refund. This involves filling out forms and getting a VAT refund form from the retailer.

There might also be a minimum purchase amount required for a VAT refund. However, not all items are eligible for a refund, so it's best to seek advice from a tax professional or retailer to ensure the right procedures are followed.

How to Get a VAT Refund

To get a VAT refund in France, you need to be a non-EU resident, meaning you live outside the European Union. Also, the purchase must be for personal use, not business. The minimum amount spent on eligible goods is typically 175 euros, but this varies.

To qualify for the VAT refund, you need to get a tax-free form, called a "cheque-toi" in France, from the retailer when you buy something. The form has to be filled out by the seller and include your name, passport number, and details of the item you bought.

When leaving France, show these forms to customs officials along with the items you bought to get them stamped for the VAT refund.

Finally, submit the completed and stamped forms to the VAT refund company chosen by the retailer to get your refund.

Refunds for Tourists

Tourists in France can get a VAT refund on items like clothing, shoes, and luxury goods. To qualify, the total value of the items must be above a certain amount. When leaving France, tourists need to show the items, original receipts, and their passport. Customs offices at airports and ports can stamp the refund paperwork to confirm the export. Remember to leave enough time to get the customs stamp before leaving France.

Wrapping up

VAT in France is called "TVA". The standard VAT rate is 20%, with reduced rates of 10% and 5.5% for specific goods and services.

Businesses with a turnover above a certain threshold must register for VAT. Those below the threshold can choose to register voluntarily. VAT returns and payments are usually due monthly or quarterly, based on the business's turnover.

Understanding the VAT rules in France is crucial for businesses operating in the country.