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I was unable to validate my tax-free forms when I left. What can I do?
I was unable to validate my tax-free forms when I left. What can I do?
Chantal avatar
Written by Chantal
Updated over a week ago

Here are 3 options to consider, ordered by their relative ease of implementation.

  • 1st solution to consider -> return to the EU

    • Return to the EU with the goods and then validate the form when returning to your country of residence. This must be done before the expiry of the form (3 months).

    • This is the only solution when the non-validation results from a personal motive: oversight, lack of time at the airport, long queue at the kiosks …

    • This solution is often impractical given the short time frame and the need to come back with all the goods in the EU and bring them out again.

  • 2nd solution in case of a “malfunction” of the customs service -> contact customs without delay

    • Type de malfunction:

      • Malfunction of the kiosks: the tax-free form appeared on the screen as “validated” but the information was not transmitted, and it still shows as “not presented” on the customs server.

      • Malfunction during a validation performed by a customs officer: the customs officer validated the tax-free form(s) using a hand-held device or by manually entering the barcodes digits, but one or more forms still shows as “not validated” on the customs system.

    • Solution -> contact customs without delay

      • The sooner the better (your stop may still be fresh in the minds of the custom agents who processed your forms).

      • Initiate contact preferably by phone or e-mail.

      • Explain the situation.

      • In some cases, customs will agree to analyze your situation immediately and possibly validate your forms.

      • To contact the relevant customs department, try first to contact the “economic activity centre” (“Pôle d’Activité Economique” or PAE) which oversees the customs desk that processed your tax-free forms (see list of PAE here).

      • If necessary, contact us so we can guide you.

  • 3rd solution: a posteriori procedure

    • When to use this procedure?

      • If other solutions are not feasible or have not worked.

      • If the non-validation is due to a customs malfunction or to the absence of customs officers at your point of exit.

    • Steps of the procedure:

      • Obtaining proof of export of the goods :

        • Either a certificate of presentation of the goods issued by the French embassy or consulate of your country of residence (alternatively, a stamp on the original forms is accepted).

        • Or a receipt of payment of import duties and taxes issued by the customs authorities of the country of residence.

      • Sending a request to activate the a posteriori procedure:

    • Where to send your request?

      • Send your request by email to the person in charge of tax-free shopping within the “economic action unit” (Pole d’Activité Economique or PAE) which oversees the tax-free desk that processed your tax-free form (see list of PAE here).

      • If necessary, call Customs. This often makes it easier to unblock cases.

    • Specific cases where your country of residence has a attaché douanier » à l’ambassade de France :

      • The customs attachés can validate tax-free forms directly in the electronic platform used by customs (PABLO) -> instant regularization without sending a request in France.

      • Countries affected: Thailand (Bangkok), Serbia (Belgrade), Colombia (Bogota), Senegal (Dakar), United Arab Emirates (Dubai), United Kingdom (London), United States (Washington and Miami), Russia (Moscow), China (Beijing), Morocco (Rabat) and Brazil (Sao Paulo).

      • Contact details of customs attachés: here.

      • If necessary, call them. This often makes it easier to unblock cases.

      • Note: the customs attachés have areas of competence that cover several countries -> even if your country is not in the list above, click here to check if it is not covered by a customs attaché.


  • The a posteriori procedure described above works for all your tax-free forms (French and non-French) that you were unable to validate when you left the EU from an exit point located in France.

  • If you were unable to have your forms validated when you left the EU from a country other than France, please contact us.

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