Shopping & Saving on Designer goods in Europe (& VAT refund tips)

paris designer luxury handbags shopping guide tips

Outfit from this post

Shopping is always a treat in Europe, but with the Euro (and GPB) at a continued low relative to the dollar, some of the price differences on designer goods can be quite significant! If you plan on traveling there and have a particular item or two on your wishlist, it could be well worth it to wait and purchase abroad. In this post I wanted to share some general shopping tips, and for an upcoming post I’ll have price comparisons on popular items (including what I got!), along with notes for shopping at specific stores like Hermes, Chanel, Celine, and such.

There’s a few factors that affect the potential savings on your European shopping spree: geographical price differences, the current exchange rate, and everyone’s favorite – VAT refunds. Making the most out of each requires just a little prep and research…

tips for buying designer handbags in europe

Some brands have minimized global price differences on items (after exchange rates are factored in), whereas others still have much lower pricing in certain countries. There’s a few ways to find out local pricing in advance of a trip:

– Visit the brand’s website and change the geographical location to that of your destination. If the brand does e-commerce (like Prada, Fendi, LV) this setting is easy to switch as the “shipping destination.” If it doesn’t (like Chanel, Celine), changing the language alone won’t give you prices in local currency, so it might take a little maneuvering to fake your browser’s geographical location.

where to buy designer handbags _louis vuitton cheaper in paris

*approx rates used: 6% US sales tax, 12% VAT refund

– Websites like Spotted Fashion or Brag My Bag have fairly current prices by region for popular designer goods. Here’s one for Chanel bags in Europe, for example. Notes these prices are updated by their website contributors or members, so might not be 100% up to date or accurate.
– You could also try calling or emailing a specific international boutique to ask.

saving on designer handbags in europe paris

There’s nothing like hefty fees hacking away at a favorable exchange rate! Many credit cards charge 3% on foreign currency transactions, and those currency exchange kiosks at the airport have terrible conversion rates (no surprise) plus a fee per exchange.

Use a credit card without foreign transaction fees. There are several credit card review websites out there with comparisons on the best cards without such fees!

Choose local instead of home currency on credit card purchases (of course, this only applies if your credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees). When using a US-based credit card, sometimes at checkout in a foreign country you get the choice of being charged in the local vs. your home currency. This may seem enticing, however I’ve calculated the implied conversion rate a few times for home currency and it’s always notably less favorable than the actual conversion rate.

Notify your credit card company of upcoming travels, to avoid finding your card frozen by the fraud monitoring department just as you’re trying to purchase that dream bag!

Designer Bag Shopping Europe VAT tax refund

Unlike in the US where tax is an additional amount charged at checkout, price tags on goods in the European Union countries already include a hefty tax (averaging around 20%) in the displayed price. Non-EU residents can get a portion of that tax (~ 12%) refunded on non-consumable merchandise. So for a purchase totaling 1000 EUR at checkout, you could receive 120 EUR back. Here’s how to make sure you get that refund!

1. Make a qualifying purchase at a participating retailer. In France, in order to qualify for a VAT refund you need to spend a minimum of 175 EUR at one store (minimum threshold differs from country to country, and France has the highest!). All the bigger and chain stores I went into were well-versed in the VAT refund process, but I wouldn’t be sure about smaller businesses – doesn’t hurt to just ask.

2. Prior to checkout, tell the store associate that you need VAT refund paperwork. You’ll need to show your passport to prove you’re a non-resident, then receive an envelope with the refund paperwork along with a receipt. You’ll receive a new envelope at every store you make a qualifying purchase.

3. Before leaving the European Union, show your purchases and get your paperwork stamped by customs at an airport tax refund counter. If you visit and shop at multiple EU countries, just make sure to have all your forms stamped prior to flying out of the last one. And if you’re leaving by another means of transit like train or car, it could get a little tricky finding an office.

Make sure to allocate enough time before your flight, as the refund counters could be crowded or hard to find. Some of my purchases were successfully “stamped” by a quick kiosk, whereas for others I had to show the agent. You might also need to show the agent proof that your purchases are leaving the country, so if you packed your items in luggage that will be checked, do this prior to checking in. I’ve also been told to avoid wearing the merchandise at the airport in order to show that it is new.

Heads up: The tax-free counter at Charles de Gaulle airport can be an absolute zoo. Prepare to futilely swim to the front through a sea of tour group grandmas wielding 3 LV bags each. We’ve also flown out of Orly in Paris and I was literally the only person at that counter, which is oddly located on the arrivals floor (but downside: no good shopping at Orly while waiting for your flight).

4. Choose to receive your refund either immediately at the counter in cash, or via your credit card which takes about 3 weeks. If you choose cash, the amount is less (10.8% cash versus 12% on a credit card) and it’s given to you in the local currency. On the plus side, you do get it immediately without risk of potentially never receiving it. Note most stores use a third party service (the main ones are Global Blue or Premier Tax Free) to facilitate the refund paperwork process. These intermediaries take a portion of the refund as a admin charge – the 10.8% cash and 12% credit card refund rates are what you’re supposed to receive net after admin charges.

5. Mail the stamped paperwork (I usually find a mailbox at the airport). The envelopes should already be pre-paid for postage and have mailing addresses printed on them for the third party service offices. Both Global Blue and Premier Tax Free allow you to track the status of your refund online (so jot down your paperwork numbers), though I’m not sure how responsive they’d be
to any inquiries of missing refunds.

paris outfit winter fashion navy coat extra petite

Ted Baker coat & Celine box bag ~ two of my VAT-free souvenirs!

how to buy and save on designer handbags in paris france

Compile a specific wish list and stick to it to avoid impulse purchases due to aimless browsing and VAT refund goggles (“oh…I know this $3,000 bag isn’t the size or color or style I wanted, but its so much cheaper here than in the US!!”), especially ones that can’t be returned. Most of my VAT-refund eligible purchases were stamped final sale.

Shop at department stores to more easily meet the VAT refund minimum. If you plan on buying an item that falls below the minimum purchase threshold, see if it’s also available at a department store where you can buy items from multiple other brands in one place.

Ask if you don’t see what you’re looking for. Designer boutiques often keep much of their stock in storage, not out on display, so ask if you’re looking for a specific color or material in something.

Use the store inventory system. If the store you’re at doesn’t have what you’re looking for, politely ask your SA to help check whether any other nearby location does. Some brands (like H of course) may not allow this, but Celine, G oyard, Prada, Louboutin and a few others were all happy to when I asked. One Chanel SA said they could not share info on stock between stores, but others still did.

Shop for wishlist items early on in your trip. This allows max time to get an item if it’s not in stock at the moment. For example, one store had an item I was looking for, but only at their warehouse outside of the city which would take a day to ship from. Or, if something is out of stock, sometimes SAs know of upcoming shipments arriving over the next few days. And last but not least, some stores offer complimentary alterations, adjustments, or monogramming on select products but the service might take a few days to complete.

Let me know if you have any questions on the above, and stay tuned for Part 2! I would also love to hear about your Europe shopping stories and tips, along with any great deals or memorable purchases from your trips!


83 thoughts on “Shopping & Saving on Designer goods in Europe (& VAT refund tips)

  • La Bijoux Bella | by mia January 3, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    Wonderful tips! 🙂
    Merci for sharing.

    ❤LA BIJOUX BELLA❤ | BY MIA | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

  • Sheila January 3, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    This was perfect! I plan on shopping in Europe when we go in a few months and this post helped a lot because I was kinda clueless on all the VAT refund ! ☺️


  • jh January 3, 2017 at 11:51 pm

    Thank you for this!

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture and Lifestyle Blog January 4, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Super helpful, thank you!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • MizEats January 4, 2017 at 1:45 am

    Here's a quick tip if shopping in Paris – Printemps and certain other department stores provide tourists with 10% discount cards, which are even valid on sale items.

    For Printemps, you can print the discount card from its website.

    For other department stores, you can just ask a sales associate if the tourist discount can apply to your purchase.

  • Anonymous January 4, 2017 at 3:11 am

    these tips are so cool, thank you for sharing!
    Fash 'n' fudge
    Fash 'n' fudge

  • Rachelle Pinksole January 4, 2017 at 5:49 am

    saving this for future reference.


  • Sophie Spiegelberger January 4, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Great tips, this was so informative!

  • Jaime T January 4, 2017 at 8:51 am

    This is so helpful, thank you for sharing! I've always wondered how to do the VAT, but the desk like you said, is always a zoo with huuge lines.

  • Comer Blogar Amar January 4, 2017 at 8:52 am

    love your tips

    Comer, Blogar & Amar | Meu Canal YT

  • Cheyanne Jordan January 4, 2017 at 9:05 am

    Very informative – I'm tucking this post away for use later! Thank you 🙂

  • MeliRey January 4, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Thanks or the tips! I'm going to Dubai this year and might do some shopping. I recently purchased the j brand white jeans you recommend, and was wondering if they seem somewhat see thru to you?

  • MizEats January 4, 2017 at 10:01 am

    One other note – as the SA will need to verify you're a tourist, be prepared to provide identification,

  • Julie Hiller January 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Totally bookmarking this for my next Euro trip. Thanks for all the great tips!

    Style by Joules

  • Alyssa January 4, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    This is great, thanks for the tips! I'm heading to Italy in the spring and plan to make a splurge purchase while I'm there!

    Alyssa | Feathers and Stripes

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    That's a great tip! I completely forgot about that. Note to those who get the discount card – it can't be used on luxury and many mid-level brands or categories, but is still a good coupon to have.

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    Hi! I think all white jeans are a little see through to some degree, but I've tried on no less than dozens of different pairs, and the J.Brands I have are one of the more opaque ones! Make sure you're wearing skin-toned undies though, like with all white bottoms.

  • Alice In Silicon Valley January 4, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you for the information, love your Europe trip blog, we plan to go there in July. I am looking for the advise how do we use cell phone or date there, do you have any advise?

  • Sharmeen Khan January 4, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    You mention some stores offer complimentary alterations/adjustments etc., do you have a post about which brands do this? It would be good to have a fairly comprehensive list. I know that Burberry tailor and can also dry-clean macs, are you aware of others?

  • Ginger January 4, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    This was incredibly helpful, Jean! I'm definitely going to refer back to these tips the next time I travel internationally.

  • Rajal Patel January 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    This post is good. I wish I had it when I traveled to Paris this past May. The VAT refund is really nice and the minimum amount to be purchased is different in each country. Paris higher minimum than Milan which is where i got my Prada wallet i wanted. also, they ask for your passport to make sure you are a visitor and make them fill out all your forms so all you have to do is take it to the airport and give them the envelopes. it was super easy and i had my refund added back to my credit card. it appeared within the week. super fast!

  • Rajal Patel January 4, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    This post is good. I wish I had it when I traveled to Paris this past May. The VAT refund is really nice and the minimum amount to be purchased is different in each country. Paris higher minimum than Milan which is where i got my Prada wallet i wanted. also, they ask for your passport to make sure you are a visitor and make them fill out all your forms so all you have to do is take it to the airport and give them the envelopes. it was super easy and i had my refund added back to my credit card. it appeared within the week. super fast!

  • Unknown January 4, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Great article! I'm going to Europe this spring and will keep this in mind when I shop. Thank you 🙂

  • UrbnDaze January 4, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    In Rome, my husband and I had to go through three different lines. We had to get our paperwork stamped in an area separate from the kiosks, and then we had to line up twice, once for Global Blue and a second time for Premier. The lines can be really long. Definitely give yourself ample time.

    A tip for currency exchange – open a Capital One checking account and use the debit card to pull money from the ATMs in Europe. They don't charge ATM fees even in foreign countries.

  • Jessica January 4, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Having worked in retail, I can confirm that large department stores in the US, offer tourist discounts (generally 10%) on an on-demand basis. Of course, newer SAs may not know the policy so can ask for the manager to be sure.

  • Courtney January 4, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Super helpful! I'm going on a solo trip to London/Paris end of September….on the LV site for example, how can I see what the VAT is as you have indicated in red above? Additionally, I was wondering if you could also provide some helpful packing tips? What basics to pack for a week? I want to look chic yet comfortable

  • Anonymous January 4, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    My tour guide in Europe said luxury shopping in Italy is the cheapest! Which was true at gucci, LV, longchamp, and chanel when I did price comparison with goods sold in France, netberlands, and London. Paris is one of the most expensive cities to shop in. The Venice and turkey airports also had great deals also duty free.

  • Unknown January 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    My friend purchased a Goyard in Paris for me at the end of September and she has yet to see the VAT refund on her credit card. I'm worried that it's been lost or won't be getting it back. Alas, I still got a great deal with the exchange rate but it would've been nice to get the added VAT refund.

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    You could look into potential discounted international plans on your current mobile provider ahead of time (for AT&T; it was a $40 upfront fee and then data per mb was still fairly pricey), or purchase a Europe SIM card ahead of time if you have an unlocked phone. We buy unlocked iphones for this reason, but it is pricey to buy the phone upfront full price. You can also try to find free wifi at various locations.

    Any other advice would be appreciated, since this could be a costly issue for those without unlocked phones!

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Hi Sharmeen – unfortunately I don't have a list of brands, it was only something that I encountered by chance on this trip and only when I asked. For example I was shopping at Maje and they said they do complimentary alterations which takes 3 days – not sure if this is typical, or the norm of brands like that.

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    Oh man, the three lines sound very tedious! And great tip about Capital One. What did you do about currency that you wanted to exchange back to USD?

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Hi Courtney – I believe LV uses one of the bigger third party companies Global Blue or Premier Tax Free, so if you're a US resident visiting Paris (London may not be in the EU anymore, so not sure how that'd work!) 12% is a reasonable approximate estimate if you choose to get you refund via credit card. It won't show up anywhere on the website. On your receipt when you check-out in stores, it does break down the components of your purchase price and the exact amount you should expect refunded.

    As for packing … I have a post from last year on packing different type outfits for travel. Have fun!

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    I'm surprised by that! I looked into LV, Longchamp, and some other brands online and they had the same prices for all countries that use the Euro. I asked at Chanel and they said they price exactly the same in all EU countries including Italy and France. So the only potential difference I assumed would be the small difference in VAT refunds of 0.5% between those two countries. London yes there was variance due to the pound vs Euro. I jotted down a few prices on bags while in London and Paris, and Paris was marginally lower this time, but I know that fluctuates with the exchange rate.

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    That's so nice of your friend to do, but a bummer about the refund. Did she note down the refund application number for online tracking purposes?

  • Bunny J January 4, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Hi Jean! Thanks for your VAT tips. Do you worry that by getting your VAT back, when you pass through customs they will know you exceeded the allowable spend amount and you will get charged customs/duties when returning home? What was your experience or did you not declare your goods when returning home? I sometimes don't bother with VAT for that reason 🙁

  • Anonymous January 4, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Jean,

    You should include taking a photo of all the paperwork before mailing it.

    Thanks for writing this up! I have a trip coming up and although I've done the VAT once in the past, your post is really helpful!


  • affecionada January 4, 2017 at 8:04 pm

    This is such a helpful post! Bookmarking for future reference. x

    Jen | affecionada

  • Jean January 4, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Bunny – I don't know if VAT and US Customs systems are connected, but the max duty rate on items you declare is still less than the VAT refund (in the US, at least!). We declared our items but the officer just told us to go through. If anyone else has return customs experiences to share, that would be helpful!

  • Unknown January 4, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    I visited Europe in early Oct last year. I opted for the credit card VAT refund at the airport and got my refund in a few days. I also mailed in another VAT refund form from the US cause we didnt have time at the airport and got a credit card refund in a month. Be sure to get your purchase receipt custom stamp if you plan to mail it from home.

  • Maggie Zemanek January 4, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    This is incredibly helpful!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Heather January 4, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    If you happen to have t-mobile you get unlimited international data and texting for free when traveling aboard. depending on the country your data speed will vary. For london they were having a promo so i got LTE data which was pretty good cuz normally it's only 2G data speed.

  • Jamie January 4, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    Back in October my husband was on a work trip in London. After researching post-Brexit luxury item shopping, I sent him for an LV Zippy Wallet – a LONG TIME wish list item. Your post reminded me to make sure to check that the VAT was refunded to our credit card. It was and I am the happy owner of this classic wallet for $320 less than in the US!

  • i.rene January 4, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    or you can see if your US phone provider can unlock your phone.

  • i.rene January 4, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    I love duty free luxury shopping because you get the entire ~20% back (no processing fee from Global Blue or Premier Tax Free). Inventory can be tricky though – you can try calling ahead and they usually will reserve items close to your transit date. LHR has Chanel, Hermes, etc.

  • i.rene January 4, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    I have Global Entry so I'm pretty honest in case I get searched — I don't want to risk losing that! Don't draw attention to yourself. Being super organized with receipts and gift boxes, etc. can work against you. Some people like to carry e.g. their new Chanel purchase in a Chanel bag — hide it. If you have a male CBP agent, they can be too lazy to actually charge you a customs tax and can be clueless about the cost of luxury bags. (Sorry, this has happened to me a few times, at a major airport no less.) If you tell them what you have, they will often use that and won't bother searching you. You can declare up to $800 for free. For the next $1000, the tax is 3% and anything after that is hefty for leather bags (maybe 9-10%+?). Many luxury bags are well past $1800. If you're traveling with a significant other, you can pool your allowances, i.e. $1600 (duty free), +$2000 at 3%, etc.

    Also, CDG has automated customs stamping machines now, but it won't work for any high-ticket items.

  • Natalie January 4, 2017 at 11:33 pm

    Just went through this process in November when I purchased a boy bag in Barcelona. Definitely a daunting process when you've never done it before, but your outline looks to cover everything and will be super helpful to people! Hope to see a detailed post soon of all the goodies you purchased, including that Celine box bag and whatever is in that Chanel bag!!

  • Anonymous January 4, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    I was in Italy a few weeks ago and purchased quite a few luxury goods. The VAT in Italy is on average 14%, while some luxury goods stores have VAT at 16%. Some of the department stores in Italy have kiosks in the store where you can directly submit your VAT there – it takes 3 days for your refund to appear on your credit card. I wrote down some of the prices on luxury handbags in Italy and there is a significant price difference in purchasing from Europe now (because of the currency exchange rate). Also, if you purchase a Chanel purse or anything similar don't forget to pack it in your carry on. The customs agent at the airport tax refund counter may ask to see it. The VAT refund via credit card takes approximately 3 weeks and it may be through a third party like Global Premiere. I hope this helps!

  • Confusedkits January 4, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    My personal experience in Paris is like this – I normally buy my bags from gallery Lafayette or Printemps reason being you can claim the VAT refund immediately in the store itself and buy some more things at the same place �� But you need to have some patience because the queues are really long but must also mention that they are really efficient. They take a copy of your credit card for reference. So once you get your money back you just need to show the stamp receipts at the airport to the customs for their entry or else they take away the entire VAT amount from your card at a later date.

  • Ewa Macherowska January 5, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Nice post dear! 😉

  • Leah January 5, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Hi Jean! Thanks, as always, for your great tips. I have a random-ish question. Back when you were a financial consultant, did you disclose to your co-workers that you ran a blog? I'm always on the fence about sharing that part of my life at work. What are you thoughts on this? Thank you!

  • Jane Northey January 5, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Great post, very informative! I've always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower in person. On a side note, with so many sales going on, I am torn between a light pink and a black parka, and I can't decide which to get, so I asked myself, "What would Jean do?" and I searched your blog, turned up nothing for "parka". Haven't you done a post about parkas?

    Thank you,

  • Scarlett January 5, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I've always wondered about the illusive VAT refund!! Thanks for the info!

  • LorenQ1 January 5, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Wow, you're amazing Jean, great information, it sure helps for when I go on my dream visit to Paris and London, I also want to go to Italy, never been to Europe, sadly, but I hope I don't die before I can fulfill my dream! You're certainly an inspiration in all aspects!

  • Sharan Kaur January 5, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Awesome and helpful tips! Hope to travel to Europe this summer!


  • Audrey & Steph January 5, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these awesome tips! It's our dream to travel abroad and hopefully pick up some amazing deals like you did. These tips are amazing, especially since this process is a bit complicated.


  • Julia Mazzucato January 5, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    This is such a smart guide! Bookmarked. 🙂
    Julia・Little Miss Haute Couture

  • Vanessa Lee January 6, 2017 at 4:39 am

    This is such helpful information, thank you so much Jean. I've been a fan of your blog for the past 5 years, I just love it! I've actually been waiting eagerly for your post re. tips and pricing comparisons between the different luxury brands you compiled on your holiday trip because I am traveling to Paris today. I was wondering if you could please kindly share your notes about shopping at specific stores (Hermes, Chanel, Celine, LV, Dior, Longchamp, etc) you mentioned above as soon as possible because I only will be there for 5 days. This is just a request as I'm sure you live a very busy life and I will understand if you can't post in time for me to utilize your tips. Just an hopeful request from me to you 🙂 Thank you again!

  • Jan January 6, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for such an informative post!
    Would you consider sharing tips on guarding against pickpockets and gypsies?

  • Unknown January 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    How do you get your jeans to stay tucked into the Sam Edelman booties? I tapered by Rag and Bone legging jeans at the ankle so they are super tight – link below, but they won't stay tucked in.;=SE_froogle_SC_usa&cvosrc;;_campaign=SB_Google_USD&s;_kwcid=AL!3510!3!{creative}!{matchtype}!{placement}!{network}!!{keyword}&ef;_id=WG-GVQAAAaANvXDG:20170106191933:s

  • Nikoleta Ljuljduraj January 6, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    Great tips! You look so gorgeous!

    N, xoxo.

  • Anonymous January 6, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    Can't believe I'm the only one who finds it tacky to try to get out of paying taxes in different countries. If you can afford to travel the world and buy a $1k bag, then pay the tax.

  • Jean January 6, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Hi Leah – I disclosed it because I didn't want any professional conflicts of interests or independence issues. If that doesn't apply, I don't think you should feel pressured to share about your "outside of work" activities unless you feel comfortable doing so!

  • Jean January 6, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Jane – I actually don't really have a parka! I have two down coats, one from J.Crew which I blogged about last year and another lighter-weight one from Hollister. I personally prefer wool or more tailored coats, so unforutnately am not much help on this topic. I'd go with black though, just personally!

  • Anonymous January 6, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    You fail to see the point – shoppers getting back the VAT are savvy shoppers. They are contributing to the economies of foreign countries as they are spending money on these luxury items as well as lodging and food when they travel.

  • UrbnDaze January 6, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    We spent all our Euros, so we didn't encounter that problem. Since the exchange rate is so great now, if I had extra currency, I would probably have kept it and saved it for the next trip. 🙂

  • Jess Jones January 7, 2017 at 11:44 am

    Can you request VAT back from online retailers that charge it? If so, any instructions on how?

  • Jess Jones January 7, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Can you receive a VAT refund from online European retailers? If so, any recommendations or advice on steps?

  • Anonymous January 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    To Anonymous:
    Maybe you missed Econ 101, there is NOTHING "tacky" when the savvy consumer contributes to a foreign country's GDP. Just saying..

  • Anonymous January 7, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Look, I love Jean's blog. I use her affiliate links to buy things because I do think she should be compensated for the work she does with this blog.

    But you don't need to travel to Paris to buy luxury goods. They sell them in America too, and you can "contribute" to the US too. The point of this post is ways to get out of paying taxes on those goods (if you're wealthy enough to travel abroad…)

    I agree that regular clothing shouldn't have taxes, because clothing is a human necessity. But a Celine bag is not.

  • Jean January 7, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    The point of this post was to share tips for those who are traveling abroad and also happen to have designer items on their shopping list. The tax refund paragraph relates to an incentive that exists for shoppers, so I personally don't see anything wrong with taking advantage of it. There's clearly differing opinions on the topic, so it'd be great if we can just let it lie.

  • Jean January 7, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Hi Jess – I was told online purchases are excluded from the VAT refund benefit.

  • Jean January 7, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    Hmm .. are they long enough to stay tucked in? My jeans here go several inches below the top of the boot opening so there's no issues with keeping it tucked in. Also try wearing socks that are the same color as your bootie and tucking your denim hem into the socks.

  • Jean January 7, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Jan – Thankfully I didn't encounter any but I know friends and relatives who were pickpocketed on the subway in France, so definitely be especially careful while riding public transit or in crowded places! I feel cross-body bags are usually the best for guarding against theft since you can wear it in the front and cover the flap or opening with your hand, plus there's a strap keeping the bag attached to you in case someone tries to grab it and run.

  • Jean January 7, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Hi Vanessa, I haven't started on that post so unfortunately I don't think it'll be up during your trip. I hope you have an amazing visit and enjoy your time there!

  • Aitza Briauna January 10, 2017 at 11:34 am

    This is excellent. I'm planning my first abroad trip post graduation and I definitely have a bag fund in my savings. I'll be keeping this post book marked.

    Aitza |

  • Jessica Burrell January 28, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I guess I must be stupid (or very very bad at math!) because I still don't understand how bags are cheaper in Europe. It costs $1.05 to buy something for 1 Euro, so everything you buy in say, London is a bit more expensive than it would be if you bought it in the US.

    Does the savings only come into play with the VAT refund? So even if something is more expensive in Europe, it ends up being less expensive than the US, only because we get a partial VAT refund? I would have thought the only way to get a luxury bag cheap is if the dollar was stronger than the Euro (say, if 1 euro only cost 0.75 cents in USD) then adding in VAT you'd get a bag cheaper.

    I bought a Prada in 2008 in Italy and while I love it, I've always hated myself for spending so much money when I could have bought it in the US. I was naive and did not get a VAT refund but the exchange rate was so bad that my Prada was horribly expensive & now I never buy luxury goods overseas.

    What am I missing?

  • Tanya January 31, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing those tips! I have a trip coming up soon, will be sure to follow your advice:)

  • Tina Quy Nguyen February 4, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    The Euro is less than the Dollar now =)

  • Jean February 22, 2017 at 10:14 pm

    Hi Jessica – The main savings comes from the retail price, which is different in various geographical locations. A lot of European-based designers price items less in Europe, just like how Levi's is priced higher in Asia and that's why all the tourists buy it up when visiting the US…. The lower retail price, coupled with a weak Euro recently, plus the VAT refund contributes in total to the notable savings.

    PS – Tina, the Euro isn't less than the Dollar, but is almost equal!

  • Anonymous February 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Can you let us know the cost of the Chanel flats in Europe? Planning a trip soon. Thanks 🙂

  • nancy barraza April 15, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Jean
    Im off to london paris and madrid in a few hours and was goint over your blog
    i happen to only have a card from wells dargo and unfortunately the 3% does apply to foreign purchases
    I wanted to know if you recommend using cash instead and if so where do you recommend I exchange as i also saw u mentioned the exchage fees at the airport werent the best option
    I had planned to use the card to make a bigger purchase at LV in paris and pay for meals

  • nancy barraza April 15, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Hi Jean
    Im off to london paris and madrid in a few hours and was goint over your blog
    when i made travel plans with wells fargo they mentioned they would charge me 3% on all purchases in Europe
    I wanted to know if you recommend using cash instead
    and if so i saw u mentioned the exchage rates in the airport were insane

  • jh April 19, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Jean,

    I will be flying out to London in a few weeks and will be leaving in/out of Heathrow. This will be my first trip to Europe! I plan on taking the Eurostar to Paris as well.

    Would you recommend purchasing a luxury handbag in London or Paris?

    As well, any thoughts on forgoing the whole hassle of on getting the VAT refund and just purchasing the item at Heathrow? Would the price reflect the exclusion of the VAT tax?

    Thanks in advance!

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