Tax-free procedures when travelling from Paris to Switzerland

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In this issue, we would like to introduce you to the ‘Tax-free procedures when travelling from Paris to Switzerland’.

As Switzerland is not a member of the EU, duty-free procedures must be completed before entering the country.

This is fine if you are travelling to Switzerland by plane, but if you are travelling to Switzerland by rail, the duty-free procedure becomes more difficult.

Let me quickly introduce you to what procedures you need to follow.

From January 2021, the amount of purchases eligible for tax exemption has changed from ‘more than 175€’ to ‘more than 100€‘.

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Tax-free procedures in France

Conditions for obtaining tax exemption.

  • Non-EU residents
  • 16 years of age or older
  • Staying in the country for less than 6 months
  • Minimum purchase amount of 100€ in one shop

Tax-free formalities

If you are returning from Charles de Gaulle airport, you can use the ‘PABLO’ (duty-free customs clearance system) for easy processing.

Only goods purchased in France can be processed duty-free using PABLO.

Goods purchased in other countries within the EU must receive a stamp of confirmation from a customs official.

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If returning via Switzerland

If you are returning from France via Switzerland, the duty-free procedure is a little more complicated.

This is particularly important if you enter Switzerland by rail and fly back to your own country.

If you are travelling from Paris to Switzerland and then again to another EU country, you can apply for tax exemption at your final point of departure.

For example, Paris to Switzerland to Germany or Paris to Switzerland to Italy.

When flying from Paris to Switzerland

If you are flying from Paris to Switzerland, both Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports have duty-free application desks or Pablo.

Travelling by train from Paris to Switzerland

If you are travelling by train from Paris to Switzerland, you will mainly use the TGV, which arrives and departs in Paris at Gare de l’Est or Gare de Lyon.

Below are the routes to the main train stations in Switzerland.

Gare de l’EstBern StationStrasbourg station → Basel station → Bern station
Lucerne stationStrasbourg station → Basel station → Lucerne station
Zurich StationStrasbourg station → Basel station → Zurich station
Gare de LyonBern StationDirect
Geneva StationDirect
Lausanne StationDirect (or via Geneva)
Lucerne stationBasel station → Lucerne station
Zurich StationDirect

Only typical routes are introduced here.

Receive confirmation stamps on board the TGV

If you are travelling to Switzerland by rail, you must complete duty-free formalities before entering Switzerland.

If a customs officer is on board the TGV train, he or she will stamp the duty-free documents with a confirmation stamp and drop the documents in a special post box at the arrival station.
You will now receive your detax.

However, it can be difficult to find customs officers on board, so it is advisable to check where they are when the conductor comes to check the tickets.

Please note that if you are unlucky enough to find a customs officer, or if no customs officer is on board, you may not be able to get duty free.

Tax-free formalities at Basel station.

There is a duty-free office at Basel station, which can be used by those who plan to use Basel station.

Depending on your destination, you can head via Basel station, but the SNCF booking website will show you the shortest train.

In this case, the longest possible time is only 25 minutes when changing trains, which may not be enough time to complete the tax-free procedure.

To ensure that you can complete the duty-free procedure, it is advisable to buy two separate tickets, one from Paris to Basel station and one from Basel station to your destination.

Translated with (free version)

Points to note when entering Switzerland

If you buy expensive goods while in France and bring them into Switzerland, you will be subject to taxation.

Caution should also be exercised if you are buying alcoholic products such as wine.

The maximum amount that can be brought into Switzerland tax-free is CHF 300.

(Think 300€).

Please note that it does not matter that the journey is within Europe.

Scope of duty-free entry into Switzerland.

Personal effects
Used personal effects such as toiletries, clothes, books, cameras, computers, etc. that are used during the trip and taken directly back to your country.
Amounts considered to be consumed per day.
No tax on any one type of tobacco up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250g of chopped tobacco.
Persons under 17 years of age are not allowed to bring cigarettes .
Alcoholic beverages
1 litre of alcohol above 15% and 2 litres of alcohol below 15%.
Persons under 17 years of age may not bring alcohol .
Items other than those listed above up to a total value of CHF 300.

For other detailed requirements, see the following website

sourceCustoms entry regulations

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If you travel from Paris to Switzerland by train, the duty-free procedure is very cumbersome.

In the worst case scenario, it should be assumed that the tax exemption procedure is not available.

Note that some French shops may offer cash refunds on the spot.

(although this will be lower than the amount refunded to your credit card).

Even in this case, tax exemption procedures are still required.

Please note that if you do not follow the tax exemption procedure and leave it untouched, your registered credit card will later be charged for the amount of the surcharge added to it.

Last but not least, the best way to get tax exemption is to ‘not return from Switzerland’.

It is strongly recommended, especially if you plan to buy luxury brands or other expensive items in France, to enter Switzerland first and then arrange an itinerary to return home from Paris.

Thank you again for reading to the end of this issue.

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