VAT reclaim on UK supplies?


We, or should I more correctly say my wife, are currently planning renovation of our 30 year old house in the Haute Savoie. Living just south of Geneva and its associated inflated prices, possessing more Sterling than Euro and, to be honest, having more familiarity with British suppliers there is a strong temptation to buy in the UK and book a large truck to ship everything over. Indeed, we were looking at a kitchen in B&Q Colchester last week - the branch had already shipped three kitchens in our preferred range to France this year alone!

Given that the potential shopping list includes a kitchen, bi-fold / concertina doors, steam room, sauna, soft tub is there any way we can avoid the 20% UK VAT rate - and secure the French renovation rate of 5.5% by importing? Failing that any knowledge of bonne affaires would be most appreciated!

All the best,


yes and thanks Finn for explanation about Amazon - I used the term ‘fiddling’ loosely, I hadn’t looked too closely into the Amazon situation, I just knew their prices were altered and that I get charged 19.6% VAT but the overall price stays the same (as if I was buying in the UK) so it appears they increase their net price by the 0.333% resulting in the price to me staying the same as if I was paying 20% VAT (in fact it is only when I’ve checked the invoices that I’ve seen they have charged 19.6% and increased the net price).

VAT on Sales by for EU customers outside the UK says: is required by law to collect VAT on orders for goods (including e-Books) dispatched to most countries within the EU. For customers with a delivery address within the EU, VAT is charged in accordance with the local legislation in each country. VAT charges for your order will be itemised on the last page of your order, in the e-mail confirmation of your order and on the invoice dispatched with your order.

Note: under EU VAT legislation certain Books items (such as audio books) are not eligible for reduced-rate VAT and in those cases the standard VAT rate will apply.

@ Mark - I share your point on parity, we’re hoping to do a renovation soon and will probably be ordering our kitchen from the UK where the prices are ‘thousands’ cheaper for better quality than we’ve seen in France. Our last kitchen in France was hand-built by a local craftsman as we simply couldn’t find anything else locally for a decent quality and reasonable price. We’re prepared to take the risk of using a UK kitchen company then fitting in France to make sure we get what we want as the next house will hopefully be the ‘last’ house.

Hi Finn,

Many thanks for the lengthy mail! I’ll review fully later - but to be clear the Sterling : Euro issue is about purchasing power parity. i.e. as a general rule similar items can often be bought more cheaply in the UK given the weakness of Sterling in recent years rather than exchange rate costs.

The opportunity looks to be with using a French company to buy materials as needed from the UK and understanding what restrictions might exist.

All the best


Hi Mark

I thought you would have to pay the local rate as we’re in Europe so hence 20% unless the supplier has an operation local to you in France (e.g. Amazon which has Amazon EU and charges you 19.6% rather than 20% even if you order from the UK site - although Amazon fiddles the prices to make you pay the same price as the UK overall price inclusive of 20% which is usually a lot cheaper than buying on even with its 19.6%).

Do you renovate via a company? If so, could you not offset the VAT that way?