The Fashionista’s Guide to Getting a Bargain Abroad

I’ve managed to save over $500 on designer purses and shoes in the past year. You may be wondering how. The answer is simple. I’ve waited to buy luxury goods until I visit their country of origin.

Buying European luxury goods in the country in which they’re manufactured is drastically cheaper than buying them in the USA. This is due to the fact that the cost of importing goods is added on to the price of goods in America. Another reason for this lower price when purchasing goods in the county of origin is that non-EU citizens are refunded a portion of their VAT (value-added tax).

Below I’ll be telling you how to: 1.) look up the price of luxury goods in their country of origin 2.) get your VAT refunded and 3.) identify which goods to buy in which countries.

How to Look Up the Price of an Item in Another Country

It is valuable to look up the price of goods in advance, unless you have unlimited funds on hand. There’s a simple way to do this that I utilize before traveling abroad.

Step 1: Visit the website of the designer you’re interested in

Christian Louboutin  |  Louis Vuitton  |  Gucci

CL Homepage.png

Step 2: Look for a few items you like and make note of the item name and price

Item of Interest.png

Step 3: Change the location to the country you will be visiting (doing this will also change the language)

CL Pick Country.png

CL Change Country.png

Step 4: Type the name of the item you like in the search bar

Search.png

Step 5: Note price in local currency (keep in mind, this includes VAT, which you will be refunded)

price-in-euro

Step 6: Convert local currency to USD via Google to see price difference

EUR to USD.PNG

In the example above purchasing the same shoes in France will result in a saving of almost $100, before your VAT refund.

How to Get Your VAT Refunded

VAT is an abbreviation for value-added tax. It’s similar to sales tax in the US and is applied to goods and services. The standard VAT must be at least 15% according to EU law. Because the rate is so high, you don’t want to leave for home without completing the refund process.

I have purchased luxury goods in France and England, so those are the only two countries’ processes that I’m familiar with. However, if you speak to the cashier when purchasing your luxury goods they will be able to explain the process to you thoroughly.

Step 1: When completing your purchase, ask the cashier for the form needed to get your VAT refund. The form varies from store to store. PABLO, Global Blue, and Clear Blue were common VAT refund companies when I visited in 2015 and 2016.

Step 2: When departing the EU via the airport search for the signs that direct you to the Tax Refund or VAT Refund area. Make sure not to pack your purchased goods as you may need to show them when requesting your VAT refund.

Step 3: If departing from CDG, scan your VAT refund form at the kiosk. If departing from LHR, show your purchased items to the clerk and give them your VAT refund paperwork.

Step 4: Check your card statement in approximately 6-8 weeks to make sure you receive your refund.

What Goods to Buy in What Countries

Now that you’ve learned how to research luxury good prices in other countries and get a VAT refund, the final step is learning where to go.

Although European produced goods are cheaper throughout the EU, they are even cheaper in the country where they’re manufactured. Below is a list of where to buy designer goods to pay the lowest price.

  • Zara – Spain
  • Louis Vuitton – France
  • Gucci – Italy
  • Chanel – France
  • Christian Louboutin – France
  • Prada – Italy
  • Burberry – England
  • Céline – France
  • Moschino – Italy
  • Salvatore Ferragamo – Italy

Please comment below if there’s any popular brands I missed. Happy travels and satisfactory shopping!

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