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Returns on excise duties: France

By Gertjan Breij, Managing Director DKV EURO SERVICE Benelux B.V. in cooperation with Kim Binnendijk, Refund Specialist, DKV EURO SERVICE Benelux B.V.

Excise duties are consumer taxes imposed in addition to VAT on petrol, diesel fuel and LPG. All EU-registered transport firms qualify for refunding of their fuel excise duties paid in Belgium, Hungary, France, Italy, Slovenia and Spain. This article will focus on the situation in France, where reclaiming of diesel duties has been possible since January 2000. This involves serious money indeed. In 2017, 11.42 eurocents per litre diesel may be reclaimed for trucks over 7.5 tonnes. In case of buses containing more than 8 seats the amount is 15.42 eurocent per litre diesel. Interesting amounts, as reclaimable duties on a full diesel tank will soon exceed 100 euros.

Excise duties paid in France are refunded through French customs, which is not the simplest of procedures. Communication for instance is in French, while a range of documentary evidence is required, varying from invoice copies and vehicle licence documents to mileage and bank statements. Once refund forms have been completed and sent, it may take just one small omission on your part for the authorities to reject the application. This is the main reason for many companies to choose for an intermediary to handle their French duty refunding applications. In this case, please note that you can authorize no more than one party to arrange this procedure on your behalf. We always recommend our customers to choose a proven and trusted party for refunding of their excise duties (and VAT as well, if applicable). This is especially because refunding procedures are not only complicated, but lengthy as well. In France it takes between 6 to 12 months to fully handle a refund application, while a rejection on grounds of lacking vehicle licence documents for instance may extend procedures unnecessarily. This may have a negative impact on your cash flow, certainly when large amounts are involved.

The French refunding procedure in brief

In France, refund applications must have been submitted not later than 2 years after transaction date, and before 31 December. So in theory you can reclaim over periods until 3 years. If your company frequently fuels in France, your best option is to reclaim duties over 6-month periods (more frequently is not possible). Another thing worth knowing is that refunding is excluded if fuel receipts cannot be traced back to a specific vehicle licence.

The following documentary evidence is required for refunding of excise duties:

  • Confirmation of the period to be reclaimed
  • Invoice copies (including address and SIREN number of the fuel station)
  • Copies of the vehicle licencing documents
  • Copies of vehicle rental / lease contracts, if applicable
  • Kilometre / mileage tables
  • An original bank reference letter / bank statement

A power of attorney in the French language is also required if you opt for an intermediary to handle refund applications on your behalf. If you should work with various fuel card providers, you will moreover need a special statement, a so-called ‘Avis de Stock’ for each provider.

As soon as all your documents are complete, your intermediary will generally send you an invoice for the service fee, after which your refund application will be sent following receipt of payment of this invoice. Your application will be verified by French customs, after which your excise duty refunds will be transmitted to your own bank account after 6 – 12 months on average. This means that actual refunds are never transmitted via your intermediary.

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