Bringing in personal goods to France as a new expat

Posted on 12 Aug at 6 PM in France
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Bringing in personal goods to France as a new expat

Bringing in personal goods to France as a new expat

If you’re thinking of expatriating to France, you’ll need to familiarise yourself with everything from the move itself to healthcare requirements, accommodation and even the French customs and excise system as it applies to imports of personal goods.

Perhaps the first hard decision will be a tussle between bringing all your household goods along with you and the thought of spending the money you save by not shipping them on brand new replacements. If you can’t bear to be parted from your memories, a detailed inventory of everything along with its estimated value will be needed by the French Customs and Excise in your shipper’s port of arrival. To get a tax exemption on your personal goods, they’ll need to be for personal use only and not exceed specified value limits. Goods up to six months old can be duty-free if you’ve the sales receipt listing VAT paid, but those moving from non-EU member states will be liable for 20 per cent VAT on all such items.

If your scheduled move takes place after the UK leaves the EU, no-one has any idea as yet how that will affect personal item imports purchased before the UK’s date of leaving , but immediate bringing in pf the 20 per cent VAT rule seems unlikely, especially as sales invoices with dates and prices of purchase will be required. As regards personal papers, your passport, visa if applicable and three copies of a detailed inventory describing your goods and their estimated euro values – all translated into French – are necessary. For those who’ve inherited valuable heirlooms from relatives and parents over the years, you’ll need to present official paperwork confirming the date of death of the person from whom you inherited the items, as you’ll need to pay VAT and import duty if more than a year has passed since your inheritance.

It’s much the same with wedding gifts, except that you’ll have only one month to get them shipped to France and will have to present your marriage certificate and residence permit. Gold jewellery, if its weight exceeds 500 grammes, can be brought in duty free, but more will need to be declared and will be subject to import duty. Given that the above is just part of the hassle of importing personal goods into France, not to mention actually living in the country, perhaps now is the time to carefully consider your destination using the bureaucracy involved as a factor. Or, just maybe, staying exactly where you are right now.

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