Removals to France After Brexit: What You Need to Know About VAT & Customs Duties


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Removals to France After Brexit: What You Need to Know About VAT & Customs Duties

Since Brexit, the rules for importing or exporting personal items and new purchases between the UK and France have changed. With the UK now a non-EU country, VAT and customs duties may now be due when importing both new and second-hand items into France. Thankfully, if you’re looking to move permanently to France, there is a system in place to avoid paying additional VAT and customs duties—here’s what you need to know.

Moving to France: importing furniture and personal items to France

If you own a French property, chances are that you will want to move furniture, household items, and personal belongings between the UK and France. Since Brexit, it’s important to remember that removals from the UK to any EU country, including France, are subject to the import laws of that country. Therefore any items being taken to your French home will need to be cleared by French customs. In order for this to take place, information and documents will need to be supplied to the French customs authorities, and any applicable VAT or customs duties will need to be paid.

Do I need to pay taxes and customs duties on personal belongings and furniture when moving to France?

If you are changing your main residence from the UK to France (i.e. you are moving to France to work, retire, or for personal reasons), then you will typically be able to bring your personal belongings with you without having to pay any additional VAT or customs duties. This applies to furniture, household items, electronics, personal effects, and even your car (special documentation is needed importing a car, so see our guide to Importing a UK Vehicle and Registering it in France After Brexit).

However, there are several criteria that you will need to meet:

  • You will need to prove that you have been resident in the UK for a minimum of 12 months prior to moving to France.
  • You will need to provide proof of residency in France.
  • You must have owned the items in question for more than six months (new items will be subject to VAT and/or customs duties)
  • You will need to supply an itemised and valued inventory detailing all items.
  • The items must be moved within one year of moving to France (items transferred at a later date will not be covered by the VAT/customs waiver).
  • You must agree not to sell any of the items involved for at least one year after bringing them to France.

Note that certain items are prohibited (such as weapons and animal skins or products) or have restrictions (such as alcohol and tobacco) – read more about this in our guide to Post-Brexit Customs Restrictions & Allowances Between France and the UK.

What about second-home owners resident in the UK?

Different rules apply if you are a UK resident who owns a second home in France and wishes to bring furniture, tools, or goods purchased in the UK to your French property. For this, refer to our article French Customs/VAT When Bringing Items to Your Second Home.

What documents do I need to supply when moving furniture and personal belongings to France?

If you are moving your personal belongings from the UK to France, you will need to provide substantial documentation detailing your residency status and all of the items that you are moving to France. It is absolutely essential that this documentation is compiled prior to travelling – do not expect to arrive in France and sort this out at the border! – and that it is filled out in the correct format with all required documents present.

The importance of this can’t be overstressed, and for this reason, it is highly recommended that you enlist the help of a reputable international removals company. The extra costs involved will likely be well spent in order to ensure that you are successfully able to import your belongings to France, as well as avoid tax and customs duties. Remember that if you don’t have the correct documents, you simply will not be allowed to enter France with your items.

Here are the minimum requirements that you will need to clear French customs:

  • Proof that you lived in the UK for 12 months prior to moving to France (for example, a council tax bill or similar).
  • Proof of residence in France (for example, a rental agreement or utility bill from your French property).
  • A completed and dated/signed inventory detailing all items being transferred to France and their second-hand estimated value – 3 copies must be provided.
  • A signed “certificat de non cession” (French customs form).

Read the official rules here.

Do you have a specific enquiry regarding French customs/VAT?

The Brexit customs guide here (scroll down for the English version) has the answers to many questions. For more specific questions and advice, you can call French customs on 0800 94 40 40 or +33 1 72 40 78 50 from overseas.

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  •  Martine Nouet
    2023-11-03 12:39:32
    Martine Nouet
    I have been living in Scotland for 16 years. I am selling my house as I want to go back and live in France (I am French). I am looking for a house to rent in France at the moment. I know I can move personal belongings without paying taxes. But I also have a collection of 100 bottles of whisky. How can I move them without paying taxes ? thanks


  • megan ormond
    2023-05-12 02:31:51
    megan ormond
    I have new sofas (less than 6 months old) that I want to move to France for our second home (from the UK). I have been a resident in the UK for over 10 years and I do not intend to sell/transfer the items within one year. I know that I need to pay customs/VAT on these sofas, but I can't find the form to fill out for this. And my mover was telling me that I needed to get John Lewis (the furniture company) to give me an Export invoice that has my French address on it. But John Lewis is saying that they can't do this. I just want to make sure that I do the right thing to bring the items in legally and paying any fees that I need to pay. many thanks for your help


    • Zoë Smith
      2023-05-12 21:03:49
      Zoë Smith
      Hi Megan, Your mover really would be the best person to advise you on this, as they should be able to access the relevant forms and paperwork for you. Otherwise this will be processed by the French customs on arrival in France. While an export invoice would be ideal, it may not be possible when selling to an individual, in which case, I imagine a regular invoice would suffice. The important thing is that you have proof of purchase and proof of the item's value. Best regards, Zoe