How to ship to France from Canada - Gifts, Personal Belongings, Temporary Imports, etc.

Sending Parcels to France


Is there a more fabulous place than France? Mais non! 

The winding roads, the hidden vineyards and a beautiful, expensive cottage designed so Marie Antoinette could see “how the other half live”. France is an incredible country with a certain, well, je ne sais quois! 

The sources of information on this page come directly from the Directorate-General of Customs and Indirect Taxes, the French Post, and number of other government sources.


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Disclaimer!

While we have made every effort to ensure that the information on this page is accurate, Customs laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult a licensed broker in France before shipping any goods.



Types of Shipments


Not all types of shipments are created equal. For example, shipping a television requires different paperwork and incurs different duties and taxes than shipping a package containing only documents. 

Below is a list of the most common types of shipments. 

  • Documents Only

  • Gifts

  • Personal Effects (Personal belongings)

  • Food, Chocolate, Candies

  • Samples

  • Advertising material

  • Repairs

  • Temporary imports (ie. trade shows, exhibits, etc)

  • Permanent or Sold Goods



Documents Only

Most documents can be shipped to France duty free.  There are restrictions on what can be shipped duty free. If you exceed these restrictions, then tax and duty becomes payable. Some restrictions are shown below in the table.


Document Type

Restriction

Business cards

Up to 15

Greetings cards and invitations

Must be personalised. If blank, an invoice is required.

Stationery

Must be personalised


For more information on restricted documents, click here

 

Sources:

https://www.ups.com/ga/CountryRegs?loc=en_US



Shipping Gifts


Gift shipments to France valued at less than €45 (about $67 CDN) are exempt from duties and taxes, provided the following conditions are met:

  • The word “GIFT” is clearly be indicated on the commercial invoice

  • A detailed description of each item is provided

  • The value is declared on the commercial invoice

  • Shipment is from an individual to individual


NOTE: Shipping a gift to an individual to their work address will cause an issue - it'll be seen as a commercial shipment and will not be exempt from duties and taxes. 


Sending multiple gifts in one parcel? 

You may send multiple gifts in one parcel, BUT the total value within the parcel must be €45 or less if you wish to avoid paying duty and taxes.


Sources:

https://www.ups.com/ga/CountryRegs?loc=en_US

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a14741-les-envois-non-commerciaux-adresses-de-particulier-a-particulier





Personal Effects

Customs officials in France are very strict about what are classed as personal effects and how they are imported. 

If your package is checked by officials and it doesn’t meet the requirements, you could be fined a 20% tax based on the estimated value of the goods plus the shipping costs.


Moving Temporarily

Students

Personal items that are exempt from customs duties include:

  • Clothing and accessories, such as shoes and hats

  • Educational materials, such as books, paper, computers

  • Used household furnishings that a student would typically have


Documents Required for French Customs:

  • Commercial Invoice clearly declaring that the items shipped are Personal Effects

  • Proof of enrolment

  • Two signed and dated copies of detailed and estimated inventory

  • If you are bringing goods (furnishings and belongings) of value from a non-EU country, and wish to import them duty-free, then complete the  Declaration of Duty Exemption/Entry of Personal Effects (Cerfa form no. 10070)

  • You have owned or used the items for at least six months before sending them to France. 


Be sure to:

✔️ Clearly indicate "Personal Effects" in the "General Description" or "Remarks" section on the commercial invoice

✔️ Include 3 copies of the Declaration of Duty Exemption/Entry of Personal Effects


Moving permanently 

 

If you are moving to France after being in a non-EU country for more than a year, you may bring your personal effects into the country tax and duty free. 

The only condition is that you have used your personal belongings for at least six months before becoming a resident of France.

NOTE: The exemption does not apply to alcohol, tobacco, and tobacco products.


Document checklist:

✔️ 3 copies of the Commercial Invoice  

✔️ The items must be at least six months old and can’t look brand new … otherwise taxes and duties will be payable.

✔️ Copy of valid passport with the photo page

✔️ Copy of Visa, Residence and Work Permit (requirement may vary according to nationality)

✔️ Complete Formulaire No. 10700: Declaration of Duty Exemption/Entry of Personal Effects 


If you need any information on shipping personal effects, you will need to contact a French Customs Broker. You can find a list here.


Sources:

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a10793-effets-et-objets-personnels

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a10793-effets-et-objets-personnels

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a14707-transferring-your-primary-residence-to-france 




Food, Chocolate, Candies

Food and food items like chocolate and candy can be shipped to France providing they follow the rules and standards established by the European Union. 


What you can send


You can send non-perishable foods providing:

  • They were bought in a store

  • They have a best-before-date on the label

  • The best-before-date is more than 6 months away

  • The label lists all the ingredients


Examples of non-perishable foods that can be sent include:

  • Canned goods

  • Herbs and spices providing they are in sealed containers

  • Chocolates and candy

  • Jams and other preserves 


Do not send


Perishable foods such as:

  • Homemade items or food removed from the manufacturer’s packaging

  • Foods with a shelf-life of less than 6 months, for e.g. fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish

  • Open packages of food

  • Foods without a list of ingredients on the package



Sources:

https://www.laposte.fr/envoyer/envoi-colis-alimentaire

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a14739-envois-de-marchandises-sanitaires-et-phytosanitaires-et-legislation-alimentaire

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a10913-restriction-de-circulation-ou-interdiction-de-certaines-marchandises





Samples

Commercial samples are those that can only be used for demonstration purposes. The aim is to encourage people to place orders of the samples, not sell them.  Samples can be imported into France duty free (you may still pay taxes) provided certain conditions are met. French Customs recommends that you ship samples via an ATA Carnet.


To send samples tax and duty free to France, the following conditions apply:

  • • the words “Commercial Sample” are clearly stated on the commercial invoice (see sample)

  • • they are imported by a business for the purpose of creating orders;

  • • the samples are similar to or look like the goods for sale; 

  • • the samples are marked in a way that stops them from being sold. For example, they may be lacerated, perforated, defaced, or marked with indelible ink;

  • special arrangements must be made with a local broker; 

  • samples must be re-exported within one year; and

  • a deposit will be held by the government as security


NOTE: French Customs will assign a commercial value for calculating duty and VAT when the package enters France. This means you may end up paying more or less tax than you were expecting.


Sources:

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a10907-a-l-importation-et-a-l-exportation-des-colis-les-regles-a-suivre-

https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000020782407&categorieLien=id





Advertising Material

Advertising material includes items that are handed out to promote products or services. 


Advertising items include:

  • Catalogues

  • Price lists

  • Advertising posters

  • Calendars

  • Photographs


Advertising material can enter France without incurring duties or taxes. In order to qualify, the following conditions must be met:

✔️ the words “Promotional Material - Not for Resale” is stated on the commercial invoice in the general description of goods

✔️ Include the correct Harmonized System (HS) code to avoid paying unnecessary duties and taxes


Sources:

https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/affichTexte.do?cidTexte=JORFTEXT000020782407&categorieLien=id





Repairs

If you are shipping an item to France to have repair work done, then the reason for shipping should be clearly noted on the commercial invoice.

Be sure to include the original Customs documentation with the shipment.

Customs duties and taxes may be payable on the items when they arrive in France for repair, as well as on the value of the repair when the goods arrive back in Canada. 


Items Under Warranty

Generally, products under warranty are exempt from duties and taxes provided you complete the list of steps below.  


Items No Longer Under Warranty

For items that aren’t under warranty or the warranty has expired, you would have to pay duties and taxes on the repair cost. Here’s a breakdown of how that works:

  • Duty is applied to the total cost of the repair; and 

  • 20% Goods and Service Tax (VAT) is applied to the total cost of the repair + shipping cost + Insurance Amount



Sending Product for Repair to France:


If you’re sending your package for repair to France, include the following information on the parcel:


  • The words “REPAIR & RETURN” are stated on the commercial invoice under General Description or Remarks

  • Serial/Product number must be indicated under the Detailed Description of Goods section on the commercial invoice

  • Copy of Repair Contract included with all your export documentation


NOTE: Goods that are no longer under warranty for repair may require duties and taxes to be paid when the shipment returns to Canada.



Returning Product After Repairs are Completed:


If your product has been repaired in Canada and is being returned back to France, ensure to do the following:


  • Write “REPAIR & RETURN” on the commercial invoice in the General Description or Remarks section

  • Indicate the value of the product INCLUDING the Cost of the Repair under the Detailed Description of Goods section

  • Include the original shipping documents or tracking number from when the item was first exported to France


NOTE: If you don’t have the original tracking information or documentation then the recipient may be charged duties and taxes on the shipment.


Be sure to write the necessary information on the commercial invoice according to the document checklist below. 


Document Checklist 

✔️  Commercial Invoice must clearly state under the General Description or Remarks section the following: “REPAIR & RETURN” and include the estimated time of return

✔️  Include repair contract with shipment 

✔️  Serial or product number and the cost of repairs should be indicated under the Detailed Description of Goods section


Sources:

http://douane.gouv.fr/articles/a12331-tva-regime-applicable-aux-biens-reimportes

https://www.corintax.com/news/vat-goods-returned-to-france-for-repair-or-processing/ 





Temporary Imports

Temporary importation of certain goods into France, without incurring duties or taxes, is allowed for a period of up to 12 months. Make sure to clearly indicate the return date on the commercial invoice.


Goods that are often part of a temporary import include: 


  • Items that will be used or displayed at a fair, exhibition or event

  • Scientific and professional equipment

  • Commercial samples

  • Tools and specialised equipment required for repairing, exploring, producing or manufacturing

  • Materials and goods to be used for entertainment or during a public exhibition such as a trade show booth

  • Equipment required to evaluate and test the operation of other goods and equipment





Permanent / Sold

Occasional Shipper

If you ship occasionally to France (ie. items you sold on Ebay), there isn’t too much you need to do. You will need to:

  • Include 3 copies of the Commercial Invoice with your shipment

  • Provide a detailed describe the goods on the Commercial Invoice (in order to avoid customs delays).

NOTE: No EORI number needed if you are shipping as a private individual


Regular Shipper

If you regularly ship sold goods into France, we recommend you consult with a licensed customs broker in France. There may be some requirement that you will need to comply with such as obtaining an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.


CE Markings

As France is part of the EU (European Union), certain products require CE (Conformité Européene) markings to be allowed entry into the country. This is generally for electronic equipment or Medical equipment. More information can be obtained here.


Sources:

https://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/france/market-facts-faits-sur-le-marche/7684.aspx?lang=eng

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a13068-economic-operator-registration-and-identification-eori-number

https://en.portal.santandertrade.com/international-shipments/france/customs-procedures



Prohibited & Restricted Imports

France’s list of restricted and prohibited items is extensive, so it's essential to check the official customs website before shipping or mailing anything to France. 

Here’s an abbreviated list of items that are restricted and prohibited from shipping to France.

Prohibited items

The short list of prohibited items includes:

  • Asbestos

  • Animal skins, ivory, furs

  • Counterfeits

  • Introduction of Plants & Seeds

  • Baby bottles made from Bisphenol A

  • Goods containing dangerous chemicals, such as mercury thermometers

  • Certain types of nuts, for example, brazil nuts in their shell

  • Self-defence sprays

 

Restricted Items

Some of the items that have import restrictions to France include:

  • Footwear

  • Meat and animal products

  • Honey, beeswax and other apiary products

  • Plant & Plant products

  • Live Animals

  • Slot machines and other gaming machines

  • Textiles

  • Cosmetics

  • Drugs (Prescription and Non-Prescription)


Sources:

http://ee.france.fr/en/information/customs-rules

http://www.douane.gouv.fr/articles/a10913-restriction-de-circulation-ou-interdiction-de-certaines-marchandises

http://www.upu.int/uploads/tx_sbdownloader/listCustomsProhibitedArticlesEn.pdf

https://crossborder.fedex.com/us/assets/prohibited-restricted/france/index.shtml


About the author: Dan Allard

About the author

Dan Allard is a marketing specialist, guitar player, and father living in The Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In his free time he’s usually reading business and marketing blogs, watching Shark Tank, or pretending he’s Iron Man because he has an Amazon Echo. He also enjoys finding great deals online and finding ways to reduce shipping costs.

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