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International Relocation for Expats in France

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: September 2014

Moving to another country can be burdensome, especially if you are managing the whole process on your own. You will quickly find yourself with a near-endless to do list: apply for a visa, obtain a work permit, look for work, find accommodation, move belongings to your new home... To make things go as smoothly as possible, it is essential to be well organised. Our Expat Briefing articles provide helpful guidelines in this respect. Unless you are undergoing an intra-company transfer, you could consider consulting a specialised relocation company to help ease the moving process.


Relocation companies

In recent years, relocation companies have become very popular with expats moving to international destinations. Most of these companies do a lot more than merely arrange the removal of your belongings. They can also make visa applications and find accommodation, utility companies and schools, help to negotiate French bureaucracy, advise how best to settle into your new environment and many other things. Another advantage of using a relocation company is that it will ensure that your relocation meets all rules and regulations in the destination country.

You can look for a good relocation company either in your home country or for one in France. It is best to take some time to shop around, getting quotes from different relocation companies, as prices may vary significantly, partly depending on which services are included. It is also worth checking whether the company is registered with the Federation of International Furniture Removers, FIDI.

Some companies that offer relocation services to France are:

There is a further list of relocation companies that operate in France on the European Relocation Association (EURA) website. For more information on French relocation companies, visit the SNPRM (French Association of Relocation and Removal Professionals) site.


Moving your belongings

If you are not planning to use a relocation company, you should consider how best to move your belongings to France. Most airlines will only allow one free piece of luggage when travelling into the country. Sending items via post or express delivery services such as DHL or UPS is only feasible for small items, as heavy parcels (up to 30kg is permitted) tend to have high price tags. Hence, neither of these methods is worthwhile, except perhaps for a handful of items you cannot do without.

Instead, if you are not travelling far, moving to France by car or may be a comfortable and budget-friendly option. Hiring a van is also likely to be economical. With more than a vanful of belongings, it is usually better to choose one of the specialist removal companies, who can also move your pets and vehicles. It is highly advisable to take out independent insurance, and a good idea to make an inventory. Most of the above-mentioned relocation companies offer removal services. Other specialist removal companies include:

Be aware that the further you are moving, the more likely there is to be a delay in your possessions arriving at their destination. Note that if you are an EU citizen moving to France, you are free to take unlimited personal and household items without paying any import taxes or duties. Otherwise, what you are permitted to move may be restricted or subject to duties and taxes. For information on how to move to France with your family and pets, see Relocation with Families and Pets.


Importing your vehicle

EU citizens can bring a car or motorcycle into France without having to pay VAT (Taxe sur la valeur ajoutée or TVA in French), provided that it is a used vehicle they have owned for at least 6 months and that they can prove they have already paid VAT on it in their home country. EU citizens importing a new vehicle must pay VAT at the standard rate of 20%.

All non-EU citizens are liable for VAT on vehicle imports and may also have to pay 6% import duty. If you can prove that you are intending to take up residence in France and have not lived in the country for 12 months, you may be exempted from import duty. To ensure that the vehicle you are importing complies with French technical standards, you may need to obtain a Certificate of Conformity from the manufacturer.

Imported cars must also undergo technical inspection, which may result in headlights, brakes, emissions etc. undergoing modification. If you are moving to France on a permanent basis, you will need to register your vehicle and get French licence plates for it. All cars over four years old must undergo a check to ensure they are roadworthy before they can be registered. Once the test is completed, you will be given a certificate of conformity. For more information on driving in France, see Driving and Public Transport.


Arriving in France

After successfully relocating to France, you will have to take care of several administrative matters, such as opening a bank account, registering with a doctor and in some départements, if you are an EU citizen, registering yourself in your town of residence at your local town hall. To find out more, have a look at other sections of the Expat Briefing site and consult the relevant Immigration Authority for your state.



Moving to France

If you are considering moving to France or are soon to depart, you can find helpful information and advice in the Expat Briefing dedicated French section including; details of immigration and visas, French forums, French event listings and service providers in France.


Living in France

From your safety to shoppingliving in France can yield great benefits as well as occasional drawbacks.  Find your feet and stay abreast of the latest developments affecting expats in France with relevant news and up-to-date information.


Working in France

Working in France can be rewarding as well as stressful, if you don't plan ahead and fulfill any legal requirements. Find out about visas and passports, owning and operating a company in France, and general French culture of the labour market.

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