Several readers have asked about customs procedures for bringing furniture and other items from the UK to a French second home.
Before Brexit there were no customs checks on private cars or vans coming to the continent, but that has now changed.
Based on readers’ reports so far, there is theory, then practice – some visitors going through minimal or no checks and others not.
Here are the official rules as they were clarified to us by the officials of France Customs (customs) service. In particular if you bring a conspicuous load of items in France beyond the normal baggage, we advise you to take this into account and, if possible, to seek advice on your specific situation from the Customs.
Information can be obtained, in French or in English, in the United Kingdom on 0033 (0) 1 72 40 78 50 or in France on 08 00 94 40 40.
These rules relate to the transport of objects from the United Kingdom, for example from your primary residence to a French second residence; other rules apply when moving to France as part of a change of domicile.
When importing items into France from the UK, French VAT at the appropriate level and possibly customs duties may be payable.
French VAT is 20% on most items other than, for example, 5.5% on food and books.
Customs duties are only payable on items which cannot be proven to have been manufactured wholly or primarily in the UK or the EU.
Duties are billed at varying amounts per item category but are zero on furniture. If so, documentation or a statement on the item stating that it was ‘made in England’ should be sufficient, an official said. You can find sample rates on the government website.
You must provide French customs officers upon your arrival in France:
- A document proving that you are the owner or tenant of your French secondary residence, for example a certificate of ownership from a notary, title deeds or a certificate of owner.
- A written document in triplicate with your full name and UK address, followed by a list of items brought in, with quantities, weight and estimated value. Bring receipts if you have them, or make estimates, which can be discussed with the customs officer.
For example, write: 1 sofa [sofa], 100kg, value 700 €; 1 box of clothes
When you complete the inventory, group the related items, such as dishes (kitchenware), furniture (furniture) with an estimated value for each group.
If some items are only brought in temporarily – for example DIY or gardening equipment that you will bring back to the UK, such as a lawn mower – they should also be itemized on a cerfa 15678 form.
It can also be written by article category. Tax is not payable on these.
For VAT and any customs duties on items that you carry with you when traveling, traveler franchisees – personal allowances – can be taken into account.
This is, for VAT, per adult (for their own items), 430 € if you arrive by plane or boat or 300 € if you come by train or car / van, as well as 150 € per child. less than 15 years old. A senior customs official said this was originally designed for returning French tourists who could bring back gifts and souvenirs. Officials will assess whether or not they can apply in your case.
For customs duties, the franchise traveler is € 1,200.
The official explained the calculation as follows:
For VAT, per person, you look at the amount of the value of the goods. There is no VAT if the total value is less than 300 € and the goods are transported by road. If the amount exceeds this amount, VAT is due in full on items whose total exceeds € 300.
For example, if an adult brings two cameras worth € 250 each, VAT is fully payable on the second camera, the manager said.
The rights allowance works the same way and is evenly distributed per person over their share of the items, the official said, adding that a couple’s furniture would be considered jointly owned, that is. half each.
For example if a person has 1000 € of furniture at 0%, and a piano of 500 € at 4%, then 4% x500 € = (20 €) will be payable on the piano. However, nothing would be payable if the furniture was only worth € 500.
For a lot comprising € 1,000 of furniture at 0%, a piano at € 2,000 at 4%, a hand-woven carpet at 3% and a box of clothes at € 250 at 12% then the duties are due in full on everything except the furniture.
There is more information on article categories and rights online here.
You don’t have to calculate the taxes yourself. In summary, if you bring objects to furnish a second home, you must make an inventory and go to customs with these documents.
Customs checks and taxes between UK and EU: readers’ experiences so far