Relocating to France
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All You Need to Know About Relocating Your Household Goods and Pets
Planning to relocate to France? Figuring everything out may feel overwhelming at first, but this relocation guide provides relevant information on how to move, ship, and store your household goods, what to pack, what the health requirements are, and even how to bring your pet along in your move to France.
If you are looking for information on how to relocate to France, you are in the right place. For starters, if you are planning to bring a pet with you, they will require proof of a current rabies vaccination, along with an ISO 11784/11785 compliant, 15-digit pet microchip (done before the vaccination), and possibly a health certificate depending on which country you are coming from.
Deciding whether or not it is worth moving all of your household goods is also something you will need to consider. If you are planning on transporting your belongings, make sure that you have a detailed inventory of all items and their value, for customs.
These are just a few of the things that are part of the relocation steps and process that an expat should keep in mind before embarking on their big move. This relocation guide will fill you in on what it takes to relocate to France and make sure that you have all the necessary information before operation relocation.
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Moving and Shipping Household Goods
If you are wondering how to move household items and belongings, one of the first things you will need to keep in mind is that French customs actually imposes restrictions on certain items including alcohol, tobacco, and animal products. This is useful information to consider even before you start gathering your things, so you know exactly what to pack when moving to France and what is better left at home. What you are allowed to bring in varies depending on the item itself, amount, and where you are coming from. For tax-free purposes, all products must be for personal use or to be given as presents, and not exceed value limits. Commercial goods or items for trading purposes, regardless of value, must be declared at customs.
How to Ship Household Items and Belongings
When deciding to move, you will have to determine which household items you will want to ship. It is best to start with a comprehensive list of the belongings you want to ship (which you will need for customs anyway). You will also want to make sure to indicate which items are fragile (art pieces, select furniture, glass, mirrors, etc.) and which are not for your movers. It is a good idea to have a sense of the volume and weight of your items. You will also have to decide which way you would like to ship your items: by air, sea, or land. Finally, make sure you have a clear pick-up date and expected delivery date for the movers.
Next, you will want to set clear expectations of the services you want from the movers. For example, if your items are arriving in France before you, you can arrange for your items to either be delivered and set-up for you in your new home or be dropped off at a storage warehouse for you to pick up later on arrival. Bear in mind that even in big French cities like Paris, many apartments do not have elevators, and staircases can be quite narrow, so the process of moving into your new place by yourself could be a challenge. It might be worth considering the first option, even if it means paying a little extra for the delivery and set up.
Insurance for the transportation of your household goods is something to consider as well, in the event of any damage to your belongings during the shipping process.
If you have already paid VAT (value-added tax) in the EU country where your items were purchased, you are entitled to import your new (less than six months) household goods duty-free. You will need the sales receipt to prove you paid VAT. Those moving from outside the EU, bringing over items owned for less than six months, will pay 20% VAT plus duties and will need sale invoices identifying price, and date and place of purchase.
Be prepared to gather plenty of paperwork to prove you are indeed making the move. Along with your passport and visa (if applicable), you will also need to put together a detailed inventory expressing the value of your goods, translated into French with the values stated in euros. Bring along three copies.
You will also need to pay a visit to your local French consulate to obtain a Certificate de Changement de Résidence (Change of Residence Certificate) outlining your change of residency to France.
Regardless if you have several shipments arriving at different times as part of your move, it must all be shown together as a part of your first inventory list. Everything must also arrive within a year of your transfer.
Do not Have the Receipt for Your Belongings?
Being able to prove that you have paid VAT is essential if you want to import your household goods duty-free. But in some cases, you may not have a receipt. For example, if you are bringing items that were given to you, you will need to clearly list them in your inventory and provide additional paperwork.
If you are relocating after tying the knot, do not head off on your honeymoon without shipping your wedding presents. To qualify as a duty-free import, you will need to send items within a month of your wedding day and provide your marriage certificate and French resident permit.
The same rules also apply to items you have inherited. As well as an inventory and your French residence permit, you will need official paperwork showing the date of death of the person you inherited your item(s) from and your relationship to the deceased. You have up to a year from the date of death to import these items without paying VAT and duty.
Importation Rules Within the EU
Travelers from EU member states enjoy generous duty-free allowances for tobacco and alcohol. Products must be for personal use, and allowances only apply to travelers aged 17 and over. Though the amount of cash is technically unlimited, if you plan on carrying over 10,000 EUR (11,204 USD) (including checks), you will need to declare it.
- 800 cigarettes;
- 400 cigarillos (max. 3g each);
- 200 cigars;
- 1kg smoking tobacco.
- 10 liters of spirits over 22%;
- 20 liters of alcoholic beverages less than 22%;
- 90 liters of wine (though no more than 60 liters of sparkling wine);
- 110 liters of beer.
You are also allowed to bring up to 10kg of powdered milk, children’s food, and special medical food for pets, as long as it does not need to be refrigerated before opening, and the original seal is intact (unless currently in use).
Importation Rules Outside of the EU
Different regulations and limits are enforced for passengers from countries and territories where VAT and other EU provisions do not apply. The following allowances are also for travelers ages 17 and up only.
- 200 cigarettes or;
- 100 cigarillos (max. 3g each) or;
- 50 cigars or;
- 250g smoking tobacco.
You cannot bring in all of these items — each represents 100% of the tobacco product allowance. You are, however, allowed to bring in a combination of different types of tobacco products so long as it does not exceed the overall limit.
- 1 liter of spirits over 22%; or
- 2 liters of dessert wine that’s less than 22% and sparkling wine;
- 2 liters of table wine;
- 16 liters of beer.
If you plan on bringing over 10,000 EUR (11,204 USD) or more in cash (including checks), you will need to declare it to customs. Any gold also needs to be declared, with the exception of up to 500g in personal jewelry.
Animal products from non-EU countries are prohibited except for limited amounts from Andorra, Croatia, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and limited quantities of particular products from other countries. For details visit the official European Union website. Authorized items include:
- up to 20kg of dried or fresh fish per person which must be prepared or processed;
- 250g of caviar;
- other animal products, such as honey, up to 2kg per person.
You are also allowed to bring up to 2 kg of powdered milk, children’s food. and special medical food for pets as long as it does not need to be refrigerated before opening, and the original seal is intact (unless currently in use).
The European Commission website has more details on all these items and the corresponding restrictions. You can also contact the customs information center at +33 (0) 172 40 78 50 or visit them online at douane.gouv.fr.
Restricted items when coming into France include: narcotics; certain plant and plant products; attack dogs (unless registered in a studbook recognized by the Ministry for Agriculture, the Food Processing Industry and Forestry); animal products that are not from the EU or countries specified, and other exceptions outlined above; endangered species of wild fauna and flora, products or objects with pornographic material of minors; and counterfeit items.
Home Goods Storage
For the things you are leaving behind in your country of origin, you will want to consider either long or short-term storage for your items, depending on when you plan on returning home for your belongings. When it comes to what to pack when moving to France, it is best to sell as much as you can before moving, especially heavier items which can ultimately end up costing you more in transportation fees. Things for your home you can buy new in France for a reasonable price or even secondhand once you are in the country. For everything else, keeping them in storage might be a good option.
Vaccinations and Health Requirements for France
You might be wondering “what vaccinations do I need for France?” Well, you will be pleased to know that there are no vaccination or health requirements for immigration to France. That being said, some shots are still recommended before traveling. So, if you want to err on the side of caution, you may want to start with the following recommended shots: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever (a certificate is required for travelers coming from South America or Africa), and rabies vaccinations.
The following vaccinations are also recommended by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia, and influenza. If you plan on visiting forested areas, a shot for tick-borne encephalitis is also recommended. It is essential to ensure that all your shots are up to date, and some vaccinations require more than one injection spread out over a few months, so plan ahead.
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Moving with Pets
When moving to France with pets, there are many things you have to consider. Can you bring pets into France? The answer is yes, so long as they meet all the requirements and do not fall in the prohibited animal category. First and foremost, the authorities must be able to identify the pet through an ISO 11784/11785 compliant, 15-digit pet microchip. If your pet’s microchip is not ISO compliant, you can bring your own scanner. A tattoo is also an acceptable form of identification so long as it was given before July 3, 2011, is clearly visible, and your pet received the rabies shot after the tattoo was applied.
Pet Relocation France
If you are taking your cat to France, or any other pet from within Europe, you will need a pet passport. This document will prove that your pet has had all necessary vaccinations to gain entry into France, indicate any other medical exams, and the overall general health of your pet. It should include proof of a rabies vaccination which should have been done after the pet was microchipped. If this is your pet’s first rabies vaccination after being microchipped and you are coming from a rabies-free or rabies-controlled country, a waiting period of 21 days before entering France is required. Pets may move to France with a current one-year vaccine, or even a three-year vaccine so long as the latter was administered within less than a year.
If you are moving to France from a country with a high risk of rabies, your pet must be vaccinated before being subjected to a 30-day wait period, and then after that, it must undergo a rabies titer test (FAVN). Following this, another three months is then required before your pet can officially enter France.
There is a limit to how many animals you may bring into the country, and this is currently capped at five. Should you have more than five pets, please review the French Ministry for Agriculture’s additional requirements (section B).
Adorable Imports: Young Pets
Puppies, kittens, and ferrets are not permitted to enter the country from within or outside of the EU until they reach twelve weeks of age, at which point they must be vaccinated. If your pet is not treated, they will not be allowed to enter France. For expats moving from high-risk rabies countries, your pets must be at least seven months before you can bring them to France.
Outside of the EU
For expats moving to France from outside the EU, it is essential to get a non-commercial EU health certificate from a licensed vet within ten days of entering the country. If you are not traveling with your pet and you are coming from a country where rabies is not present or controlled, a bilingual version of the commercial EU health certificate for France must be completed by a vet within 48 hours of entry. Expats from the US or Canada should also ensure that their pets have had the non-commercial EU health certificate issued by an accredited USDA and CFIA veterinarian, respectively, and endorsed by these agencies as well.
If your pet is flying into France from outside of the EU, it must arrive at one of the following international airports, which have approved BIPs:
- Paris (CGD)
- Toulouse (TLS)
- Reunion (RUN)
- Nice (NCE)
- Marseille (MRS)
- Lyon (LYS)
You can find more information regarding the conditions of transporting pets from outside of the EU to France on the European Commission website.
Guard Dogs in France
Taking your dog to France is perfectly okay, but if your canine companion is a guard dog, it is important to check that the breed is legal in France. The country currently bans the following dogs without pedigree certification: Staffordshire Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers, and Tosas. Mastiffs and Boerboels are prohibited.
To avoid difficulty upon arrival, it is advisable that owners of class 2 guard dogs bring pedigree papers, detention permit, behavioral evaluations, approval by the local town council, and insurance. Your guard dog must also always be muzzled and leashed in public, as well as comply with all other pet regulations outlined above. Guard dog owners entering France with their pet must be over 18 years of age.
Birds coming to France from EU countries need a health certificate.
Birds coming from rabies-controlled countries require a health certificate as well. They must also be quarantined for a minimum of 30 days before travel and have a vaccination against the H5 avian influenza virus or negative H5N1 antigen titration test.
If a pet bird is accompanied by its owner and coming from Andorra, Croatia, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or Vatican City State, they will not be subject to the health requirements outlined above.
EU and non-EU domestic rabbits, reptiles, rodents, amphibians, ornamental tropical fish, and invertebrates (except for crustaceans and bees) will require a veterinary certificate of good health issued a few days before departure. Mammals will require parasite treatment before entering France.
Costs for Moving your Pet to France
Prices will vary depending on the type of animal, its weight, and airline. Air France, for example, charges 80 EUR (90 USD) to have your pet in the hold, and 40 EUR (45 USD) for in the cabin. A travel container for your pet will also need to be purchased, for an additional fee. It is best to consult your airline before your departure for exact cost details.
Caring for Your Pet in France
You can find a veterinary practice in all major towns and cities in France, and they are easily recognizable by their signs with a blue cross. Your local vet may not be able to communicate the medical problems of your pet in English as most vets would have been trained in France, so it is worth asking a French acquaintance to accompany you to appointments to translate.
There are some health risks to watch out for in France. Pet owners moving to France should be particularly aware of the following illnesses:
- leishmaniasis, common in the south of France
- heartworm, prevalent also in the south and can affect both cats and dogs
- ehrlichiosis, a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks
- babesiosis, also caused by ticks
If your pet does need a visit to the vet, you will be given a carnet de santé et de vaccination (health and vaccination booklet), which will form part of your pet’s passport, detailing the various treatments and injections your pet has received. It is crucial that this is kept updated if you are planning on taking your pet in and out of the country. Animal shelters are scattered all over the world, including France. But in France, veterinary clinics can also be a good point for rehoming and if you are looking for a new pet.