Shipping & Mail Forwarding to France

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Clearance Process
French Customs has 292 offices throughout the country. A company can choose either clearance upon entry or exit from French territory (port, airport or office at an inland frontier), or clearance at destination (at the nearest customs office from the company's site).

Any company is free to complete its customs formalities itself or to assign them to a professional operator approved by French Customs Authorities (customs broker). French Customs uses computerized clearance methods, which have been adopted by many countries throughout the world. It offers freedom of choice for clearance methods.

Customs clearance in France can be made through several methods:

  • The customs computer network (SOFI),
  • The company's own computer system, networked with SOFI
  • Manual procedure (use of customs entries - S.A.D.).
Computerized clearance considerably speeds up clearance formalities and makes their administration remarkably simple. A wide range of customs methods designed to meet specific customer requirements are put in place such as Express delivery procedures for express parcels (a new high-speed procedure applicable to express delivery companies) or one of the customized procedures granted to all import or export companies for their current trade transactions.

There are three primary entry types for importing into France:

  1. Standard clearance procedure
  2. Simplified clearance procedure
  3. Simplified declaration procedure
The first two procedures apply to all shipments regardless of value; the third one applies to shipments of commercial samples below EUR 45 and/or to negligible value shipments below EUR 22 and provides Duty and Tax relief.

Tobacco, drugs, medicines, weapons and their parts, strategic materials and their parts, CITES commodities, alcohol and all other licensable commodities cannot be processed under the simplified declaration procedure.

Import transactions exceeding - 38,200 EURO in value must be conducted through an approved banking intermediary. When a shipment reaches France, FedEx will either advise the importer's broker or file entry release documents on behalf of the importer of record (owner, purchaser or consignee) with French Customs at the point of entry. Imported goods are not legally entered until after the shipment has been released by French Customs. French Customs may pull any shipment at any time for review or investigation, which could result in clearance/delivery delays. NOTE: In addition to the Customs Department, importers should contact other agencies when questions regarding particular commodities arise. For example, questions about textile products should be forwarded to the Service des Titres du Commerce Exterieur (SETICE) for import license requirements.

The Importer of Record or a licensed Customs Broker may account for goods. According to the Importer of Record's profile FedEx GTS FRANCE will either provide notification upon arrival of shipments to the Importer's designated Customs Broker or clear and advance payment of any duties and taxes levied for the shipments on behalf of the importer.

Note: A Customs (entry and payment processing) account can be established at any customs office and by the importer himself for his shipments or by FedEx for all its customers. Currently only FedEx's account is being used. An air waybill may be used for qualifying standard clearance procedure merchandise (samples and low value shipments) arriving by air, but all other merchandise must be presented with a commercial invoice that contains all the data requirements of French Customs Department.

Goods may be transported in-bond to another point of entry for clearance by re-manifesting (infrequent) to that location, by using house air waybills or by using T docs (EU transit system). A bonded carrier is required to transport the shipment from the point of arrival to point of clearance. Arrangements for transporting the merchandise to an interior point in-bond may be made by the consignee, by the customs broker or by any other person having sufficient interest in the goods for that purpose.

If it is desired to postpone the release of the goods, they may be placed in FedEx's cage in a bonded warehouse until the documentation has been obtained for appropriate release. If the goods are not released from Customs within 5 days, they are reported to the Customs Office warehouse and abandoned or sent back to the origin at shipper's expense.

FedEx Clearance Ports

FedEx operates a state of the art sorting facility located at the Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). This is the main sorting and clearance facility for most of the European Community (EC).

Document Requirements
Bills of Lading - No special regulations Consular Invoices - None

Certificates of Origin - Certificates of Origin are required for the importation of any Textile products valued at over 1000 Euros. Exceptions from this requirement include marked and mutilated samples; luggage made up of textile materials, canvas bags, and bona- fida gifts, personal effects. A Certificate of Origin is recommended to be provided for every commodity subject to import licensing and /or quota restrictions from some origin countries and is required for all textile products imported into France that originate in Hong Kong, Macao, or Singapore regardless of the value.

Certificate of Origin Form A - A Certificate of Origin Form A may be required for goods under formal entry claiming preferential duty or exemption under the various agreements of Generalized System of Preferences. It should be produced at the time of entry and must be in the possession of the Importer at the time of entry. Origin of the goods must be detailed on the commercial invoice.

EUR 1 form Import - An EUR 1 form may be required for goods under formal entry claiming preferential duty or exemption under various bilateral agreements by the European Union countries and some specific countries or groups of countries. It should be produced at the time of entry and must be in possession of the Importer at the time of entry. Origin of the goods must be detailed on the commercial invoice.

Quotas - Quotas have been assigned by the European Union to specific countries for specific products, which allow for the controlled importation of specific products.

Commercial Invoices - Invoices are required for all dutiable shipments relating to commercial transactions between companies and companies; companies and individuals, regardless of the value. Commercial invoices should show freight, insurance and similar charges as separate items when applicable, regardless of the INCOTERM used on the transaction. It must be in French for export shipments or accompanied by a translation. It can be in any official language for import shipments and, if required by customs, must be accompanied by a translation. A party who is knowledgeable of the transaction, must furnish translation, if requested.

Specific invoice details are required for a number of commodities including the following:

  • textiles - the fabric breakdown, whether knit or woven and, for clothing articles, the gender;
  • marked/mutilated samples - the words "mutilated samples" or " marked samples, not for resale" as applicable;
  • software on CD's and floppy disks - The value of software must be shown separately from software support.
Dangerous Goods Certification - Some goods will, in addition to the standard documentation noted above, require DG certification
i.e. Perfumes, Liquor, Chemicals, etc.

Air Waybill - An air waybill or carriers certificate (naming the consignee for customs purposes) is required as evidence of the consignee's right to make entry.]

Declaration of Antiquity - A declaration must be shown on the invoice for goods over 100 years old. The statement must include the words " circa date" followed by the year of manufacture whether known or estimated.

Import permits - Permits are required from Service des Titres du Commerce Exterieur (SETICE) for the following:

  • Milk and dairy products
  • Cheese
  • Fish
  • Wheat, barley and other grains
  • Some vegetables
  • Steel
  • Textiles and clothing
  • Livestock, animals and their parts
  • Firearms, ammunitions and explosives
  • Radioactive materials and nuclear reactors
  • Cinematographic film

Customs Valuation
All goods categorized, as non-document commercial goods shipped to France must have a proper value declared and proper description provided which should convey the shipper's intent related to the goods as well as any special processing requirements that exist for the goods shipped. Everything has a value, whether or not a transaction took place. Failure to properly document value of any goods will result in delays and or additional fees as deemed necessary in addition to warehouse fees.

Import Duties
All merchandise coming into France must clear Customs and is subject to customs duty assessment unless the goods are duty or tax exempt by law. Customs duties are, generally, an ad valorem rate (a percentage), which is applied to the transaction value (EUR Euro) of the imported goods based on the cost of the goods, insurance, and freight charges. Some articles, however, are dutiable at a specific rate of duty (so much per piece, liter, kilo etc.) and others at a compound rate (combination of both ad valorem and specific rates). The dutiable value of merchandise is determined by the EU Customs code (TARIC). Several appraisal methods are used to arrive at this value. Generally, the transaction value of the merchandise serves as a basis of appraisal. Transaction value is the price the buyer actually pays the seller for the goods sold and being imported. The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of European Union (2002 Edition), issued by European Community, prescribes the rates of duty and classification of merchandise by the type of product; i.e. animal and vegetable products, textile fibers and textile products. The tariff schedule provides several rates of duty for each item.

France, like most member states of the European Community, bases its Harmonized Tariff Schedule (Nomenclature Douaniere or SH) on the TARIC (Integrated Tariff of the European Community) which is issued by the Commission and the Member States for the purpose of applying Community measures relating to import and exports, and-when necessary- to trade between member states. The TARIC also serves as a basis for the working tariffs and tariff file of France and other Member States.

Shipments of value below 22 EURO (USD 22 circa) may be subject to duty-free import entry.

Import duty rates are divided into two classifications: Most Favored Nation (MFN) and General. Import duties are calculated on ad valorem basis, i.e. expressed as a percentage of the value of the imported goods.

Most imports enter under MFN Rates (Most Favored Nation) rates. Relative high tariffs apply to textile, automobile, consumer electronics, cereal, meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, and tobacco.

Excise duty rates may also be applicable on certain items such as alcohol and tobacco. For further information, please contact the French Customs.

Under strict enforcement of unfair trade laws, Customs will assess antidumping duties or countervailing duties. Antidumping duties are assessed on imported merchandise sold in France (EU) at less than the normal price of goods in the manufacturer's home market (also called fair market value).

Countervailing duties are assessed to counter the effects of subsidies provided by a foreign government for merchandise exported to France resulting in artificially low prices that are detrimental to French and other European Union member states industries.

Excise Duties
Excise duties are assessed against certain commodities, which are normally identified as "luxury" goods. The excise tax is normally assessed against tobacco products, perfumes and alcohol products but can also be assessed against other goods as deemed by French regulations.

Additional Duties
Watch Duty Rate
Watches imported into France are subject to classification and duty assessment based on a per item basis. The actual duty and the final rate of duty are determined based on the classification of the watch at the time of entry processing with customs.

Import Taxes
In addition to duties , goods imported into France are also subject to a value-added Tax (VAT) which is generally charged at one of two rates:

  • The standard rate of 19.6% applicable to most manufactured goods
  • The reduced rate of 5.5%, applicable mostly to agricultural products and foodstuffs, original artworks and certain medicines.

Customs Fees
Invoice Fee
Customs in some situations will assess additional fees based on the invoices provided for a shipment. The fee is usually levied if they deem them necessary as part of the terms of entry due to the size of the shipment and the related large number of invoices provided by the shipper for his goods.

Examination Fees
Additional fees can be assessed on some commodities to cover the expense of performing the examinations and or testing required as a condition of the goods entry into the commerce of France. Commodities affected: cosmetics, drugs and medicines, artwork.

Exchange Controls
These were abolished in France in 1990 but notifications of large outward transfers are required for the purposes of official statistics. For example, Import transactions exceeding 38,167 EUR in value must be conducted through an approved banking intermediary.

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT's)
Technical barriers or non-tariff barriers to trade, as they are sometimes known, can cause many problems for exporters looking for new markets for their products. These barriers can be in the form of regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade tries to ensure that these barriers do not create unnecessary obstacles. To obtain further information on Technical Barriers to Trade as well as Notifications on technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures, go to the WTO website at

Consular Fees
There are no consular fees.

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