Customs – Not Just A Kiss on Each Cheek

Here’s an important piece of information I almost missed. Customs! In order to ship by belongings to France, I need to collect some documentation and submit an application for something called a Certificat de Changement de Residence from the French Consulate. This form allows me to clear my belongings through customs without having to pay taxes or duties.

Here’s a portion of the email I received from French Customs when I inquired:

“You may import personal effects (wearing apparel, jewelry, toilet articles, hunting and fishing equipment and similar effects) as well as household effects (furnitures, carpets, dishes, linen, libraries, pictures and similar household furnishings) free of duty and tax, provided you meet the following conditions:

-those articles have been for your use for at least 6 months before the date of your change of residence (Yes, no problem!)

-each of those articles is itemized in a comprehensive list, in duplicate, signed and dated, of the goods you are importing into France as part of your moving (in one or more shipments), with the identification of their value (Ug! Sounds like such fun! Does it need to be in French?)

-you are in a position to prove, to the satisfaction of Customs, that you have been living outside the European Union for at least 1 year prior to your moving to France (No sweat!) and that you are going to settle down in France on a permanent basis, e.g. by producing a French Resident Card (“carte de séjour”) or a letter from your French employer (or in my case, a marriage license to a UK spouse living in France).

They referred me to the consulate for forms, and I have yet to hear back from the consulate. However, as I understand it, I will need the following to accompany my application:

  •     Copy of my passport
  •     Attestation de Non-cession (basically stating I’ve lived abroad for at least one year, owned all household goods items for more than six months, and that I won’t sell them for at least twelve months)
  •     Proof of residence in France (lease?)
  •     Marriage license
  •     Inventory of goods in French valued in Euros dated and signed
  •     Household goods Inventory must indicate contents of each carton (electrical items listed separately with serial numbers and original receipts)

These items will need to be translated into French. And to be safe, I’ll need triplicates of everything, I suppose. C’est le moyen!

Having learned all this, I now have more questions than when I started. Does the Changement serve as proof of residency or do I need a lease (in which case I can’t apply until Stuart finds our new home)? How detailed does my inventory need to be? Do I need to list every pair of socks, for example, or each sock? Or can I say “10 pairs of socks” or better yet, “clothing”? How on earth should I assign value to 10 pairs of used socks? I’m happier than ever that I’m not bringing much with me! Guess I better get crackin’ on those lists and translations.


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