France country guide
Learn about cross-border ecommerce, shipping, and importing.
If you are looking to grow your ecommerce business into France , you have come to the right place. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about selling goods into France.
Ease of doing business 5/5
- France consists of a talented and educated workforce. France is home to a sophisticated, innovative, modern financial and business culture with a world-class infrastructure.
- The elite transportation networks in France facilitate reliable shipping and delivery.
- France ranked fourth in the Countries with the Best Foreign Direct Investment Opportunities 2020, and they are likely to continue attracting investors.
Landed cost fairness 3/5
- France’s high import tax rate and low average import duty rate balance with each other for a generally fair landed cost.
Flexibility of legal regulations 4/5
- France’s import regulations fall under the European Union’s (EU), which are reasonable and allow for easier trade.
Availability and accessibility of shipping 5/5
The central European location of France lends to easy access for major couriers to ship there.
Accessibility and variety of payment methods 5/5
- France accepts universal payment methods, with the most common being credit and debit cards.
Market opportunity 5/5
- France’s sizeable population and high percentage of internet users provide a potentially successful economy for retailers.
- France is the world’s fifth-largest economy and third-largest in Europe.
|Population||64.6 million (2022)|
|GDP||2.82 trillion USD (2022)|
|GDP per capita||42,330 (2022)|
|Internet penetration||93 % of the population use the internet (2022)|
|Ecommerce users||75.7% of the population shop online (2022)|
|Leading product categories||Fashion; cultural products; toys/games; beauty/hygiene; and furniture/decorations|
|Preferred online payment method(s)||Credit/Debit cards, bank transfers, and ewallets|
The landed cost for a cross-border transaction includes all duties, taxes, and fees associated with the purchase. This includes:
- Product price
- Fees (currency conversion, carrier, broker, customs, or government fees)
French de minimis, tax, and duty
Terms to know:
CIF: CIF (cost, insurance, freight) is a method for calculating import taxes or duties where the tax is calculated on the cost of the order plus the cost of freight and insurance.
Duty and tax de minimis
- Tax de minimis: 0 EUR
- Duty de minimis: 150 EUR
Based on the CIF value of the order
De minimis value
Duty will be charged only on imports into France where the total CIF value of the import exceeds France’s minimum value threshold (de minimis). France has a duty de minimis of 150 EUR and a tax de minimis of 0 EUR, so every import to France is subject to VAT. Whereas, anything under the duty de minimis value will not incur duty.
- Standard rate: 20%
Applied to the CIF value of the order
Value-added tax (VAT)
Import VAT is charged on the CIF value of the order at a standard rate of 20%. However, medicine is reduced by a 2.1% rate, food and agricultural products by 5.5%, and some services by 10%. The EU introduced Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) as its method for collecting VAT in July 2021.
Other import tax
Only for business-to-business (B2B) imports
VAT reverse charge: As of January 2022, businesses must file a reverse charge if they intend to reclaim or deduct VAT. Learn everything that this regulation entails in our France VAT Reverse Charge blog.
When does a non-EU business have to charge EU VAT?
It is dependent upon the buyer’s location and whether or not they have a valid VAT registered number (VRN).
If the buyer does not have a VRN, you do charge VAT.
- If the buyer does not have a VRN, then they are a normal-end consumer, and no VAT reverse charge protocols are required. You must charge VAT on the sale as normal
If the buyer does have a valid VRN, you do not charge VAT.
- If the buyer does have a VRN, then there is no need to charge VAT. The transaction is covered by the reverse-charge mechanism.
- Average: 4.2%
- Rate range: 0-17%
Applied to the CIF value of the order
Average duty rate
Import duty is charged on the CIF value of the order. Import duty rates range from 0-17%, with an average rate of 4.2%.
Landed cost examples
Below are sample landed cost breakdowns for France calculated using Zonos Quoter. Since the tax de minimis is 0 EUR, tax will always apply:
Landed cost for a shipment to France below the duty de minimis value:
Landed cost for a shipment to France above the duty and tax de minimis value:
France is a member of the EU, which has over 60 trade agreements that offer a zero or highly discounted duty rate for goods manufactured in participating countries.
France is a member of the World Trade Organization
As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), France must abide by the most-favored-nation (MFN) clause, which requires a country to provide any concessions, privileges, or immunities granted to one nation in a trade agreement to all other WTO member countries. For example, if one country reduces duties by 10% for a particular WTO country, the MFN clause states that all WTO members will receive the same 10% reduction.
France’s Customs authority
Customs refund in France
Talk to your carrier about customs refunds.
Top courier services:
- DHL Express
- La Poste
ICS2 is a cargo information system aimed to screen shipments for security and safety prior to their arrival into or across the European Union as well as the United Kingdom.
- You need to ensure that you are providing the carriers with good (not vague) package descriptions when you’re shipping a package to the EU.
- All air carriers, freight forwarders, express courier services, and postal operators transporting goods to or through the European Union by air must digitally submit advance cargo information to the EU's new customs pre-arrival security and safety program.
Depending on the courier, additional shipping fees may include:
- Fuel surcharge
- Remote delivery charge
- Signature fee
- Overweight or oversized fee
- Special handling fee
- Dangerous goods fee
Documentation and paperwork
Economic operator registration and identification (EORI) (if your business is based outside of the EU)
Tax ID from buyer (necessary for all individuals and organizations with a tax obligation in France)
Prohibited, restricted, and controlled imports into France
Government agencies regulate imports.
Restricted items are different from prohibited items. Prohibited items are not allowed to be imported into a country at all. Restricted items are not allowed to be imported into a country unless the importer has approval or a special license that allows them. Controlled goods have military or national security significance.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Animal skins
- Communications equipment
- Compact discs (CD)
- Computer software
- Diskettes/floppy disks
- Drugs (prescription and non-prescription)
- Electronic games
- Fabric and fabric samples
- Gambling devices
- Grain samples
- Hazardous goods
- Hemp cannabis
- Leather goods
- Lighting conductors with radioactive elements
- Plants and plant products
- Radar equipment
- Telecommunications equipment
- Televisions and television equipment
- Works of art
- Agricultural products (e.g. grains and cheeses)
- Biological reagents
- Goods listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) agreement
- Non-perishable food
- Alcohol products
Legal regulations for businesses
The Combined Nomenclature (CN), which is the Harmonised System (HS) codes with further EU subdivisions, is used to classify most goods when declared at customs in the EU. The CN document is updated and published every year, and the latest version can be found on the European Commission's website.
The Single Administrative Document (SAD) and summary declaration are documents used by customs brokers for trade data collection.
- Economic Operators Registration and Identification number (EORI) is an importer’s identification number. A business needs to provide an EORI for B2B shipments, but a business-to-consumer (B2C) shipment does not need an EORI upon import.
Rules and VAT rates
What does ICS2 require retailers to do?
Everyone who ships to Europe and the UK is impacted (eg. online retailers, manufacturers, and exporters) must ensure they have accurate information regarding the recipient and package contents before they send the shipment through the carrier or postal operator to the EU or the UK.