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Information for private individuals - Importing a Private Vehicle into France from Canada or the U.S.

Published on February 21, 2008

Please check the following links, and the information provided below :

"Private vehicles" are:

- motor cars principally designed for the transport of persons (including station wagons, house trailers, motor homes, trailers and semi-trailers),

- motorcycles (including mopeds),
that are subject to licensing formalities and imported by an individual for his or her private use.

For other types of vehicles (motor cars principally designed for the transport of goods - such as pick-up trucks -, special purpose motor vehicles, vintage cars, etc…) other rules and regulations apply.

I. Normal clearance procedure

Subject to the exemptions listed under II, III and IV below, vehicles imported into France (i.e. non-European Community), whether new or used, require the payment of Customs duties (for a car 10%) and taxes (20%).

The following countries are members of the European Community/Union:

Austria (excluding Liechtenstein), Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic,Denmark (excluding the Faroe Islands and Greenland), Estonia, Finland, France (including Monaco and the Overseas departments of Guadeloupe, Guiana, Martinique and la Réunion, but excluding Andorra, the Overseas territories of French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis & Futuna, as well as the territorial collectivities of Mayotte and Saint Pierre & Miquelon), Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy (excluding San Marino and the Vatican City), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (excluding Ceuta & Melilla and the Canary Islands), Sweden, the UK (including the Isle of Man but excluding the Channel Islands and the British Dependent Territories).

When the vehicle is imported directly into France from Canada or the US, Customs duties and VAT will be collected at the port of entry by the French Customs & Excise Service.

When the vehicle is shipped to France via another Member State of the European Union:

- Customs duties (levied at a uniform rate throughout the European Community) will have been paid at the port of entry into that State: only VAT will, therefore, have to be paid in France. It will not be collected by Customs but by the French Internal Revenue Service, the local tax collector ("receveur des impôts" );

- the vehicle will have moved to France from the port of entry in-bond (under the external Community transit procedure, i.e. under cover of a "T1" declaration), in which case, both Customs duties and VAT will have to be paid when the vehicle is cleared with the French Customs & Excise Service.

Applicable rates
Origin of the vehicle (1) Origin of the vehicle (1)
Duties/ Taxes A country tied to the EC by a trade agreement A country which is not tied to the EC by a trade agreement (2) Assesment
Customs duty Free or reduced duty rate, depending on the provisions of the agreement automobiles: 10%
motor homes: 10%

motorcycles: 9%

house trailers: 5.3%

trailers: 5.3%
The value of the imported vehicle (3), duty excluded, plus , where applicable, the cost of transport and insurance to the place of introduction into the EC and the value of any equipment, material or component incorporated in the vehicle
VAT 20% 20% The value of the imported vehicle (3), duty and tax excluded, plus, where applicable, Customs duty and incidental costs

(1) country where the vehicle was made. Note: if the vehicle was manufactured in the EC but had been previously exported to a third (non-EC) country, it is deemed, when re-imported, to have been made in that third country, and is therefore subject to the applicable duty rate;

(2) such as Canada or the US;

(3) the value, duty and tax excluded, is assessed as follows:

- you have a commercial invoice: the value will be the "transaction value" tax excluded, mentioned on that invoice, provided it is the price actually paid for the vehicle. For a secondhand vehicle, the invoice must be replaced by a seller’s certificate showing the actual purchase price and signed by the present owner;

- you have no commercial invoice nor seller’s certificate: the value will be assessed:

- either in conformity with standard values for new and used cars available in publications equivalent to the Blue Book in the US (Argus; Red Book; Sport Auto; Caravane-Camping-car; Officiel du Cycle et du Motocycle, etc...) if your vehicle is not sold in France or with the French Argus if the car is sold in France;
- or, failing that, by reference to the manufacturer’s selling price of your vehicle or of similar vehicles.

- Customs may deduct from this assessed value certain amounts - variable according to the type of vehicle and the publication used as the reference - to take into consideration the depreciation of the vehicle.

How to process your import through Customs?

You will need to submit to Customs at the French port of entry the following documents:

- foreign (i.e. Canadian or US) registration of the vehicle;

- a commercial invoice, where applicable;

- a T1 declaration (consisting of copies #4, 5 and 7 of the single administrative document - or SAD) where the vehicle has been imported through another Member State of the EU and has been sent in-bond to a French port of entry; this declaration must be submitted, in principle, to the French Customs office "of destination" entered in box #53 of the declaration, and always within the time limit prescribed by the Customs office "of departure" (in the other Member State of the EU); note that in-bond transit in the EU under a T1 declaration is usually covered by a guarantee;

- where the vehicle is imported directly from the country where it was manufactured and if this country has concluded a trade agreement with the EC, a movement certificate EUR.1, so that you may be eligible for the free or reduced duty rates as defined in the agreement.

After clearing Customs, you will be handed a copy of the import declaration, a receipt, as well as a customs entry certificate ("certificat de dédouanement") #846 A.


[*Once the vehicle has been cleared through Customs, you are under a strict obligation to apply for its registration under a French domestic license plate. You should complete this formality without delay and, in any case, within 4 months of importing the vehicle into France.*]

[*You should get in touch with your local "préfecture" for more information. But bear in mind that you will not be issued a French license plate unless:*]
[*- you submit the customs entry certificate #846 A or, if you have paid Value Added Tax to the French Internal Revenue Service ("Direction Générale des Impôts"), a certificate of intra-Community acquisition ("certificat d’acquisition") issued by the local tax collector;*]

[*For more info regarding registration of the vehicle, please follow the link :*]

[*- you have the vehicle’s conformity to French safety and environment standards checked by the local "direction régionale de l’industrie, de la recherche et de l’environnement" (DRIRE). Almost all vehicles purchased outside France are not manufactured to comply with French standards and will require modifications, sometimes of an expensive nature. You are particularly advised, prior to shipping the vehicle to France, to check with the manufacturer in Canada or the US the kinds of modifications that will be required to bring the vehicle in conformity with French standards. Nonconforming vehicles must be exported. After the expiration of the 4-month time limit, they may not be driven in France with the foreign license plates.*]

[*For more information on the changes you will have to undertake you can contact a regional environment directorate (DREAL) by clicking on the interactive map at the end of the page *]

Failure to comply may result in severe penalties.

Please find below a list of French car dealers which import US brand car:

1 a 9 avenue du Marais
95101 Argenteuil Cedex
Phone: 011 331 34 26 30 00
Fax : 011 331 34 26 32 63

Place de Rocquencourt
78153 Le Chesnay Cedex
Phone: 011 331 39 23 56 00
Fax : 011 331 39 23 56 95

HONDA FRANCE, Service homologation
Parc d’activite de Paris-Est
Allee du 1er mai
BP 46, 77312 Marne-la-Vallee Cedex 2
Phone: 011 331 60 37 30 00
Fax : 011 331 60 37 30 99

FORD FRANCE, Service homologation
34, Rue de la Croix de Fer
78122 St Germain en Laye Cedex
Phone: 011 331 31 01 61 01
Fax : 011 331 61 01 62 63

LAND ROVER FRANCE, Service homologation
34, Rue de la Croix de Fer
78122 St Germain en Laye Cedex
Phone: 011 331 31 01 68 00
Fax : 011 331 61 01 62 63

BMW FRANCE, Service homologation
3, Avenue Ampère
Montigny le Bretonneux
78 886 Saint Quentin en Yvelines Cédex
Phone : 011 331.
Fax : 011 331.

NISSAN FRANCE, Service homologation
Avenue Jean d’Alembert
ZA du Parc de Pissaloup
78194 TRAPPES Cédex
Phone : 011 331 30 69 25 00
Fax : 011 331 41 12 44 52

II. Special clearance procedure for those moving house

If you move house to France on a permanent basis (as distinct from a seasonal resident) and you had been living outside the European Union for the last 12 months prior to your arrival in (or return to) France, you may import your vehicle free of duty and VAT, provided you meet the following conditions:

- it is not a commercial or industrial vehicle;

- you have been the actual owner it for at least 6 months prior to exporting it to France;

- you have paid all applicable internal taxes in Canada or the US when purchasing it (which normally excludes cars owned by diplomats, for instance, unless they prove that they have paid those taxes);

- the vehicle is specified in the comprehensive list in duplicate, signed and dated, of all the goods you are moving to France, with the identification of its value, make, model and serial number, where applicable.

How to proceed?

You must submit to Customs at the port of entry:

- the above-mentioned list in duplicate of all the goods imported into France (in one or more shipments) as part of your moving;

- any justification that you have been a permanent resident of a third (i.e. non-EC) country, such as Canada or the US, for the last 12 months, and that you are establishing residency in France.

Note: vehicles once registered with a French domestic license plate and exported when moving abroad may be returned duty and tax free when you move back to France on a permanent basis.

When the vehicle is cleared in Customs, you will receive:

- a copy of the list endorsed by Customs;

- a customs entry certificate ("certificat de dédouanement") #846 A.


[*1. You may not sell or rent or otherwise dispose of the duty and tax exempted vehicle within 12 months after import;

2. Your vehicle is subject to registration at the local "préfecture" under a French domestic license plate and to conformity checks by the local "DRIRE" in the same conditions as those described under I above.*]

III. Special clearance procedure ofr tourists

If you are a Canadian or US resident and you are visiting the European Union as a tourist, you may temporarily import a private vehicle duty and tax free.

Who qualifies as a tourist under French Customs law?

Anyone who does not stay in the European Union more than 185 days in one calendar year and who does not enter the EU with a view to immigrating or to finding a paid job, even on a short-term basis.

What kind of vehicles may be temporarily imported by tourists?

Tourists are allowed to import the following vehicles (not more than one in each category):

- motorcycle;
- passenger car;
- trailer;
- semi-trailer;
- house trailer;
- motor home.

Tourists may drive with their own Canadian or US license plates and with their own personal driver’s licenses, provided they comply with the driving minimum age requirement in France of 18 and they have a valid insurance. Those vehicles do not have to meet the French safety and environment standards.

What conditions apply to vehicles imported temporarily by tourists?

- they cannot be used by French residents;

- they must be for your personal use and should in no way be sold, rented or otherwise disposed of in France;

- temporary admission is granted for a period of six months starting from your arrival in the EU;

- all such vehicles must be exported when the six-month time limit has expired.

Note: repairs carried out on the vehicle in France are liable to VAT (non-refundable).

IV. Other special clearance procedures

They are available to trainees, interns, individuals sent on secondment as well as to students in French schools and colleges.

One vehicle only may be temporarily imported duty and tax free, at the following conditions:

- it must have been subject, in Canada or the US, to the applicable domestic taxation (i.e. regularly licensed in those countries);
- it should be only for your personal use during your stay in France;
- it should not be sold, rented or otherwise disposed of in France;

you should hold a Canadian or US driver’s license (and be at least 18 years old) and a valid Canadian or US insurance.

The vehicle does not have to comply with the French safety and environment standards.

The temporary admission is granted for a maximum period of twelve months (trainee, interns, seconded individuals) and for the entire duration of the studies (school or college). The application must be documented with Customs at the port of entry with the temporary employment contract, the letter of acceptance of the internship, the certificate of enrollment at school or college, where applicable.

Note: Customs will usually require the posting of a bond or another security.

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