SELLING in a vide-greniers is a good way to get rid of your household clutter. These popular “car-boot” sales literally mean “empty your attics.”
Anyone can take part but only twice a year. Beyond that and you, theoretically, risk heavy fines and even imprisonment for carrying out unauthorised commerce.
Tens of thousands of vide-greniers are held each year and there is bound to be one coming up near you.
There are websites to find details of sales in your area but none are exhaustive. Popular ones include http://brocabrac.fr and www.vide-greniers.org
Otherwise check with your tourist information office or mairie for information about ones in your local area.
Usually you have to sign up to take part before the event although some allow it on the day. The organisers will need a photocopy of an identity document (eg. your passport) and personal details – often there will be a simple application form to fill in.
You also need to attest, on your honour, that you have not taken part in more than one other sale this year.
There is also a small charge for hire of space - often a few euros per square metre, though sometimes there are stalls of a set size for a modest fee.
Private individuals selling in a vide-greniers are only allowed to sell their own, used goods. Since a change in the law last year, you can take part in sales outside your own commune.
Profits from selling your own items at a vide-greniers as a private individual do not have to be declared for income tax.
Some sales are aimed just at private individuals but others are also open to people who sell professionally, who have to be registered with the local chamber of commerce.
Where a sale is mainly for professionals, it is known as a brocante. It is not at present possible to be a professional brocanteur using the auto-entrepreneur business set up. This is because you need authorisation from your prefecture, which can only be given when you provide an extract of your registration on the registre des commerces et des sociétés (called un extrait kbis) at the chamber.
Another popular option for selling off items is eBay.fr
Once again, occasional selling on eBay is not considered to generate taxable income, although some people who sell large amounts have been caught out and deemed to be acting as professionals.
A government tax adviser said you must be doing the activity on a regular basis and with the aim of making profit to be considered a professional. Usually this means buying and reselling, not just selling off your own old items.
Note that if you are in France you must register at www.ebay.fr but you can then buy and sell on any eBay site (eg. American-based www.ebay.com or UK-based www.ebay.co.uk).