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What is the best way to send a small parcel from France to the UK?

The national postal service offers two main ways to send parcels internationally

Following Brexit parcels to the UK now require a customs declaration Pic: Leika production / Shutterstock

Reader question: What is the best way to send a small personal parcel from France to the UK?

There are several methods of doing this.

Firstly, you can choose to make your parcel at home or you can go into a local post office to buy the packaging there. 

If you decide to make it at home, avoid making the shape too irregular; it is preferable for it to be rectangular or for you to use a tube. 

If it is an important delivery, you could look at the large international courier services (DHL, GLS etc), however the post office’s two standard services are the most commonly used, and are likely to cost less.

Also, avoid any fancy wrapping that is likely to be damaged. If you would like to give the package a personal touch, do so on the inside of the main parcel. 

What are the La Poste options to send a parcel to the UK?

Here is more detail on the two delivery systems for international packages offered by La Poste, France’s national postal service.

Colissimo 

Colissimo is the basic international parcel postage system. 

To use this, go to this website and fill in the relevant information including your address and information, the recipient’s address and information and details about the parcel. 

Note that packages sent from France to a country outside of the EU must be accompanied by a customs declaration. 

This declaration should state the type of parcel that it is (present, document, goods…),a brief description of the contents, its weight and its monetary value. 

Once you have filled in the information, you can pay for your parcel and obtain the necessary label and customs forms. 

The price depends on the size and weight of your package. The maximum weight for a Colissimo package is 30kg and the height, width and length combined cannot exceed two metres.

Bear in mind also, that your recipient in the UK may be asked to pay UK VAT at 20% on gifts with a value of more than £39 (around €45).

When you receive your label and purchase confirmation, you can print the label and attach it to your parcel. 

Then, you can go to a La Poste post office and post your package. Take with you the customs forms which will also be available to print, and which the post office will attach to your package in a transparent envelope.

If you do not have a printer you can print out your label and forms directly at the post office, using the code de retrait that you will be given on purchase of the postage.

You can undertake the whole process in-person at some post offices but many smaller post offices do not offer an in-person process, so doing so online is a safer option. 

Some people have also found the DIY machines at post offices to be more of a hindrance than a help.

Chronopost

Another service that you can use is called Chronopost, which will be faster but more expensive. 

To send a parcel using Chronopost, go to its website and fill in the relevant information about the parcel. 

It will then show you its offers. Usually, there are two: par voie aérienne and par voie routière. These are how the parcel will be delivered: by plane or road. 

When you choose your offer, you will then need to fill in a customs declaration and other relevant information about yourself, your recipient and the parcel. 

Chronopost also only delivers packages up to 30kg, with a maximum length of 150cm. 

Once you have paid and completed everything, you can either have your parcel collected for an extra cost or you can drop it off at a nearby post office or collection point. 

If you would like your parcel to be delivered as soon as possible the Chronopost service is probably the better option. If cost is more important than delivery time it would be Colissimo.

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