New website in France helps you work out tax for non-EU imports

DéclareDouane service can help you budget and will speed up the process at the border when bringing in items such as alcohol, tobacco, fashion or furniture

Customs declarations and payments may be needed when bringing items back from outside the EU
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A new website has been launched that helps travellers work out if they need to pay taxes on entering France from outside the EU and generate a declaration to show at the border.

France’s customs authority is working to improve the DéclareDouane website so users can also pay their taxes online prior to arrival.

However, the Douanes could not tell us when this feature will be ready to go live.

In the meantime, people can visit the site here for a simulation of what VAT and customs duties will be payable on the items they are bringing with them. They can also, if they wish, complete a declaration which generates a document they can print and take with them or save on their phone.

Taxes may be payable if, for example:

  • You visit a non-EU country and bring back items such as alcohol and cigarettes over certain allowances
  • You bring back costly electronic goods, such as phones, cameras, laptops etc
  • You have bought clothing

The rules relate to the quantity of items for alcohol and cigarettes but for other purchases abroad there are caps on value (eg. €430 per adult) before VAT and/or customs duty becomes payable.

In the case of imports from the UK, in theory, no customs duties are payable on items that can be proved to have been wholly or mostly made within the UK or EU.

Read more: Recap of post-Brexit rules on bringing items into France

VAT, and in some cases duties, can also be payable if you are bringing in items for a French second home, such as DIY tools and materials, furniture etc.

Read more: French customs – rules for taking furniture from UK to your second home

How to use the new site

To make use of the new customs website to calculate what you will pay, you need to click on ‘Ignore’ at the top right to enter the site properly (it is still in ‘beta’ trial version).

You can then use one of two similar sections to tot up taxes on items you will be bringing in:

  • Simulateur de droits et taxes allows you to see how much you will have to budget for in VAT/duty
  • Déclarer mes achats allows you to complete some personal details as well as totalling your items, so as to generate a form with a QR code which you can show at the border to a customs officer.

Within these you should select the country from which you will be arriving and then list the items and their value, for example, whether they are tabac (tobacco), alcool (alcohol), mode (fashion) etc.

There are sub-categories within each heading, for example, if you select maison, you can then choose from meubles (furniture), literie (bedding), décoration, vaisselle (crockery) or objects d’art et de collection (art and collectibles).

A spokesman for the Douanes said: “For any questions related to unique items or situations that the simulator does not account for, we have an office of Douane workers available at 0 800 94 40 40.

“You will still have to go through the system at the border, but you can do some of the work ahead of time now. We have released it this summer to help people coming back from vacations.”

If you have a non-urgent query about customs you can also write to the Douanes via this link.

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