Relocating to France

Relocating to France
Updated 2019-08-15 08:30

Of all the steps involved in switching countries, nothing brings more headaches than the removals process. If you are moving to France from the European Union, you will be exempt from the hassle of complex customs procedures, but if you are moving from further out, be sure to check out a wide range of removal services before making a firm commitment.

Because of the large flux of expatriates moving in and out of France, the market is very competitive and it can be worthwhile finding out whether moving agencies in your country of origin have special deals with their French counterparts. For those who can afford to hire a relocation agency, you will be pleased to know that some also cover removals.

Getting started

The first step of the removals process is to create a list of the objects that need to be transported by a removals agency. It is important to classify your objects and to single out those which require special care, such as glasses, mirrors, art pieces or fragile furniture. It is important to specify to the mover what you will do (for example, the dismantling of furniture or packing crockery) and what you expect the agency to execute. Additionally, it is possible for agencies to unpack once you reach France, or to store your belongings at a collection warehouse for you to pick up upon your arrival.

To find a carrier or a mover, it is best to use the internet as you will not only be able to spot the best deals but will also be able to compare the palette of offerings from different agencies.

Fee estimation

The first step when hiring a removal agency is to agree on the load to be transferred as well as the specific services which will be required at both ends of the move. The following factors will impact the final fees charged:
Origin address ' where removers will pack and load your belongings
Destination address in France ' where removers will unload your belongings, that is whether they will unload it at your new residence in France or whether they will store the belongings temporarily in a warehouse from which you will then need to arrange a subsequent transfer
The exact services to be offered at both ends, that is packing and unpacking or delivery only
Volume or weight
Types of transportation (by air, train, truck, ship)
Nature of the services ' terms and conditions ' insurance damage
Prices and payment plans and any interest included therein

An important point to consider, especially if you are moving to Paris or another big city, is that many apartments do not have lifts and generally have very narrow staircases. Therefore, if you intend to unpack and carry your belongings yourself when you get to France, bear in mind that it can be very difficult to handle the moving-in process on your own.

Making a list

Make an exhaustive inventory of your belongings in order to establish a proper valuation. The valuation document is important as it sets the compensation amount you could receive in case of loss or damage of your belongings.

Complete the declaration of value yourself by stating the overall value of your belongings and lay particular emphasis on precious items. Always make sure that you read the fine print, especially if you are not fully fluent in French and need to decipher documents provided to you by a French agency. The terms and conditions of your contract will generally set out extensive details on transportation and the handling of precious objects.

Damage insurance

Accordingly, a damage insurance will be proposed by the carrier. This insurance automatically covers non-predictable damage associated with the transportation of your belongings up to the value indicated in the declaration of value. The cost for the insurance depends on the overall value of your belongings, and the removal company must issue a certificate of insurance. Note that it is sometimes also possible for you to find your own insurance policy rather than using the one offered by the removals agency.


The last step is to sign the waybill before and after the delivery of your belongings. The waybill is a document that specifies the terms and conditions of the contract, the mode of transportation, the volume or weight carried by the removal company, and the name and address of both the customer and the carrier. By signing the waybill, you agree to the terms and conditions and give permission to the removal company to go ahead with the transfer. Regarding removal payment plans, a deposit is usually to be paid before loading and the balance paid upon delivery.


In general, carriers handle customs paperwork for you (customs clearance, etc.). For more security, opt for a carrier affiliated with the FIDI (International Federation of International Movers) as the latter will be more conversant with the rules and will be used to dealing with customs.

Good to know:

Contact the French consulate or embassy for more information about relocation in the country and the relevant customs rules and prohibitions in place. Additionally, if you hire a removal agency or a relocation consultant, the latter will be able to provide you will detailed information on the rules in place.

Useful links:

FEDEMAC ' Federation of European Movers
FIDI ' International Federation of International Removers

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.