Living in France For Members

Explained: The post-Brexit rules and charges for sending parcels between UK and France

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Explained: The post-Brexit rules and charges for sending parcels between UK and France
International parcel deliveries have new rules after Bexit. Photo: AFP

From ordering things online to gifts from family members, parcels sent between France and the UK are subject to different rules and extra charges since Brexit.


All types of parcel - whether commercial or private - are affected by changes to postal rules that came into force when the UK left the EU.

There are three main changes; costs, customs declarations and rules on animal products.

Customs declarations

As well as having the appropriate postage, all items apart from documents sent from the UK to the EU need an extra customs declaration form attached.

This form asks for the sender and recipient's details, whether the item is a gift or an item sent for sale (which affects the level of duty in some countries) and a detailed description of what is in it - so birthday or Christmas parcels slightly lose their element of surprise. The form is available to download here.

This rule does not apply to people sending parcels from Northern Ireland.


The same also applies to people sending parcels from the EU to the UK, the customs declaration must be completed before sending, either at the post office or in advance by downloading it from the postal service of the relevant country. All customs declarations being sent to the UK must be completed in English.


There is also an extra cost to having items sent from the UK to France and it's split into two parts; a handling fee from the parcel carrier (which is usually €10 for La Poste and varies with other carriers) and extra VAT/TVA charges for non-EU parcels.

If you're ordering online from a business, the extra charges will usually be added when you pay and normally the sender would pay the fees - however it's far from uncommon for these not to have been paid in full, in which case the recipient is charged before they can accept the parcel.

These fees can be significant, sometimes more than the value of the item you ordered, so check carefully on all fees before you order.

There have also been numerous reports of people receiving a nice little gift from family in the UK and then being charged significant amounts to collect the parcel. Although it's a lovely idea for granny to send you a little home-made gift, you might have to suggest that she waits and gives it to you in person.  


Animal products

Importing products derived from an animal into the EU from a Third Country (which is what the UK now is) is a complicated process and the rules apply to both businesses and individuals, and to items carried in person or send by mail.

The EU's strict phyto-sanitary rules mean that all imports of animal derived products technically come under these rules - so sending a nice box of chocolates by post is now not allowed (due to the milk).

Known as Personal Imports (which also covers items that you bring back in your luggage after a trip to the UK) these have some exemptions including limited amounts of baby milk, food required for medial reasons or limited amounts of honey and certain fish products - find more information here.

Parcels that contain banned animal products can be seized and destroyed at the border.

Online orders

So it's all pretty complicated and because of this, many UK-based companies have simply stopped accepting orders from customers in the EU, so if you're buying online it's best to check in advance whether the company will deliver to France in order to save yourself the hassle of going all the way through the order process before being told that your French address is outside their delivery area.


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Anonymous 2021/01/12 17:30
I complained yesterday about a parcel which was sent from UK on the 21st Dec .Tracking was telling me it had left Uk on the 25th and then no further movement To my great delight it has now arrived in my home although tracking has not been updated.TrevorGibbon
Anonymous 2021/01/11 17:44
Yes same here, late delivery of clothes sent from Asda, (shows e global and a French site with payment in euros), and today they asked for 23 euro for each packet, x 2, €46, so I guess now all the other clothing sites will be the same, wallis, marks etc,
Anonymous 2021/01/09 16:53
Could not Marks and Sparks have their sandwiches made in Paris? They would certainly taste better.
Anonymous 2021/01/08 12:30
Why are people surprised about the increased cost of goods? Probably because it was kept quiet and over shadowed by the 'no tariffs' deal. Those of us of a certain age can remember paying/collecting quite large sums for customs fees and VAT etc. As a postman it was always a pain in the neck that we had to take cash - no cheques - for the charges and had to face the abuse from the public who invariably didn't have the cash to hand. The worst were the folks in big houses, with shiny new cars who then spent an hour scouring the house for the cash. Could be quite comical at times.<br />So now us expats will be buying most of our stuff on EU websites where postage is often free. So who got the better deal?
Anonymous 2021/01/07 18:15
I’m not sure why everyone is so surprised about animal products. Having travelled to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand none allow you to take in things like meat or cheese. So why should the EU countries be any different. This was one of the many advantages of being a member which we have decided as a nation to reject. So for all those who visit Europe for your holidays and can’t live without your English breakfast, maybe time to consider a “staycation” as there will be no british bacon on the Costas this year.

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