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Why moving house in France is slightly easier than you think

Articles like this generally start with something along the lines of: ‘Moving house is a stressful business...’ but we’ve got some good news when it comes to the admin involved.

Why moving house in France is slightly easier than you think
Photo: Loic Venance / AFP

Reader question: I’m moving from one département to another in France – who do I need to inform of my new address? With an impending move, I’m hoping I’m not letting myself in for a snowstorm of admin!

Unfortunately, moving house is a stressful business – there’s nothing we can do about that.

Getting everything packed; cleaning the old place for the new owners; making sure the removal firm turns up on the right day and knows where to go; arranging final bills; handing over your keys and getting the ones to your new place; hoping the financial formalities go through as planned; getting in; making sure everyone and everything’s made it safely; finding the kettle… even generic broad strokes lists are long, and can build up a mountain of expectation and dread.

And, then, there’s the administration. All those businesses and authorities to contact who need to know your new address. With all that’s going on before, during and after a house move, the paperwork can seem to only add more pressure. Especially, as this is France, where it’s widely assumed that a byzantine maze of red tape makes everything more difficult.

There, at least, we can help. Or, more importantly, the French authorities can. The good news is that there is a simple, single, online government form that will do a lot of the work for you – informing social security offices, utility firms EDF and Engie, Pôle emploi, the tax office and vehicle registration offices on your behalf in just a few clicks.

It makes moving from one town to another, or one département to another, much easier than it used to be.

Here’s the link to that incredible French website.

Britons in France

Britons in France, who now must hold a post-Brexit residency card, will have to get a new, updated, carte de séjour after they move.

You have three months from the date you move to inform authorities of your change of address. You can start that process here.

READ ALSO Eight online services which make dealing with French bureaucracy easier

You can also sign up to the France Connect service, to access more than 900 public and other services online, using a single user ID and passcode combination – as long as you have a French social security number. More details on that HERE

Of course, this won’t solve all your house-moving headaches. You will still have to find a new GP and dentist if you’re moving any great distance, and perhaps a new school if you have school-age children. And, on the day itself, you may still end up searching frantically through boxes for the kettle.

But, at least, easing some of the stress is just a click or two away…

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LIVING IN FRANCE

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

If you want to send Christmas presents to friends and family overseas you need to know the deadline dates and how to avoid being hit with extra charges - here's what you need to know.

How and when to send Christmas presents from France

Deadlines

First things first, you need to make sure your parcel arrives in time for Christmas, which means sending it before the deadline.

The French postal service La Poste has the following deadlines;

In Europe

If you’re sending a parcel within France, the deadline to have it delivered by Christmas is December 23rd. 

If you’re sending to the UK or Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spanish islands (eg Tenerife), Croatia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Malta, Norway, Portuguese islands (eg Madeira) or Romania you have until December 16th.

If you’re sending to Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden or Switzerland you have until December 17th.

If you’re sending to Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Portugal you have until December 19th.

Outside Europe

If you’re sending to the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Hong Kong you have until December 10th. Likewise if you’re sending to most French overseas territories, the deadline is December 10th.

For most other countries the deadline is December 3rd, but you can find the full list here

Private couriers like Fed-Ex and DPD have their own deadlines, although they are broadly in line with La Poste, and if you’re buying online each company has its own deadline on when it can guarantee a Christmas delivery.

Fees and customs declarations

If you’re sending parcels to another EU country then it’s pretty straightforward – just pay the delivery cost (you can check how much it will be to send via La Poste here) and make sure you send it before the deadline.

If, however, you are sending to a country outside the EU (which of course now includes the UK) then you will need to fill out a customs declaration form explaining what is in your parcel and whether it is a gift or not.

In addition to standard postal charges, you may also need to pay customs duties, depending on the value or your parcel and whether it is a gift or not. 

Find full details on customs duty rules HERE.

Banned items

And there are some items that are banned from the post – if you’re sending parcels to the US be aware that you cannot send alcohol through the mail as a private individual, so don’t try a ship some nice French wine or a bottle of your local liqueur. 

Most countries ban firearms and fireworks, not unreasonably, although be aware that this includes items like sparklers.

Sending food and plants is also often restricted with countries including Canada and Australia having strict rules and most other countries imposing restrictions on what you can send.

This also applies the other way and France bans any foodstuffs containing animal products (eg chocolate) sent from outside the EU. 

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