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DRIVING

Reader question: How can I import a car from the UK to France?

Brexit has made it incredibly difficult to import cars from the UK into France. We take a look at why.

A man waves a Union Jack from the window of a European-made car.
A man waves a Union Jack from the window of a European-made car. Importing vehicles from the UK to France is now practically impossible unless you are a professional trader. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

I want to import a car from the UK to France but it seems like the process is quite complicated ever since Brexit. What steps do I need to take? 

Importing a car from the UK to France has never been straightforward, but Brexit has certainly made things harder. 

Multiple dedicated car trading websites insist that only third-party professional exporters or people working in customs are capable of doing so successfully. 

We will do our best to explain why.

What is the process? 

The main difficulty is reaching the relevant customs officials to get the necessary authorisation to import a car in the first place. 

On the British side, you will need to declare that you are exporting via National Export System. To do this, you must get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number – but you can only obtain such a number if you are only moving goods for personal use (i.e. if you are simply bringing a car for yourself).

You will also need access to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) platform – again this is only possible for traders. If you fail to declare your export officially, border officials may block you from entering France with the vehicle. 

On the French side, you will ultimately need a 846A certificate to be able to drive your imported car legally – or to eventually sell it in France. Obtaining such a certificate is no easy feat. You will need to present the following documents to French customs officials after entering France:

  • A UK car registration certificate;
  • A receipt for the car, if you purchased it in the UK;
  • A certificate of conformity from the original seller attesting whether or not the car was mostly designed or manufactured in Europe (this can reduce the amount of payable customs fees).

To obtain the 846A certificate, you will need also to pay VAT and customs charges unless you meet the following criteria:

  • You have been living outside of the EU for more than one year and are moving to live in France;
  • You own the vehicle and have used it for at least six months;
  • You have listed the vehicle in the inventaire de vos biens (you have an insurance document proving that the vehicle belongs to you);
  • It is a personal vehicle rather than commercial utility one;
  • You have paid the required tax on the vehicle in the UK. 

If you don’t meet the above conditions, then you will have to pay the the tax and charges. 

You will generally have to pay 10 percent of the value of the car as a customs charge, although this can vary. You will also need to pay a flat 20 percent VAT charge on the imported vehicle. In other words, unless you can get an exemption, it is very expensive to import a vehicle from the UK into France. 

Our advice?

Don’t import a car from the UK to France. Not only is it expensive, but unless you are running an import/export business, it is also pretty much impossible. 

You are best off selling your vehicle in the UK and using public transport in France – or using the funds from the sale to buy a car on this side of the channel. 

Member comments

  1. These two paragraphs, when read together, don’t make sense (see the “again” in para 2). Do you mean that an EORI number is for traders? Or is CHIEF for private individuals? Which is it? The reader will assume that both systems should cater for the same group of people.
    The Local is a very useful source of information but too often the proofreading/subediting – call it what you will – is very poor, to the point of confusing the reader. It is getting very annoying and you risk misleading readers. If you don’t have a dedicated sub-editor, then please ask your journalists to proofread their articles properly.
    “On the British side, you will need to declare that you are exporting via National Export System. To do this, you must get an Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number – but you can only obtain such a number if you are only moving goods for personal use (i.e. if you are simply bringing a car for yourself).
    You will also need access to the Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) platform – again this is only possible for traders.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

Driving in France: Motorway tolls rise from February 1st

The cost of using France’s motorway network rose by a below-inflation average of 4.75 percent on Wednesday, February 1st.

Driving in France: Motorway tolls rise from February 1st

Going through the toll booths on France’s motorway network now costs more – though the average 4.75 percent increase remains below inflation, and is lower than the price rise of between 7 percent and 8 percent predicted last September after Transport Minister Clément Beaune called for “reasonable increases”.

“We are well below the reference inflation rate of 6.33 percent,” Vinci Autoroutes, which manages nearly half of the French network, said in a statement.

Even so, motorists may not appreciate the motorway companies’ efforts to ease the effects of the cost of living crisis, as prices rise unevenly across the board.

A journey from Toulon, in the Var, to Mandelieu, in Alpes-Maritimes (113km) now costs €13 in tolls, up from €12.10 in 2022 – an increase of 7.4 percent.

Drivers heading between Lyon and Montpellier now have to pay an extra €1.90 to make their journey, up 6.7 percent on last year’s prices; and motorists will have to pay an additional €2.10 to make the five-hour journey along the A4 between Paris and Strasbourg.

In recent years, the annual rate of the annual increases has been lower. Tolls went up 2 percent on average last year, and just 0.44 percent in 2021. The annual increases are based on a formula that takes into account the rate of inflation and the amount of maintenance work undertaken, which is written into the motorway operators’ contracts with the government.

For home-work trips, Vinci Autoroutes has frozen the prices of 70 percent of trips of less than 30 km, as well as “half of trips of less than 50km and the bypass routes of 35 towns”.

The stretches between Aubagne and Cassis (Bouches-du-Rhône) on the A50, between Villefranche-de-Lauragais and Toulouse sud (Haute-Garonne) on the A61, and between Orléans nord and Olivet (Loiret) on the A10, for example, will see no price increase.

Subscribers to the Ulys 30 electronic toll system, meanwhile, now receive 40 percent concessions, compared to 30 percent previously on their regular commuter route.

According to Vinci, for every €10 in tolls, €4 is then paid to the government in taxes; €3.50 covers maintenance, modernisation and operating costs; and the remainder repays investors and services debts.

However, motorway operators are regularly singled out for the scale of their profits, recorded at €3.9 billion in 2021, 11 percent more than in 2019. 

If you’re driving in French towns and cities, remember that you may need a Crit’Air sticker – full details HERE.

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