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Living in France For Members

What you should know about sending packages to and from France at Christmas

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
What you should know about sending packages to and from France at Christmas
(Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

With Christmas just a few weeks away, here's what you need to know about sending gifts between France and the UK, America, Canada, Australia, and Ireland.

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The French postal service is key for foreigners living in France as you depend on it for everything from sending important documents to receiving gifts from people back home - especially at Christmas.

La Poste handily allows you to check out how much it will cost you to send your letter or package in advance. You can do that here.

Here’s what you can expect for those all-important Christmas parcels and care packages.

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UK

Parcels can be sent between France and the UK easily because of long-standing links. Most shipping companies can deliver products between the countries within one or two working days. It’s unlikely, in most cases, that delivery will take longer than four days.

However, Christmas is a very busy time for delivery services. To guarantee delivery in time for Christmas, Britain’s Royal Mail recommends sending parcels no later than Wednesday, December 14th.

Since January 2021, parcels sent between France and the United Kingdom have been subject to customs and duty fees and VAT - and some extra paperwork at the post office, as anyone who has tried to post birthday or Christmas cards will be aware. 

READ ALSO: How foreigners in France are being hit with big parcel fees

If you mark the parcel as a gift, you should not incur any custom charges if it is below the value of €45.

Customs duty is due only on orders worth more than €150, and will depend on the nature of the product. VAT must be paid on all products imported into France from a non-EU country. The standard rate is 20 percent, although reduced rates apply to certain products, such as books (5.5 percent). 

La Poste charges €2 to €5 for these frais de gestion if VAT is paid online in advance (at laposte.fr), or €8 when paid upon delivery.

READ ALSO: The post Brexit rules and charges for sending post between UK and France

USA

You will need to complete a customs declaration when you send parcels between the US and France. Your parcel may also incur customs duties and taxes that will need to be paid by the recipient.

Generally a parcel from France to the US - and vice versa - takes up to 10 days door to door, though it can be done much faster if you’re prepared to pay for the privilege. Again, Christmas deliveries are more difficult to guarantee, but the last date you can send parcels to the US that you can confidently expect to arrive in time for Christmas is around December 7th. 

The following restrictions apply:

Prohibited items: alcoholic beverages, pharmaceutical products not approved by the American administration.   

Food shipments: Food producing companies must be registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

CANADA

Generally a parcel from France to Canada - and vice versa - takes between five and eight days door to door. Christmas deliveries are more difficult to guarantee, but the last date you can send parcels that you can confidently expect to arrive in time for Christmas is around December 7th. 

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As with the US, you will need to complete a customs declaration when you ship to Canada from  France. Your parcel may also incur customs duties and taxes that will need to be paid by the recipient. But all this should be taken care of when you take your parcel to the post office.

You have to declare all food, plants, animals and related products sent to Canada, and there are - unsurprisingly - restrictions on firearms, explosives and ammunition and other items. For complete information, click here

AUSTRALIA

You will need to complete a customs declaration when you send parcels between France and Australia. Your parcel may also incur customs duties and taxes that will need to be paid by the recipient.

The cost of sending a parcel to Australia will vary depending on the size and weight of the package you’re sending and how quickly you need it to arrive.

Christmas deliveries are more difficult to guarantee, but the last date you can send parcels to the US that you can confidently expect to arrive in time for Christmas is around December 7th.

Australian quarantine laws are strictly enforced on imports of all products of plant and animal origin, as well as those made from soil or sand. Shipments should not be packed in wooden boxes or fruit cartons.

IRELAND

As Ireland is a member of the EU, no customs duties or VAT rules apply on parcels sent from France. Deliveries take two to five days in normal circumstances, but Christmas parcels should be sent no later than December 14th for arrival in time for the celebrations. And vice versa.

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