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This article is dedicated to the formalities relating to the importing into France of a private vehicle (car or motorcycle) that is subject to registration and imported for personal use.

How can I import my vehicle without paying duties and taxes?

Customs duty: this designates a tax on imported goods. This tax applies when the goods cross over a border. The customs duty may be a lump sum or calculated as a percentage of the price of the goods.

Tax: this refers to value added tax (VAT), which is currently 20%.

The importing of a vehicle without the payment of duty and taxes is subject to specific requirements.


If your main residence is in France, you can benefit from an exemption, i.e. the non-payment of the duties and taxes normally due in the event of importing a vehicle from outside Europe, provided the following conditions are satisfied:

  • You have resided at least 12 months in a country outside the European Union.
  • The vehicle in question was for your personal use for at least 6 months before the transfer of your residence.
  • You have paid all the customs duties and/or taxes due in the country from which the vehicle is being imported or the vehicle’s country of origin
  • Your vehicle must be imported into France within 12 months of the date oftransfer of your main residence to France.
  •  You may not dispose of a vehicle that has been admitted tax and duty-free for a period of 12 months following the date of its entry into France.


Go to the relevant customs office for your new residence with the following documents:

  • Two signed and dated copies of a detailed estimated inventory of the personal items that you are importing, which includes your vehicle with its chassis number.
  • Two copies of the Cerfa no. 10070*03 form for the declaration of duty-free entry into France of personal property from countries outside of the European Union.
  • Documentation showing that your main residence was in a country situated outside the European Union and showing the transfer of your residence to France. For example, you can request a certificate of change of residence from the relevant French consulate.
  • The registration certificate from the country of origin for your vehicle, or an equivalent official document.
  • The purchase invoice for the vehicle, which must be fitted with valid foreign number plates.

Note: a translation of these last two documents may be requested.

Once these formalities have been completed, French customs will give you a stamped copy of your inventory and a Certificate No. 846 A that you will need to include with the documents to be uploaded to the ANTS site within a maximum period of 4 months in order to register your vehicle in France.

In what cases must duties and taxes be paid?

Duties and taxes will be payable if:

  • One of the above-specified conditions is not fulfilled.
  • Your vehicle was purchased in one of the French overseas departments and territories (DROM, ex DOM) or in one of the French overseas administrative divisions (COM, ex TOM).

The procedure for declaring your vehicle to customs is fairly similar to the previous case, but you will need to go through a registered customs clearance agent and provide additional documents if:

  • Your vehicle has passed in transit through another country – an external community transit declaration (T1). This customs regime applies mainly to the movement of non-community goods: it suspends duties and other applicable taxes until the goods reach their destination in the European Community.
  • Your vehicle comes from a country that has an agreement with the European Community – a preferential certificate of origin stamped by the customs service in the country of origin.

Customs duty and taxes apply to the vehicle’s value excluding tax as shown on the purchase invoice, and can be increased by transportation costs,options or special equipment. In the event of doubt, French customs retains the power to assess the value declared within the limits specified by the regulations.

Customs duty is 10%, to which taxes must be added, for most foreign countries, VAT at 20% on the price excluding taxes, increased by customs charges, whatever the mileage and age of the vehicle (*).


  1. (*) Vehicles that are more than 30 yearsold benefit from a ‘classic car’ rate. They are only taxed at a 5.5% VAT rate and are exempt from customs duty. You therefore save 10% customs duty and 14.5% VAT.
  2. Customs duty on vehicles from a country outside the European Community benefiting from an agreement can be reduced or even be zero; however, VAT remains payable. In some cases, mainly the DROM (French overseas territories), only the latter is payable.
  3. A vehicle of community origin which was exported and then imported back into the European Union is often treated as a foreign product. However, it may be exempt from customs duty or VAT if the ‘returning goods regime’ is applicable.

How are payments made?

Import duties and taxes are paid on demand and must be paid before the removal of the vehicle.

You can pay:

  • In cash: payment should be made in euros because payment in foreign currencies is only possible in some offices that are authorised to carry out manual currency exchanges.
    You can, however, check with the customs office if they offer this service.
  • By certified banker’s draft, a postal or bank cheque, depending on the total amount.
  • By cash money order.
  • By direct transfer to the French Treasury’s current account at the Bank of France.

After the customs clearance process, the customs office will give you the following documents:

  • A receipt.
  • A copy of the customs declaration.
  • An ‘846 A’ customs clearance certificate, which is necessary to obtain a registration certificate.

At this point, you can use your vehicle in France for 4 months with its foreign or transit number plates if you are insured, and can justify its customs clearance with a Certificate no. 846 A.


French law requires any user of a motor vehicle to subscribe to an insurance contract that includes third-party liability. You must therefore be able to produce a certificate of insurance that complies with the obligation to have automobile insurance as specified by article L 211-1 of the French Insurance Code.
Alternatively, you can take out a special type of ‘French frontier insurance’ as specified by article R 211-24 of the above-mentioned code, when you arrive from a country outside the European Economic Area. This insurance can be obtained from any customs office located in the metropolitan territory of the ‘frontier insurance’ coinsurance grouping. It can be taken out for a period of 30 or 90 days and can only be renewed once for a period of the same duration as that of the initial subscription.

Our next article will be dedicated to the Réception à Titre Isolé (Single Vehicle Approval) necessary to register your vehicle imported from outside the European Union in France. See you again soon.

If you wish to add any information to this article, share your personal experience or obtain additional information, please leave a comment.