Moving to France
Thinking about starting a new life across the channel and moving to France? You’ll find yourself in great company, there are over 190,000 UK expats in France. Whether you want a checklist of how to move or to know the costs you can be confident that this page has the information you need:
- Emigrating to France
- Cost of Moving to France
- Moving tips
- Checklist: What to remember when moving to France
- Moving pets or cars
- Cost of living in France
- Finding a place to live
- More information about France
- Requesting free moving quote
France is the most visited country in the world. In 2014 the French government recorded around 84 million tourists in France. This is not all that surprising, given the generally pleasant weather, the fascinating attractions and lets not forget about the people moving to Paris! France is one of the two largest economies in the European Union and as such exerts a large influence over the politics of the region. If you are thinking of moving to France, it is important you have a basic understanding of the language. Only around 39% of the population in France actually speak English; however this figure is increasing due to children being taught at young ages.
The UK is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) and therefore, a British citizen and passport holder can enter France without a visa. Moreover, your passport must be valid throughout the length of your stay. After 3 months, a UK national immigrating to France is required to register at the town hall in their area of residence. You may also want to apply for a ‘carte de séjour’. A ‘carte de séjour’ is a permit of residence and is not a requirement for members of the EEA. However, having one may make it easier to prove your stay to the local police. The ‘carte de séjour’ is valid for 5 years and you can apply for it free of charge.
Moving to France post Brexit
A primary concern for those wanting to move to France is what will happen after the Brexit negotiations are finalized. As it stands there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding immigration policies with the EU therefore we are unable to comment with any conviction. Therefore we recommend proceeding with any moves but keeping a close eye on current events to be prepared for every outcome.
France is not a long way away from home. The close proximity means that moving to France gives more options and can be very affordable. There are two main ports in Nantes in the West and the capital Paris, so you can choose the most convenient location closer to your new home. Sending belongings by air is of course more convenient and the faster option; however comes with a premium price. Overland and sea shipping are more popular choices, and still only take around 3 days for your belongings to arrive at the nearest port. International shipping have available door to door delivery services, so even living further away from your nearest port is not an issue. Below is a rough estimate of how much it costs and takes to transport different size households by sea.
|House hold size||Time||Cost|
|1 bed flat||0-3 days||£1,389 – £1,430|
|3 bed house||0-3 days||£1,598 – £1,661|
|5 bed house||0-3 days||£1,897 – £1,992|
Making your move cheaper
There are many factors that can make your move cheaper for you. Below you will find the top 4 features that can vary your costs.
- Size of household – Of course a larger house means more to transport = higher costs
- Type of transport – Air may be faster than sea transport but will incur much higher costs
- Choice of insurance – Very good insurance can cost you an arm and a leg, especially with the far distance
- Additional options (Storage, packing, assembly) – These extra additions can cost extra but can make your move less stressful
Some of these factors can be controlled to help reduce costs; however it is dependant on how much work you are willing to put it. The close distance from France to the UK means scraping back on some of these costs is easily done. For example although insurance is recommended, the close distance means items are less likely to be lost or broken in comparison if you were moving to Australia. This being said it is always worth having insurance to make you move more safe and secure.
We want to help make your move as easy and safe as possible, so here are some tips from experience. As well as the weekend lots of banks, shops & businesses are closed on a Monday in France. We advise you try and avoid moving on these days just in case any unforeseen problems occur, as they are easier dealt with then banks etc are open. If you are packing your belongings yourself it is a top tip to make sure you are organised. Simple things such as labelling boxes and not making boxes too heavy can make your life a lot easier, especially when unpacking.
Unexpected Restricted items
Of course the main restricted items world wide are also not allowed in France such as weapons and drugs, but apart from this other items include:
- Ornamental foliage
- Live trees or plants
- Counterfeit Items
- Industrial or Medicinal Plants
- Animal products originating outside the EU
- Health insurance – Make sure you have an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This covers temporary stats but if becoming a resident it is important to apply for the state health insurance.
- Diplomas – There is not one EU recognised diploma. Existing higher education qualifications gained in other European countries will usually be accepted by French institutions.
- Bank – If you plan on keeping any UK bank accounts, the bank interest will be taxed (up to 45%) in France. It is also important you tell your bank you’re moving as they can block cards if they think activity is out of the norm. Transferring money is also possible, visit our page to find the easiest and cheapest way to transfer money abroad
- Documents in order – Make sure passports are up to date! There is no need for visas due to being a member of the EU. If you hold a valid licence from an EU/EEA country, you are able to drive in France. But must meet following requirements:
- The holder is at least the minimum age to drive in France
- Conforms to the medical requirements eg. Wears the correct glasses or contact lenses
- The holder has not been subject to a driving suspension in the country of the obtained licence
- Taxes – Make sure you tell the relevant UK tax authorities that you are leaving and let the French tax authorities know you intend to live permanently in France. Visit our page for more information on taxes in France
- Cancellations – Cancel any utilities or subscriptions you may currently have
- Mail redirects – Make sure your mail is redirected to your new address so you don’t miss any important mail
It is simple and easy for moving companies to move your furniture and your belongings. But when it comes to pets and cars it can be slightly more complicated.
Moving to France with pets
The close distance of France makes it quite simple and easy to move your pets to your new home. As long as your pet has been micro chipped, has a pet passport or third country official veterinary certificate and has been vaccinated against rabies it can enter into France. The most common way to move you pet abroad is simply the same way you move. It is fairly easy to drive with your pet or fly to France, depending on the size of course.
Moving your car to France
You are able to import free your new or used vehicle (including boats and planes) as long as VAT has already been paid in another EU country and that are a resident in France. It is easy to drive or use removal companies to transport your car to France
The quality of life is very high in France similarly to the UK. The cost of living in France on average is quite cheap! However it is dependant on where you are moving to. Centres of large popular cities will of course be more expensive than rural small village. Housing and rent prices are also dependant on what area you are wanting to live in. Below you can see a rough estimate and comparison between the prices of popular cities in France to live in. You can also visit our page for more detailed information about living in France
The process of buying a house in France is quite different from most Western countries. It’s highly recommended to use a real estate agent if you don’t speak French, even though their commissions can reach up to 15% of the asking price. These agents are experienced and can make the process smooth and less stressful. Another thing that might worry foreigners looking to buy a house in France, is that it’s not common practice to conduct surveys on a property before transferring ownership. It’s important to never rush into the purchase of a house. This is especially true in France, as it’s often difficult to back out of the deal even in the early stages of the buying process.
Make sure that you are well-informed about the state of the building you’re looking to buy. Local contractors will be able to come up with a cost price for your repairs or renovations. Do keep in mind that properties in France are usually old, however, in many cases, it is exactly what makes the property so charming. In many cases, plumbing, isolation, sanitary equipment and kitchen utilities are not perfect, to say the least.
People moving to France may also choose to rent a property instead of buying one. Properties are usually rented out on a monthly basis with the possibility to extend the term for longer periods. The average housing price in France varies between 450 to 1500 EUR per month. Do keep in mind, however, that the rates could be very different depending on size, location as well as the property type you select. It is in your own interest to take a look at various options before signing a lease agreement. If you rent a property in an apartment building or in a government-subsidised housing complex, the monthly rent will most likely include utility bills.
In addition to the information on this page, visit our other pages for more information:
- Education in France: Everything about the different schools, education etc.
- Working in France: Are you an expat and you move your work? Read here all about working cultures, finding a job, etc.
- Healthcare in France: Learn about health requirements when moving to France
Is France’s beautiful cities convincing you to move there? We compare the best services for your move. All you have to do here is to fill in the quote form. This will only take a few minutes and you can receive up to 5 quotes from moving companies that specialise in removals to Canada. This way you save soon up to 40% extra on your moving costs