8 Things to Consider Before You Move to France

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8 Things to Consider Before You Move to France


8 Things to Consider Before You Move to France Image

With its rich culture, engrossing history and c’est la vie attitude, France is one of the most popular destinations for Brits looking for a new home abroad. Before taking the plunge, it’s best to have as much insider knowledge to hand as possible, to avoid committing too many faux pas. At Chappell’s we’re happy to help with our 8 things to consider before moving to France.


  1. Moving your belongings to France

Moving from home is such a big task in itself – never mind moving country – so it’s a good idea to take the stress and strain out of the process at every opportunity. For this, you’ll be best served by professional movers. We recommend contacting a reputable removals company that specialises in European shipping.

Whether you decide on the busy cosmopolitan life in Paris or Lyon or go for the rustic charms of the Alps, we recommend choosing a removals firm with consistently good reviews, a comprehensive service (including packing) and a history of continental shipping. Your removals firm, after all, is your partner come moving day and they need to be the best, as they will be trusted with all your worldly possessions.


  1. Customs

Compared to countries like Spain, France has relatively few prohibitions on specific goods. There are, however, these three that are worthy of mention:

  • Counterfeit goods
  • The fur of cats and dogs
  • The skin of cats and dogs and any product containing these

On entering France, you must declare values of 10,000 euros or more. If you’re travelling via the Channel Tunnel, make sure you choose the red channel rather than the green one. The red channel will allow you to declare your items to customs.



  1. Taking your vehicle to France

For most people, it’s easiest to sell your British-registered car and buy a new vehicle in France. It’s worth considering, not just because of the extra paperwork, but because the steering wheel will be on the ‘right’ side – by which we mean, the left-hand side of the vehicle. Also, the headlights will be designed for driving on the right. However, if you can’t part with your motor for whatever reason, you’ll need to know the law about taking it with you to France.

For non-residents, you must register your car in France and purchase french number plates after six months of arriving. If you’re a resident, this increases to one year, after which you’ll have to register your car.

Firstly, you’ll need to contact the DVLA in the UK to inform them you intend to permanently export your vehicle. You can then arrange a Certificate of Conformity that confirms your car is safe for french roads. This is simple if you have a car of French origin, but can prove difficult with other cars, especially unique cars. After this, you can acquire a Côntrole Technique, which is a french MOT. The mechanics will certainly need to change your headlights for driving on the right side of the road. Once you register your newly tested vehicle, you can accept you carte grise, which means you can affix french number plates to the front and rear.


  1. Relocating domestic pets to France

Moving your pet with you is no longer the hassle it once was. Nowadays, all you will need for free passage of your pup, puss or other pet, are:

  • Microchip
  • Proof of rabies vaccination
  • Pet passport
  • Proof of tapeworm treatment (canines only)

Your local vet will be indispensable in securing all of the above, and it may also be the best place to purchase an authorised carrier so that you are guaranteed your pet is allowed on your chosen method of transport.


  1. Visas and Brexit

At the time of posting (Sept 2017), British citizens do not require a visa to live or work in France. However, with the Brexit negotiations (Britain’s exit from the European Union) still ongoing, the current visa status could change within the next few years. On the one hand, there could be tighter restrictions in place after a deal is struck, and on the other, it is likely that France and the UK will mutually agree to a system that’s similar to the current one. We highly recommend you keep up to date with the latest developments to stay ahead of the curve.


  1. Language

It’s not just good manners to use French in the workplace while in France, it’s the law. French is, of course, the official language, but the French have a history of pride when it comes to their parlance. Because of this, compared to other EU countries, France has relatively few English speakers. In the capital, you may get away with an Anglophone existence, but you will be doing yourself a favour – wherever you live – if you take some basic french lessons. While you are learning, you can always rely on ‘Parlez-vous Anglais?’ (Do you speak English?), to get a conversation started.


  1. Renting or buying a home?

Think about how long you intend to make France your home. It’s a bureaucratic country with lots of paperwork to sign, ratify and file before you purchase a property. If you are going to rent, the good news is that the majority of France has cheaper monthly rates than Britain. A 2 bedroom flat in a major city averages 750 EUR per month. In the outer suburbs, a 3 bedroom home can be had for 1000 EUR. If you are intent on buying, France is famous for its renovation opportunities found in the rural idylls.


  1. Daily Routines

So, first thing’s first. The pace of life in France is often described as ‘comfortable’, even in the city. To illustrate this, Brits usually point to the cafe culture. Whereas in the UK, you’ll be forgiven – in fact, encouraged – to take your morning’s coffee away in a dull cardboard cup, in France, you will rarely see takeaway coffee. The laid back culture demands that even coffee, your daily perk, is a sit-down affair and preferably with friends or work colleagues.

Zooming out from this example, the French often enjoy 2-hour lunch breaks where every shop, business and commercial outlet closes to allow for a quality lunch to be taken. On that note, quality over quantity is a common theme in France and this applies to everything from bread and beer to home decor. Other than these aesthetic values, France is very much a Western country with the typical signs of globalisation. The average Brit will enjoy the subtle changes listed above and can certainly learn a thing or two from the French lifestyle.

For more information about moving to France, see the gov.uk site, or to learn more about Chappell’s Removals premier European moving service, head to our dedicated page.

Chappell's Removals is the premier commercial and domestic removals provider for Weybridge, Woking and throughout Surrey. For the past 40 years, Chappell’s have helped innumerable families and businesses to relocate to France with a timely, thorough and conscientious service. We take care of packing, loading and arranging shipment for all your belongings straight to your door in the EU country and region of your choice. For any more information, contact our team today.

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