Shipping to France from UK – FAQS on customs, costs and delivery times

shipping to France

For companies exporting to or importing from France, the rules for international shipping changed when the UK left the EU.

As a freight forwarder to the French market since 1989, International Forwarding (IFL) has navigated changing rules, country specific restrictions, and worked with customs authorities to provide reliable customs clearance services.

Here we answer some of your most common questions around shipping freight to France from the UK.


Do I need customs forms for France?

Yes. Customs declarations are now required for all goods entering or leaving the UK. If you’re responsible for making UK customs declarations, you need an Economic Operators Registration and Identification (EORI) number, obtainable from HM Revenue & Customs. 

For convenience, you can hire a freight forwarder, such as ourselves, to deal with customs and transport the goods for you to EU destinations. Or you can do it yourself.

>> Read about our customs clearance services

Exporting to France from UK – customs requirements

You need to include a commercial invoice and packing list with your export documents. For successful delivery, this must travel with the goods, along with any relevant licences or certificates.

A preferential trade agreement between the UK and the EU for many commodities means your French customer can pay reduced import duty. This only applies if your commercial invoice includes origin details for the goods showing that they comply with the agreement. Read more about proof of origin.

You also need to fill in the value of your goods on the invoice (sale price or market value), and to classify the goods you’re exporting using the right Harmonised System (HS) commodity code. The HMRC’s Trade Tariff tool has an exhaustive list showing HS codes, duty and VAT rates. The VAT rate payable by French importers on goods from the UK is 20% and the duty can vary between 0% (for preferential goods) and 22%. From January 2022, a deferred VAT accounting scheme became available for French importers.

Again, freight forwarders or customs agents may be able to help you with HS codes and advise on the customs requirements for your goods. The can make the declarations and get your goods through the UK border.

>> Get in touch with our experienced advisers for further advice

Importing from France to UK – customs requirements

French customs officer

For import declarations, you need to include the value and the commodity code of the goods being imported – to determine the rate of duty you need to pay and if you need an import licence. As before, you may be able to pay less or no customs duty according to the preferential trade agreement between the UK and the EU for many commodities. 

French exporters to the UK must register for a Registered Exporter (REX) number, which is the equivalent of the UK EORI number.

Most businesses that import goods from France tend to use a freight forwarder or customs agent to transport and make customs declarations.

>> Get in touch with our experienced advisers to discuss your EU import needs

Are there any other documents needed for shipping to France from the UK?

For UK shipments to France, check that the French recipient is able to import them into their country. They may need to make an import declaration in their country, or have a licence/certificate to be a recipient of goods from the UK. The same goes for any business sending goods to the UK from France – they may need to include an export declaration from their country or a licence/certificate with the shipment.

>> UK exporters – check government guidance for rules, restrictions, tax and duties, and other documents you may need

How much does it cost to send a pallet to France?

Picture of the Euro Tunnel entrance

Freight rates have increased post-Brexit mainly as a result of the extra costs of export and import customs formalities. The cost will also depend on the size and weight of the goods, and whether your delivery is sent economy, express or using groupage services.

The IFL sales team provides competitive quotes based upon the best routings, and using customs agents for export and import customs with proven expertise track records.

>> Get in touch to request a quote

How do I calculate the import taxes and duties for shipping to France from the UK?

The IFL customs team can provide this information as long as the exporter has the correct HS commodity code.

Can I get insurance for my shipment to France from the UK?

Yes. All risks goods in transit insurance cover is strongly recommended and we can provide competitive quotations.

>> Read more about goods in transit insurance cover

Can I consolidate my palletised freight with other shipments to reduce costs?

Groupage can reduce costs significantly. Your consignment will be consolidated with others heading to the same country. Essentially, the more flexible you can be on time, the lower the shipping cost. 

>> More information on groupage services

What is the difference between groupage and full-load shipping for palletised freight to France from the UK?

Picture of the ports at Dover

Full loads – aka full truckload (FTL) or full container load (FCL) – fill an entire vehicle or container. They’re an efficient way to transport goods in bulk as you can book a dedicated express vehicle with no need for further collections or drop-offs that may delay your shipment.

Groupage is when your goods are consolidated into a single shipment and sent using scheduled groupage services – which can be a cheaper option if you’re not in a rush. 

>> How we ship to France from the UK

Are there any restrictions on what can be shipped to France from the UK?

Certain goods – from ammunition to medicines to plant products – have special rules and may require an export licence. 

>> Check rules and restrictions

What are the maximum weight and dimensions for palletised freight shipped to France?

The standard UK pallet size is 1m x 1.2m, with various height/weight restrictions to suit your needs. For example, for a full pallet, the maximum height is 2.2m or 1,200kg maximum weight. Note, if using a tail lift, these are restricted to 750kg.

>> Read our guide to UK pallet sizes

What is the process for loading and unloading palletised freight when shipping to France from the UK?

Most of businesses palletise their own freight ready for international transportation. Goods sent by groupage service must be packed to withstand multiple transhipments.

Loading and unloading from trailers is safely conducted by freight forwarders using dock levellers and forklift trucks for stowage and onward transportation. 

>> How to prepare a pallet for shipping

What is the transit time when shipping to France from the UK?

A ship in transit from UK to France

Transit times depend on the destination and shipping option (economy/express, road, sea or air). For example, our road freight estimated transit times vary between 48 hours to northern France and up to three extra working days for destinations in the south. Customs delays can also effect time scales, as can public holidays.

>> Check the calendar for French national holidays

What ways are there to get consignments sent to France?

Your goods can be delivered via road, sea or air. The most common pallet delivery service to France from the UK is overland via Eurotunnel.

Can I track my items while in transit?

Yes. Freight forwarders, such as ourselves, usually offer a full tracking service.

10 benefits of shipping to France with IFL

  1. 48-hour and economy services – we offer delivery options to fit your time and budget.
  2. Deep network coverage across France – we work with a large global French transport and logistics operator with hubs in Paris and Lyon.
  3. Competitive rates – we seek out cost-effective rates based on the best routings.
  4. 30+ years’ experience – our European pallet delivery service has been running since 1989 and we can handle a wide range of commodities.
  5. Safe and reliable – driver-accompanied trailers for added security.
  6. Dedicated vehicle options – full and part loads.
  7. First-class groupage – regular export and import groupage services to/from all parts of France.
  8. Customs clearance – our Dover agent offers a 24-7 service to deal with both French export and import freight under customs control.
  9. Secure storage – we offer a range of warehousing and 3PL services.
  10. Outstanding customer service – our people are knowledgeable, friendly and responsive. We won’t leave you hanging!

>> Find out more about our France service.

Request a quote

For a fast quote get in touch today:


For a fast quote and reliable, cost-effective freight and logistics services:

t: call us
e: email us

Download latest trailer schedule >

Request a quote

To allow us to provide a more accurate quotation, please fill in the form detailing your requirements.

Upon receipt of your enquiry one of our logistics managers will send over your tailored quotation within 1 hour.

Please note: we do not ship personal effects.