International & Domestic Moving, Moving to Australia

Moving to France

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Ready to move?

We here at Restore Harrow Green understand that moving abroad can be as daunting as it is exciting and our aim is to help you move into your new life with none of the stress and only the excitement to look forward to.  

We realise that choosing the right relocation partner is important to you, because you expect the best possible service when entrusting us with your personal effects, which is what we strive to deliver. From the very first moment you contact us, your needs are our utmost concern.

France is one of the most popular destinations for British expats with the advantage of being very close to the UK. Having the biggest land mass in the EU, France offers a variety of geographical locations, each with its own customs, character and pace. Depending on what you want, France can offer anything from a fast, cosmopolitan lifestyle to a slow rural existence. However, what are the main things to look out for before packing up and moving to France, and how will moving improve the quality of your life?

Will you be working?

Moving to France is very straight forward if you hold an EU passport. Whereas in the past all expats had to register with their local town hall within three months of moving to France, this requirement is no longer valid for EU citizens that are employed, studying or have a regular monthly income of over EUR 500. For over 65s the amount goes up to EUR 800 per person. 

There are currently over 150,000 British citizens living in France and though there’s going to be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in France while the UK is still in the EU, these conditions might change if the UK proceeds with a departure, so check the government site first if you’re considering the move imminently. 

As far as tax is concerned your first action should be to inform HMRC of your departure date and fill out a P85 so that you’re paying the right type/level of tax as non-UK or French resident. This is not mandatory but it will help determine where you pay tax and on what as the French tax system can be complicated.

You’re liable to pay taxes in France if France is your main place of residence, your most substantial assets are in France or if your spouse and children are residents even though you might be living somewhere else for more than 183 days a year.  

It’s worth noting that your taxability status starts the day after your arrival in France so you must register with the French tax authorities and fully declare your worldwide income, capital gains and wealth. 

Quality of life:

If you’re a foodie, there’s no better place to move to than France. Food and drink are cherished there as much of the country is dedicated to vineyards and farming; France is in fact known as the mother of cheese with over 400 types being produced throughout the country. In fact you should find out when market day in your area and go shopping for local produce, meat and fish as well as charcuterie and even clothes.  

One of the greatest perks in France are the long lunch breaks which can typically last for two hours. Feel free to spend it at your local restaurant enjoying their delicious specialties with a bit of house wine or go home and feast of the goodies you bought at the market. 

If you’re looking to buy a property you’ll be happy to hear that house prices and property tax are lower in France than they are in the UK, especially if you aim for the country side rather than the big cities. The same rule applies to rent, eating out and other forms of entertainment. 

If you wish to integrate successfully it is advisable to learn the language, especially if you’ll be looking to work, as most companies require an adequate level of fluency as well as familiarity with local events and history.


For the time being British Citizens can apply for European Health Insurance Card which enables them to access state provided healthcare, which comes to about 70% of the cost of your medical bill.

Most expats supplement their EHIC with private health insurance, some form of which is mandatory and which covers the excess of large medical bills and provides access to a wider range of treatments.

Depending on your age and financial situation, i.e. whether you’ll be making national insurance contributions, you should be able to apply for national healthcare cover, known as Protection Maladie Universelle. However, cover is not complete and it is advisable to take out additional health insurance, as mentioned, which you can do after registering for PUMA. If you’re not eligible for PUMA, you’ll need to take out full health insurance. Fortunately the French healthcare system is one of the top ranking systems with the WHO so you can be assured that you’re in safe hands. 

You are encouraged to register with a doctor and dentist near where you live as soon as you arrive. This doctor will fully oversee your medical care and manage your medical records. Friends or neighbours will know the best doctors in your area so ask for suggestions or check government sites online for recommendations.

Things worth noting:

  • To open a bank account in France, you need to show up with your passport as well as proof of address (in France) and your card and possibly cheque book will be sent to you in a matter of days.  
  • Home insurance for fire, theft, water damage and even explosion is mandatory by law in France so if you’re renting expect your landlord to ask for proof of this or they have a right to refuse you to stay or even evict you so make sure to apply for it. 
  • If you have children of school age, make sure to do your homework in terms of the school you’d like them to attend, as school registration is limited to the your catchment area of your new home. France is also home to a variety of International schools so ask your children what they’d prefer and come up with a plan as a family if it’s in your budget.
  • Rubbish collection and recycling rules vary between areas so make sure you check with your neighbours for what items can be thrown into the bins collected by the council as you might be disappointed to find your items were not collected. In most rural areas household waste collection is not provided to individual properties but is done via communal collection points scattered around the village so be prepared for this when you move. Larger items and non-household waste need to be taken to a recycling centre; unfortunately not all villages provide these so look for them in nearby areas.

We’re here to help:

For a quote, we offer the option of visiting your home for a face to face meeting, or if you wish, you can arrange a video survey at a time that suits you, in order to receive your cost estimate.

Once you’ve selected us, you’ll be assigned with your dedicated move manager who will discuss your options and together you can build a customised plan to best suit your relocation needs. This will include insurance requirements, storage needs as well as anything else you might require. 
As the move approaches, your move manager will go through every detail of the job with you, from packing advice, delivery estimates and customs regulations that you will need to take into consideration. They will guide and support you every step of the way.  
On the day of your move we will arrive at your property where we will export wrap and pack your effects, load them into your selected size of container before transferring them to the port where they will be kept until the scheduled transportation date.  

When transporting your items by sea we use secure steel containers which come in two universal sizes of 20ft or 40ft, however, you have the option of choosing your preferred method from the following, depending on your budget:

•   Full container load - uses the whole of a container and gives you the security that your items have been packed and sealed within the UK.
•    Loose groupage - allocates you a space within a container which is shared with other Harrow Green customers moving to the same location. All your items are individually catalogued and labelled for tracking at any point during the move. This is a cost effective shipping solution for small to medium sized requirements. 
•     Cased groupage - your items are placed within a timber case which is then shipped with other grouped consignments. This is another cost effective option with an added layer of security.
•    Consolidated airfreight - the equivalent of part load consignments, this is ideal for smaller shipments, and provides a cost effective solution. This method is preferred when you don’t have a lot of belongings to transport or are taking your most essential effects to your new home. This method can accommodate up to 500 lbs worth of items and has a quicker transit time.

How long will it all take and what do I need to do?

The average time for your consignment to arrive in France will range from 3-5 weeks depending on the method you choose.

Items moving from one European county to another have few customs restrictions but if in doubt this FIDI guide as well as the Customs website can help. Once your items arrive our local agent will help you navigate Customs clearance and our network of trusted and vetted French partners will help you complete your relocation by delivering and unpacking your effects on your agreed date. Your move manager will be able to advise you and answer all your questions. 

If you require assistance finding a new home, school or other issues relating to your move, we can help make your transition even easier with our Destination or Relocation management services.