French VAT rates and VAT compliance

French VAT rates

Whilst France follows the EU rules on VAT compliance, it is still free to set its own standard (upper) VAT rate. The only proviso is that it is above 15%. Suppliers of goods or services VAT registered in France must charge the appropriate VAT rate, and collect the tax for onward payment to the French tax authorities through a VAT filling: see French VAT returns briefing.

The current rates are:

French VAT Rates

Rate Type Which goods or services
20% Standard All other taxable goods and services.
10% Reduced Some foodstuffs; some pharmaceutical products; domestic passenger transport; intra-community and international road (some exceptions) and inland waterways transport; admission to amusement park (with cultural aspect); pay/cable TV; some renovation and repairs of private dwellings; some cleaning in private households; some agricultural supplies; hotel accomodation; restaurants (excluding alcoholic beverages); some domestic waste collection; certain domestic care services; firewood; take away food; bars, cafes and nightclubs; cut flowers and plants for decorative use.
5.5% Reduced Some foodstuffs; water supplies, medical equipment for disabled persons; books (excluding those with pornographic or violent content); e-books; admission to certain cultural events; writers and composers; some social housing; admission to sports events; some domestic care services; cut flowers and plants for food production.
2.1% Reduced Some pharmaceutical products; some newspapers and periodicals; TV licence.
0% Zero Intra-community and international transport (excluding road and inland waterways).

French VAT Compliance

Once registered for French VAT, you will have to start following the local rules in a number of aspects. This includes:

  • Issuing invoices with the disclosure details outlined in the French VAT Act.
  • Electronic invoices with proper signature, authenticity and agreement by the recipient.
  • Maintenance of accounts and records, which must be held for at least 10 years.
  • Correct invoicing of customers for goods or services in accordance with the French time of supply VAT rules.
  • Processing of credit notes and other corrections.
  • Use of approved foreign currency rates.

What is the tax point for French VAT?

The tax point (time of supply) rules in France determine when the VAT is due. For imports, it is the time of importation. For goods, it is considered as the point of transfer of title. Any VAT due should then be declared in the subsequent VAT return. The tax point for French services is when performed, or on an accruals basis as ‘enjoyed’.

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