French customs simplifies importing

Mon 7th Dec 2009

French Customs have recently introduced changes to Customs Import Declaration (SAD) which is part of earlier reforms on French VAT registration requirements for foreign importers.

In September 2006, the French VAT authorities introduced an additional reverse charge derogation to help stem the colossal losses arising from VAT frauds. This change eliminated most of the scenarios where a non-resident trader would have to register for VAT in France – instead requiring the French VAT registered customer to account for any VAT.

This 2006 change was also intended to include foreign importers who had previously been required to VAT register to clear goods through French Customs. Instead of VAT registering, the importer would instead appoint a local fiscal representative who would declare the importation under their tax identification number. However, at the time, there seemed to be much confusion on this between the VAT and Customs offices.

The French Customs have now modified their standard import declaration form to allow foreign importers of goods into France clearance without a French VAT or SIRET number. This means there is no requirement to VAT register for importing alone.