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Company Formation France



Import and Export in/from France

Updated on Wednesday 07th October 2020

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Import-and-export-in-from-France.jpegSince 1995 when it adhered to the World Trade Organization (WTO), France became one of the most important players in the EU market. Now, France is the second largest importer and exporter after Germany at European level. The latest Economic Complexity Index places France on the 6th position in the world when it comes to exports and the 13th when it comes to economic complexity. Also, thanks to its geographical position which grants easy access to Europe and Africa, France has become a preferred destination for foreign investors setting up businesses in the import/export industry.
Our French company formation agents can assist you if you want to set up a trading company here. If you need more information on import and export in France, you can rely on us for information on the procedures.

Imports and exports in the French economy

France is one of the most important importers and exporters in Europe and the European Union, trading representing one of the main contributors to the economy.
The French economy relies on the export of various commodities, pharmaceutical products and auto vehicles, and the country is currently the second largest trader in the European Union being surpassed by Germany. Before Brexit, the France was alongside the United Kingdom one of the top traders in the EU.
At a global level, France is one of the most important traders when it comes services and various food products and beverages, among which cheese and wine are the most renowned. Its most important trading partners are Germany, Spain and Italy in the EU. The UK is its most important partner outside the EU at this moment.
Agriculture is one of the main industries when it comes to import and export in France, as nearly 25% of EU’s products are grown here. Moreover, agriculture contributes with approximately 2.5% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
If you need information on how to import in France, our local agents can offer more information on the procedures. You can also rely on us if you want to open a trading business in France.
Our company formation agents in France are at your service with various services related to setting up a business here.

Top imports and exports in France

France is currently one of the largest exporters of spacecraft in the world. The export of helicopters and planes rose to 43,8 billion USD during the last two years in France, thanks to the innovation industry which is developing fast. France also leads in the export of machine equipment and auto vehicles. During the last several years, the pharmaceutical industry has become quite visible in the economy, generating an annual income of nearly 25,7 billion USD. Today, France’s exports are mainly made of:
  • - spacecraft;
  • - machinery and equipment;
  • - automobiles;
  • - pharmaceuticals.
When it comes to imports, the most imported products are crude petroleum and vehicles. French companies usually import IT products, such as computers and computer spare parts and packaged medicines.  France’s main import and export partners are European countries, such as Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Benelux (Belgium and Luxembourg) and the United Kingdom, while outside Europe, the United States and China are major trading partners.

Importing and exporting goods in France

Import and export procedures in France are regulated by the customs authorities. Foreign companies exporting products to France are required to file several documents with the Customs, among which two declarations: the maritime manifest and the SAD (single administrative document) file. French companies will need a VAT number which will also serve as an EORI number in order to their products.

Import procedures in France

Those who want to import in France must complete various procedures, no matter the goods they want to bring here. The first one is to register a company with the Companies House and then with the tax office in order to obtain a VAT number. Based on VAT registration the company will be issued an EORI number which will enable it to bring various goods from EU countries under simplified procedures.
There are several rules that apply to certain goods that apply under the Integrated Tariff of the European Communities (TARIC code).  Also, when it comes to imports from outside the EU, additional steps and documents must be provided with the Customs.
In order to import in France, a company must obtain an import license. The permit must be obtained once and then can be used for every operation with the Customs. However, the documents accompanying the merchandise entering the country must be completed every time.
The following documents must be submitted upon the import of goods in France:
  1. the Customs Entry file which can be prepared by the importer or by a broker;
  2. the Customs declarations where clearance for some goods is required;
  3. the import license and the insurance certificate of the company;
  4. the Inspection Certificate which is required in certain cases (most of the times when the goods are brought from non-EU countries);
  5. the purchase order, letter of credit or commercial invoice, and the weight certificate which must attest to the quantity/number of goods;
  6. the certificate of origin and analysis, if applicable.
Special documents such as health, phytosanitary, dangerous goods and product specification certificates are also required in case of certain goods that are meant for import in France.
If you want to import goods into France and need assistance, our agents can advise you.

Export in France

Just like in the case of import, when it comes to export in France, similar procedures are available. The company registration procedure must also be completed, as well as obtaining a VAT and EORI number in order to be able to send goods to foreign clients.
In terms of documents to prepare for export in France, invoices and various certificates must be provided to the client to present upon arrival in his/her country of origin.
It is a common fact for French companies to enter import/export activities, therefore, import or export are not treated as singular operations.

France’s main import and export partners

When it comes to import and export in France, there are plenty of states in and outside the EU with which the country has partnerships with. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), among these are:
  • - Germany which is France’s top trading partner in the EU with a percentage of 13.9%;
  • - Italy and Benelux are the second most important trading partners in the EU with a percentage of 7.61% each;
  • - Spain is the third most important trading partner with a share of 7.58%;
  • - in Asia, China is France’s main trading partner with a percentage 4.36%;
  • - the USA is another large trading partner of France with a percentage of 7.96%;
  • - due to exit the EU, the UK remains one of France’s greatest import/export partner in Europe with a percentage of 6.76%.
For full information on EORI registration for import and export purposes, please contact our company registration representatives in France.


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Call us now at +33 9 73 22 01 51 to set up an appointment with our lawyers in Paris, France. Alternatively you can incorporate your company without traveling to France.

As a BridgeWest client, you will beneficiate from the joint expertize of local lawyers and international consultants. Together we will be able to offer you the specialized help you require for your business start-up in France.



Starting a company in France can be difficult since it involves such complex procedures. The team from CompanyFormationFrance is very qualified and benefits from extensive expertise in this area.
Mihai Cuc, Partner of
Enescu & Cuc Law Firm
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