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Transportation of personal effects abroad: formalities

Depending on which country you leave and which country you join, the formalities you will have to follow will not be the same.

If you stay in the Schengen area

You will not have to pay customs duties. However, border controls are not excluded. You must ensure that you do not carry dangerous or prohibited goods by customs. In addition, a certificate of change of residence may be required to authorize the transit of your personal effects in customs. This document is obtained from the local authorities or from the French consulate.

If you move out of the Schengen area

Again, a certificate of change of residence may be required. Concerning the transport of your personal effects towards the international one, a franchise can be granted to you if you fulfill the following conditions:
  • residence abroad for more than 12 months;
  • use and possession of property for more than six months prior to transfer of residence.
This deductible allows you to not pay the duties and taxes related to the importation of your goods. Note that goods admitted duty-free can not be assigned, rented or lent during the 12 months following their importation.
In all cases, you will have to provide the customs service with a number of documents to authorize the transport of your goods:
  • an inventory of all your property detailed, estimated, dated and signed, in two copies;
  • any document proving that you reside in a third country;
  • any document proving that you are moving abroad.
In return, the customs service will give you a signed copy of the inventory and a free circulation card, at your request.

Moving abroad: possible solutions


Depending on the quantity of goods to be shipped, the distance between the place of dispatch and the place of reception, some solutions will be more suitable than others when transporting your personal belongings internationally.

By plane

It is the fastest means of transport, but also the most expensive and therefore the most rarely used. It is suitable for all types of shipping, except for goods that are too heavy (several tons) as well as products requiring special precautions, such as dangerous products for example.
The price depends on the weight transported. Count:
  • between € 2,000 and € 3,000 for 100 to 300 kg of goods;
  • between 3,000 and 4,000 € for 300 to 500 kg;
  • between 4,000 and 7,000 € for 500 to 1,000 kg.

To these costs are added the costs of insurance and customs.

By boat

This is the most cost-effective solution for a move abroad,  and it is perfectly suited to bulk mailings. Nevertheless, delivery times are often longer and less reliable than by air.
In terms of fare, the move by sea will cost you between 180 and 250 € per m3 transported for a container in groupage. For a complete container, count 100 to 150 € per m3.

By train
This is one of the least expensive solutions, with the boat. Its strengths: reliable deadlines and assured security. However, it does not allow to deliver everywhere: it is better to check the density of the railway network of your host country before opting for this solution.

As an indication, a move by rail will cost you between € 1,300 and € 2,300 for 30 m3 of furniture and personal effects. The price includes the loading, the transport and the delivery: it varies according to the selected options (protection of the furniture, assembly and disassembly of the furniture, packing of the fragile objects …)

By truck

This means of transport allows you to pick up your belongings directly from your home and deliver them anywhere on the continent, or even beyond if you choose a combined mode truck-train or truck-boat. However, safety is lower than when traveling by train, boat or plane and delays can be extended depending on traffic conditions.

Still indicative, count approximately 800 € to transport 20 m3 of goods over 500 km, and 1 120 € to transport 20 m3 of goods over 700 km.

The cost of transporting your personal belongings internationally  can also increase depending on the destination, the price of gasoline or tolls.