Steps to be followed by professionals in other EU Member States wishing to sell alcohol and/or alcoholic beverages to individuals located in France.
Definition and legal foundation
Distance selling to France
The distance selling transaction must meet all of the following criteria:
- The sale of alcohol and/or alcoholic beverages must be carried out by a professional located in another EU Member State
- The sale must be to an individual located in mainland France
- The excise goods shall already have been released for consumption in the Member State from which the goods are shipped
- French duties and taxes shall be payable upon the arrival of the goods in France
- The goods shall be shipped or transported to France, either directly or indirectly by or on behalf of the seller
- The process is limited to alcoholic beverages. Distance purchasing of manufactured tobacco products are forbidden in both mainland France and its overseas départements.
Applicable rules and regulations
Procedures to complete in France in order to ship excise goods
Obligations of the seller
a) Excise goods must be sold inclusive of all taxes
The seller must invoice the price of the goods + duties and taxes due in France + VAT due in France to its customer. The following sources have information about duties and taxes applicable in France:
- Information about excise duty and other domestic taxes applicable to alcoholic beverages is available (in French only) on French Customs' website www.douane.gouv.fr :
Droits d'accise sur les alcools et boissons alcooliques
b) For payment of excise duty on goods, a tax representative must be designated in France
The seller is liable for excise duty due in France. Under the terms of Article 302 V bis of the French General Tax Code, he or she must designate a tax representative based in France who will pay the excise duty to the French Customs authorities.
Obligations of the tax representative
a) Procedures to complete prior to shipment
The tax representative must complete the following procedures at the Customs and Excise Department with jurisdiction1 in the location where the alcohol or alcoholic beverages are being sent:
- Identification and preliminary declaration
An example of this preliminary declaration is given in Annex VII of the Order of 30 August 2011 (Sheets 1 and 2) :
Preliminary declaration [PDF - 460 Ko]
Among other information, the declaration must include the name and address of the person (or company) who is the tax representative, as well as the name and address of the consignee.
Before beginning his or her activity or in the event of a change in status, the tax representative's declaration must also include one of the following documents: a business permit, a registration certificate (K bis) or proof of identity.
- Deposit2 the duties owed on the transaction (excise duty and other taxes on alcohol and alcoholic beverages, exclusive of VAT) with the competent Regional Customs and Excise Collection Office or the Customs office with which the preliminary declaration was filed.
b) Procedures to complete following the arrival of the goods in France
The tax representative must complete the following procedures at the same Customs and Excise office :
- File a declaration of receipt of goods
A specimen of this declaration of receipt is given in Annex VII of the Order of 30 August 2011 (Sheets 3 and 4) :
Declaration of receipt of goods [PDF - 460 Ko]
- Pay3 the duty upon receipt of the goods to the Customs department where the deposit was made (excise duty + other taxes on alcohol and alcoholic beverages, exclusive of VAT)
c) Procedures to complete in the course of business
Keep accounting records of deliveries of goods and be prepared to present them at the request of French Customs
Other procedures to complete in France
Identification of the seller liable for VAT and payment of VAT
VAT registration requests, filing VAT returns and VAT payments are carried out at the following department :
Service des impôts des entreprises étrangères (SIE)
[Foreign Business Tax Department]
10 rue du Centre
93465 Noisy-le-Grand Cedex
Tel.: + 33 (0)1 57 33 85 00
Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm or by appointment
Companies based in another EU Member State do not need to appoint a tax representative to pay French VAT.
However, to streamline relations with the French authorities, they may appoint a representative, based in France, who will complete procedures on their behalf but under their responsibility. If they decide to do so, they must draw up an authorisation letter and send the original to the SIE. The tax representative appointed to pay excise duty may also serve as a representative with respect to VAT.
Declaration and payment of VAT
The seller or his/her representative in France must, no later than the 19th of the month following the tax period (month, quarter, or seasonal or extraordinary transaction), file a VAT return online and pay the VAT to the SIE.
VAT payments shall be made by cheque, made out to "Trésor Public", or by bank transfer. Online payment of VAT is reserved for companies with a French bank account.
A complete explanation of the steps to follow can be found on the French tax authorities' website :
Drawing up an Exchange of Goods Declaration between EU Member States (Déclaration d'Echanges de Biens – DEB)
The seller must draw up and submit to French Customs a DEB listing all goods brought into the country over the past month.
This declaration must be filed if one of the two following conditions has been met:
- During the previous calendar year, the operator brought in goods whose total value, net of tax, was €460,000 or more. A DEB is required starting in January, and for the rest of the year.
- During the previous calendar year, the operator brought in goods whose total value, net of tax, was less than €460,000, but it exceeds this threshold during the year. A DEB is required starting with the month the threshold is exceeded.
For more information about drawing up and submitting Exchange of Goods Declarations, please refer to French Customs' website : la déclaration d'échanges de biens.
1 French Customs' website lists the contact details for the various Customs and Excise departments with territorial jurisdiction : directory of French Customs departments.
2 For the tax representative, this consists of depositing an amount to guarantee the payment of excise duty.
3 Payment may be made in cash, by cheque, bank transfer and by debit/credit card.
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