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Formalities for intra-Community trade

Trade to / from France within the European Union does not involve border formalities. However, you must complete an Intrastat Declaration.


Your trade inside the European Union is mostly unregulated and does not involve border formalities or inspections. You are not required to file a customs declaration. However, in case of arrival, in France, of goods coming from another Member State, or of dispatch of goods from France to another Member State, you must complete a monthly Intrastat Declaration for trade in goods, named « DEB » for « déclaration d’échange de biens entre États membres de la Communauté européenne » covering all of your intra-Community trade.

Why? Because French administration continues to fulfil two functions:

  • compiling foreign trade statistics;
  • monitoring compliance with VAT rules in intra-Community goods trade.

The goods trade declaration enables you to fulfil all of your obligations related to these two functions easily with one form.

IMPORTANT! In addition to the DEB, special rules must be taken into account for intra-Community trade in certain goods.

These goods include:

  • products subject to excise tax, such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and petroleum products, which are covered by special rules because of the substantial tax revenues involved and the critical nature of these economic sectors;
  • some specific sensitive products, which are still subject to special control measures and, consequently, to restrictions on trade inside the European Union. The products concerned include weapons, ammunition, explosives, military equipment, dual-use goods (with civilian and military uses), narcotics and psychotropic drugs, waste products, medicines, plant and animal products and objects of cultural interest.
IMPORTANT! These formalities (DEB + special rules concerning certain goods) do not release you from your obligations with regard to VAT, such as filing turnover returns and paying the tax. VAT on intra-Community trade is collected in the same way as domestic VAT, which means you need to contact your tax service for information.

The Intrastat Declaration for trade in goods (DEB)

Each month, you are required to fill out the Intrastat declaration (DEB) covering your intra-Community trade in goods with other Member States of the European Union and file it with customs.

What do you need to report?

Your goods trade declaration must report all trade in European Union goods (or goods from countries outside the EU on which duties and taxes have been paid) between France and another Member State, including:

  • intra-Community trade in products subject to excise tax;
  • goods imported to France on which duties and taxes have been paid and which are dispatched to another Member State (declaration of dispatch to the other Member State);
  • EU goods dispatched from France to another Member State from which they are then exported.

You are not required to report:

  • trade between Member States in third-country goods under the external transit regime(use of a single administrative document as a customs declaration);
  • trade with territories that are not included in the « Community-wide single market  (French overseas départements1, the Canary Islands, the Channel Islands, Mount Athos, etc.);
  • goods that would be eligible for temporary admission if they were imported (dispatches or arrivals of goods for fairs, exhibits, testing, analysis, etc.);
  • retail sales to foreigners with delivery in France (taxed in France);
  • free samples, etc.

1 The overseas departments are: French Guyana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion Island and Mayotte.

Who needs to file the declaration?

You must file the goods trade declaration if you are subject to VAT and you engage in intra- Community trade.
The filing requirement applies to all taxable persons engaging in trade between France and another Member State, who are established, identified or represented in France.
Non-taxable legal persons such as national authorities or other bodies governed by public law, are sometimes obliged to act as taxable person and to get a VAT number. In this case they are also in the scope of the DEB.
Societies established in a third country or in another Member State, which have a VAT number in France for intra-community supplies/acquisitions, are also in the scope of the DEB.

The following are exempted from filing declarations:

  • private individuals;
  • for arrivals, operators whose arrivals/purchases are less than €460 000 per calendar year (not per transaction).

If you are subject to the filing requirement, you may delegate a third party to fill out the declaration, but you are still responsible for the data provided. You must explicitly appoint the third-party filer.
The declaration must always include your identification information.
Your filing number is your VAT number (the letters FR, a two-digit computer code and your ninedigit SIREN number).
Your tax service will issue your filing number.

What is the best way to file your declaration?

Customs makes filing your goods trade declaration easier with a free and effective online service:

It lets you fill out, correct and file your declarations.

IMPORTANT! You must register at the Douane.gouv portal for access to the online service, by clicking on the « Inscription » menu.

Once registered, you have the possibility to fill the declaration as a provider of statistical information (PSI) or on behalf of PSI's.
With « DEB on Douane », you can fill the declaration using online data input form or by directly uploading files containing declarations.
Online filing of your declarations provides the added security of an acknowledgment of receipt sent to your e-mail address.

Paper declarations

A taxable person is allowed to use the paper forms cerfa 10838, only if its arrivals and its dispatches are below an annual threshold of €2 300 000 (amount of the goods free of tax). If a declaration runs to several pages, you should use as many forms as necessary.

What are the reporting obligation levels?

Required data depend on the amount of your arrivals and dispatches from 1 January through 31 December of the previous year:

  • Threshold: Beyond €460 000
  • Dispatches: Detailed declaration
  • Threshold: Below €460 000
  • Dispatches: Simplified declaration

For dispatch only, in addition to the VAT number of the taxable person who fills the DEB, the flow and the reference period, the simplified declaration indicate:

  • statistical procedure,
  • the tax value,
  • the VAT number of the acquirer.

For both flow, in addition to the VAT number of the taxable person who fills the DEB, the flow (arrival or dispatch) and the reference period, detailed declaration must indicate:

  • statistical procedure,
  • the eight-digit code of the Combined Nomenclature,
  • the partner Member State,
  • the value of the goods,
  • the quantity of the goods,
  • the nature of transaction,
  • the region of origin (on dispatch) or of destination (on arrival),
  • the mode of transport,
  • only on arrival: the country of origin,
  • only on dispatch: the VAT number of the acquirer

If your arrivals or dispatches increase during the course of the year and exceed a threshold amount, the reporting obligation level shall change as of the month in which the threshold was exceeded.

A new business does not need to file a declaration, as long as its cumulative arrivals are under €460 000. Once this threshold is reached however, the business must file.

For dispatches, you must file a goods trade declaration starting with the very first transaction, whatever the amount.

When do you need to file?

Customs must receive Intrastat declarations (DEB) by the tenth working day after the end of the reference month (see the calendar).
As a general rule, the reference period is the calendar month in which the VAT became due on intra-Community acquisition of goods.

Where do you need to send your declaration?

You need to send your declaration to your inter-regional data entry centre (CISD) only if you use paper forms. However, feel free to contact your CISD if you need any help concerning the use of the online service « DEB ».


Technical assistance "DEB sur Douane", please contact: