Guide to shipping your belongings from the US to France

Guide to shipping your belongings from the US to France

woman writing her plan before shipping her belongings

For most people, even domestic shipping for an intrastate move can be quite a challenging task. Shipping overseas, then, seems to fill many people with dread. No wonder, as it brings with itself many processes, from navigating customs to adhering to regulations. However, as with everything, researching the topic of international shipping will shed light on the practice. Hence, you’ll see that shipping your belongings from the US to France can be a worry-free experience. So, grab your pen and paper and read the guide we’ve put together to help you set up your first shipping adventure.

Make a plan and stick to it

As with any complicated operation, the first thing you need to do is make a detailed plan. This will help you organize your mind, as you will break the process into smaller tasks. In a lot of ways, shipping your belongings is a lot like a regular move preparation. Except, there are some extra procedures you need to be mindful of as well. The best way to start your list is by writing down the details of your shipment – the type of goods, weight, the date of shipment etc. This way, you’ll have a starting point and can then go on to organize the rest of the process.

Don't forget about the costs

A vital part of planning is estimating the final costs as well. After all, you want to avoid impacting your bottom line, right? So, it’s good to have at least a vague idea of what the final bill includes. Keep in mind, however, that this is a multilayered industry so the pricing standard can vary greatly. So, whether you’re transferring business products or moving to France, costs will depend on numerous factors. Other than the obvious ones such as the total weight, let’s take a look at other costs you need to account for when shipping your belongings:

  • Import and export taxes
  • Insurance
  • Terminal or port charges
  • Packaging charges
  • Hiring a customs broker
a boat shipping freight containers

Pick shipping method

Speaking of prices, the shipping method is another important factor that influences the final bill. When shipping goods internationally, you have two options to choose from – either sea or air freight. Both of these are excellent shipping solutions you can rely on, but which one is more cost-effective or suitable for the type of goods you’re transferring? It’s best to outline their pros and cons and then choose the one that fits your needs.

When we look at sea or ocean freight, it’s definitely the cheaper alternative. Using a container ship also allows for a large capacity, enabling a lot more space for heavy equipment like vehicles or other bulky items. The only setback can be the fact that the goods will arrive much slower compared to air freight. Of course, if you’re not in a hurry then it’s a perfect option which will also save you a bundle. On the other hand, air freight is a faster yet more expensive option. This is a much-preferred method of shipping to France from the US when the goods must reach their destination as soon as possible. Of course, the safety factors regarding air freight dictate some restrictions in terms of carrying capacity and a list of prohibited items.

freight containers

Find a reliable shipping company

Once you know what shipping method is the best solution for your goods, you can set out in search of a trustworthy company that will carry out the task. Nowadays, this part of the process has become quite simple, as Google seems to be everyone’s best friend. Still, going with the first search result can get you into trouble, as there are many fraudulent movers online. With this in mind, you should inspect the websites in a bit more detail. For example, look at their online presence – social media accounts or, even better, read the reviews. After all, you can never be too careful when shipping your belongings from the US to France, especially if they are valuable or breakable. In fact, if you hire a reliable transportation company like, they will carry out the task without you even lifting a finger.

Adhere to the French customs

Hire a customs broker

Now, here’s where you’ll need to use all that research you’ve previously done on this subject. Seeing as you’re transporting your goods to a different country, their rules and regulations aren’t necessarily the same as in the US. So, if you already know the rules of art handling in the US, keep in mind they might not be the same in Europe. So, in order to get your shipment through French customs without any major hiccups, meeting those requirements is a must. The first step towards this goal is to list all the items you’re bringing to France. In other words, you’ll have to create an inventory list for the customs officials to inspect. Unless you’re already living in France, you’ll want to obtain a Certificate of Change of Residence which will simplify the process greatly. Namely, if you get this document from the French Consulate, it will serve as a guarantee that you’ve lived outside of France in the past year. This means you’ll avoid paying duty on your goods. When it comes to the rest of the daunting customs process, you can always get professional as a guide.

If you have no time to become more familiar with the process, you can still make sure everything’s in order. When it comes to large and important shipments, it’s best not to try your luck by going the DIY route. Hence, you might want to seek professional help from a customs broker. They will not only have the experience in this domain but will also help you speed the process. Whether it’s filling out paperwork or unexpected delays, they’ll know how to handle every complication along the way.

This way, you can rest assured the country-specific rules will all be met and there won’t be problems with the entry procedure. In the end, shipping your belongings from the US to France can prove to be a quite stress-free process.

Author bio: Martha Jones is an experienced SEO blogger working with numerous moving and transportation companies. She writes articles with the goal of helping clients gain deeper insight into the industry. You can find her advice on moving on her Instagram and Facebook pages.