Advice on import duty

We have friends who made the move to France in the nick of time arriving on 30th December 2020. They now have their 5 year residency card which wasnt straight forward until their maire produced a letter confirming that they were resident on that date after which Perigueux accepted. They are currently covered by private health insurance while their application for carte vitale is processed. They have bought a French car from the local garage so have now jumped in with both feet as new residents. So far so good.
They have a camping car (currently on UK plates) which they now have insured here as they have proved to the insurance company that they have commenced the immactriculation process which thay have employed an agent to do.
Customs have confirmed that as the camping car was here in France on 30th December and the owners were resident by that same date then a QF is not required. Despite this Perigueux are demanding 20% import tax on the camper van as they say the owners were not tax resident on that day?
The customs have emailed the impot to say tax is not applicable but impot are digging their heals in.
That is a brief resume of the situation, I would welcome any advice on where to go from here.
I should add that the company who are managing the registration in France work on a no win no fee and are currently holding a substantial deposit so is giving them the imputus to succeed. I feel that the situation has entered unchartered waters and the impot are taking the view that if in doubt, charge the tax but they need to be challenged.

I’m stumped… we’re Resident and had to get a Quitus Fiscal from the Douanes (to show VAT had already been paid etc)… for each car/trailer we’ve imported in the last 20 years or so…

I’m thinking someone has got this back to front… before Brexit a Quitus Fiscal WAS necessary…

Did your friends apply to the right Offices… for the QF … within the timeframe???
if not, that could be the problem… (or one of them…)

After Brexit… I’ve no idea…

Strikes me that someone has got a bit muddled.
Can you prove the camper was in France before the end of 2020 ??

EDIT: I think the timeframe for applying for Quitus Fiscal is only 2 weeks after the vehicle arrives in France… any great delay might well cause hiccups/confusion.


Same for me, resident before the end of 2020 and needed a QF before I could proceed with the immatriculation process. Issued by the local tax office (via email due to the Covid lockdown).

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The previous two answers are correct a QF should be required, otherwise how can you prove the tax has been paid elsewhere prior to import?

We too had to get a quitus fiscal to prove that VAT had been paid… I wonder whether they are confusing two things. The customs may be saying that as they were here no tax is due, rather than no quitus fiscal is due. As others have said the only way to show no tax is due to impots is a quitus fiscal…

I’d head down to the tax office toot sweet next week!

I am meeting up with our friends tomorrow and hopefully their situation will be clearer.
Many thanks for the pointers :+1:

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There is a misunderstanding I think - any imported vehicle needs a quitus fiscal.

was it ever thus.
Not a motor vehicle (although it did impact on visits to France) I had an American registered airplane which had the UK equivalent documentation which I was required to keep with the aircraft for inspection on demand.
The same would apply to the very expensive plastic tubs floating around the continent of Europe :wink:
This was asked for many times by the Duane at various airports I visited since they were keen to “collect” duty and TVA on any aircraft that did not have the appropriate documents and they were extremely willing to impound the airplane until so produced!

I have now spoken with our friends and read through the various email exchanges and the current situation is much clearer. As you have all said a QF is required for the immatriculation to progress and in fairness to Perigueux even though they have indicated how much tax is due based on the paperwork they currently have they have also indicated what documents they require to issue a QF.
The current situation has arisen due to our friends literally leaving arrival in France to the last minute.
Impots have looked at their form 2042 which states that on 31st December 2020 the home that is now their primary residence was a second home so based on that they were not residents. Impots have said that a residency CDS will prove otherwise.
It seems to me that the rush to get here JIT is the root of the issue.
Hopefully now that they are able to provide the relevant documents requested by the Impots they may well soon have a french registered camping-car.
I have to say that those people who did get here JIT must have had a baptism of fire with all the paperwork and such, which for those of us who have been here longer has been no less but taken on board at a much more leisurely pace.

You’re right Stella, all five cars I’ve imported, one from Germany. one from Italy, two from the UK and one from Ireland all needed a QF. If one is to avoid TVA (and potentially import duties) you must have a QF IMO. For two of the above I was not tax resident in France. The issue of my tax residenty was never raised by the Impots.

The process for importing a motor vehicle from the UK pre-Brexit did indeed require a QF but now an 846a from your regional Douanes is required.
Your arrival in France with the intention of living here permanently is the criteria for being considered domiciled & not when you have been granted a CdS. Stella is correct in that you should apply for a QF within 15 days of the vehicle’s arrival although in the past this was not strictly enforced by the tax office.
Since Brexit though, some offices have lost patience with the tardiness of importers & are referring them to Douanes anyway while other offices (Angouleme very recently) will still issue one if you can produce proof that the vehicle was actually here in time. A ferry ticket, controle technique or even a speeding ticket have been used successfully.
A common error with imports is that people think that they have 12 months to register an import if they have moved permanently so can take their time, using the vehicle on UK plates. The 12 month time limit actually refers to the time that the vehicle can be imported tax free after the owner has become a french resident, so for example, has moved over, established a new residence but has not had all their goods shipped over. Once the vehicle has actually arrived they should have at least started the registration procedure within a month.
As an aside, older camping cars without a whole vehicle EU certificate of conformity can be a nightmare to register due to the extra certification often required!


Thanks Mark. Let me clarify some points. I agree that ‘The process for importing a motor vehicle from the UK pre-Brexit did indeed require a QF’ and in this case it is a pre brexit import. Form 846a was applied for however the Douanes advised that as it was a per brexit import this form was not required.
The criteria for being granted a Cds is that you intend to live in France permenantly before the cut off date of 31st December 2020. I am fully aware that some people have obtained a Cds ‘perhaps fraudulantly’ but in my friends case this is certainly not the case ie letter of confirmation dated mid december stating they are no longer eligible for NHS treatment, have taken out costly private health insurance while applying for carte vitale etc etc. The impot have asked for a copy of my friends Cds as proof they were resident here before 31st December and as we all know the application process has to include the applicant was resident before 31st December so I have to question your statement ‘Your arrival in France with the intention of living here permanently is the criteria for being considered domiciled & not when you have been granted a CdS.’
The process of importing the camping car admittedly was delayed beyond the suggested 2 week deadline but lockdown and the sheer volume of things to do following their arrival got in the way, the process was started with 1 month. They have already produced evidence of a ferry ticket and now a letter from the maire which confirms they were resident here on 29th December 2020.
The camping car in question is French made but for the UK market and is 2 years old so most certainly not an older camping car.
From my reading of the various correspondence and emails this weekend my understanding is that the impots have not yet closed the door on granting a QF as they asked for a copy of Cds that will prove their residency pre 31st December 2020, we shall see.

I think we’re going through an “unofficial transition” (certainly unadmitted)… while the “Powers That Be” across France figure out how to deal with things when presented with a UK vehicle/whatever …
it seems not every Officer in French Bureaucracy is singing from the same hymn sheet.

It sounds very stressful… for ALL concerned.

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In my experience, they all sing from the same hymn sheet - but in wildly different local accents…


I have received my first CdS last week. I have only lived here for 21 years though, paying taxes & using the health system. As a garagiste part of my business is to register vehicles for customers which I have been doing for some years. New arrivals will not be able to access the ANTS system in their own right as that depends on them being present on the INSEE database & that only happens when either impots or Ameli forward their details & this can take some months. As the time limit for vehicle registration (or at least starting it) is one month new arrivals need to use a third party to act on their behalf. This does not need to be a paid service provider as a resident friend or neighbour can do this too, but there is a danger that the friend might not be very familiar with the procedure & might create more problems.
So a copy of the CdS might help identify the owner as resident but the card is certainly not definitive proof of the vehicle’s date of entry & it is that which determines whether a QF or 846a is required.

English motor caravans/Camping cars, will not get approval to change to french plates, as door is on the wrong side. EG, opens onto motorway. When we had our caravan approved, at Chalon, there were 3 motor caravans parked up. Asked the tester why, and he said, nothing with door on wrong side would be approved. john

France is laïc, so they sing from song sheets…


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: nice one @JaneJones :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Just goes to show how language and idioms etc differ from country to country… and why one can rarely do a direct translation of such things… :wink:

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Yes, the door IS a big problem! So many UK holidaymakers who choose to set up camp on the hard shoulder of a motorway cause issues - their awning & chairs stick out into the slow lane & passing lorries often cause beach balls & inflatable toys to be sucked into the carriageway. A deflated plastic crocodile can block radiators & in extreme cases wrap around windscreens!

Needless to say there are plenty of ex UK camper vans now driving around happily on French plates as the door on the “wrong side” only applies to commercial passenger carrying vehicles.
The DREAL regulations with regard to doors is translated here. As you can see, there is no regulation concerning which side doors have to be positioned.
2. Doors and emergency exits :
2.1. The access door to the living area from the outside shall-
2.1.1. be at least 114 cm high and leave a free passage of at least 6500 cm2 if the overall area of the motorhome is 12 m2 or less.
2.1.2. be at least 159 cm high x 48 cm wide if the overall area of the motorhome is greater than 12m2. motorhome is greater than 12m2.
2.2. The access doors to the cab, the side access door to the living area, the rear door or the tailgate are considered to be satisfactory emergency exits if there are no partitions between the cab and the living area.
In the case where only the side door or the rear door gives access to the living area, an emergency exit door to the living area, an emergency exit on a side not containing the door to the living area shall be provided, failing which the number of seats shall be limited to the number of seats is limited to the number of seats in the driver’s cab. This emergency exit shall have an area of of at least 2500 cm2 , with a minimum dimension of 45 cm.
2.3. The hinges of hinged side doors shall be fixed forward in the direction of travel. In the case of double-leaf doors, this requirement applies to the leaf that opens first; the other leaf must be lockable.
The locks on the vehicle’s original doors, if they have not been modified, are considered to be satisfactory. It is permissible for the door to be opened in two stages (unlocking and opening). External doors shall not open inwards.
2.4.The closing of a side door to which access is facilitated by a step which extends beyond the vehicle’s width shall cause the step to be automatically retracted within the limits of the vehicle’s width. Otherwise, an audible or visual warning system on the dashboard shall indicate that the step has not been folded down.

Hi, I can only speak from experience, and I imagine, as usual,it depends on individual regions, and testers. You have No Chance in 71130, as châlonnais will not pass any Motor Caravan, where you can depart from a door onto motorway. There tests are very stringent, as even my European accepted caravan, had to be tested. I paid 400 euros to get its Carte Gris, as also needed a Gas test.