Coming to France with tools after Brexit

I’m a part owner of a property in France that until this month had been rented out for many years, the tenants have now left and I need to go over (when permitted) to carry out a substantial amount of essential maintenance and renovations as the the house will be used as a family holiday home going forward. I can’t seem to find out any information on how I can bring my tools over so that I can do the work. Some places say that I have to have a carnet but that seems to be for businesses carrying out trade and costs £326 per carnet. I can list all the tools nearer the time but I no longer have the purchase invoices to prove ownership in the UK as most are many, many years old. Anybody have any idea what the actual situation is with this?
I did try UK HM Customs but surprise, surprise they are no help at all!

With the disclaimer that I know little about customs, excise and duty which is a complex subject you should be OK as they (especially if obviously old) come under personal effects and are not commercial goods.

Provided you owned them before Brexit you’ll be ok. Also all eyes are on stamping UK passports and covid test results. Relatives came over yesterday with his van filled to the top with his tools and other possessions, they showed no interest at all. Tunnel crossing.

Hi Lawrence and welcome to Survive France.

As Paul said, if they are all obviously personal effects you should be ok. However, if you’re inspected, the customs team will decide if your personal effects are truly personal and not the quantity and type of things that may mark you out as a professional tradesman. However, you may not be inspected at all…

If it were me, I’d arm myself with as much evidence as possible that the tools are needed for work on my property - do you have photos of the elements that need to be repaired?

Thanks all for the replies. I may be panicking needlessly but just didn’t want to turn up at Douanes and get slapped with a load of TVA to be paid and conversely when arriving back in the UK and getting charged with VAT on my own stuff. This all came to light when I enquired about returning an armchair (from a lounge set of 2 settees and armchair) to France to re-join the settees that are over there, it’s a long story but we have half a house of furniture in storage from when the property was vacated and we moved back to the UK. The other half was shipped and have now been told that we will have to pay TVA on used furniture on entering France as we are not moving over permanently therefore no exemption to TVA.

Also, I have some expensive hi-fi that wasn’t shipped back when we moved because there would have been nowhere to put it so it’s being carefully looked after by some friends and wanted to bring it back after the repairs trip, I contacted Customs and Excise here as I couldn’t find any obvious case about what or any forms I would need to fill in and was told that if stopped at customs I would have to pay full VAT on their estimated value of the equipment. They were not interested in the fact that the stuff was purchased in the UK 14 years ago and shipped directly to France (UK VAT paid at the time) and still looks brand new. After all this time the only thing I’ve found is the confirmation emails from the company I purchased from and an email confirming that kit had been delivered to the shippers, invoiced long gone of course and no values or details mentioned on the emails

Fortunately you wont meet that customs and excise man at the border. Whilst they have the right to play hardball they are looking for smugglers not genuine people so anything that shows you owned it prior to brexit date would, as, at that time no duty was payable surfice.

Please amend your user name to include your full real name as per our T&C - many thanks!

Hi, I’d be really interested to hear what your experience with this was in the end…
We are sending some of our staff out to France to install a kitchen next month and I am curious to find out whether we will require a carnet for our tools.
How did you get on?

Goodness, how are you managing that?? With French labour law rules?

1 Like

You’ve sorted out the work permits & necessary visas then?


Had no problem in the end. Had to take loads of tools to do the work on my daughters house. Nothing checked going in through Caen, just showed all the require Covid paperwork and we were on our way in about 15 mins after driving off the boat. Also had no problem returning through Portsmouth with my expensive speakers that had been stored in France since we left in 2019, it took a lot longer in Portsmouth as they were searching about 1 in 3 cars so about 45 mins to get out of the docks after driving off the boat. As far as I could tell folks in a van had no trouble but it was obviously a privately owned un-signwritten one.

Yes, that’s my whole other headache - currently trying to get an answer on work permits from the French Consulate in London……

Good luck.

I reckon you’ll need the carnet though.

Yes, that’s my whole other headache - currently trying to get an answer on work permits from the French Consulate in London……

1 Like

Yes, that’s what I suspected re the carnet. Thank you :blush: