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Moving to France from UK Checklist

Did you know?

There are more than 176,000 British citizens living  in France!

And they don't limit themselves to Paris and the suburbs. There are British expats living all around France, including the Mediterranean, smaller cities like Bordeaux and Lyon, and even the Dordogne  — or ‘Dordogne Shire’ as it is affectionately known. 

Whether you are relocating to France to work, retire, or study, this guide can help you. It's got lots of easy links to government agencies for French visas and residency cards, international schools in France, real estate information, and our Easy 10 Step Checklist for Moving to France.  

Let's get started!

France with children

Do you need a moving quote? Reach out today!

Our Move Specialists are known for their kind and supportive attitudes. They would love to help make your move to France a success.

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Tips for removals to France from the UK: What you need to Know [FAQ]

Where do British expats live in France?

British expats tend to cluster in certain areas based on whether they are working in France or have moved to France to retire. 

British citizens live in major cities like Paris, Bordeaux and Toulouse, in the countryside of Dordogne and Creuse, and in the beautiful Alpes-Maritimes. 

To visualise where expats in France live, use the yearly outlook on French real estate published by the Notaires de France.

expats in france real estate

Why do UK citizens move to France?

In an study of 53 countries, expats ranked France:

6th for Healthcare
14th for Quality of Life
15th for Environment and Climate
15th for Leisure Options

Overall, 75% of expats in France say they are happy in their new country, compared to the global average of 72%. But they cite bureaucracy and the language as frustrating aspects to living in la belle pais

I'm moving to France with kids. Are there British Schools in France?

The Council of British International Schools formally recognises two British Schools in France: The British School of Paris and Mougins School in the south of France. 

But if you will be living elsewhere, don’t worry. The education system in France – both private and state-funded – is considered to be very high quality. There are many options for British children in France to get a good education. 

French state schools: These are divided by age

  • Écoles maternelles – ages three to six
  • École élémentaire – ages six to 11
  • Collège – ages 11 to 15
  • Lycée – ages 15 to 18
  • Montessori schools

International schools that teach the International Baccalaureate

  • Primary Years Program – ages 3-12
  • Middle Years Program (MYP) – ages 11-16
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (DP) – ages 16-19

The Baccalauréat français international (BFI): Formerly known as the Option International du Baccalaureat (OIB), this program is for students who are fluent in French and want to attend university in France

The European Baccalaureate: A multilingual program for students in S6 and S7 (their last two years of secondary education)

To learn more, read Expatica’s helpful guide to international schools in France

Some things to consider when choosing a French or international school:

  • Reputation
  • Location
  • Integration into the community (or lack thereof)
  • Languages spoken by the teachers and administrators, inside and outside of the classroom
  • Cost
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Student body (Would you prefer for your child to study with children from around the world or with primarily French students?) 

There isn’t a right answer for most of these questions. Even reputation is subjective, so consider the source when you receive advice about schools. 

To choose the best international school for your child, take time to visit the school, tour the facilities and talk to teachers. The general feeling that you get from your visit will help you determine which school and curriculum is right for your child.  

Do you need a visa to live in France if you're not an EU citizen?

According to the French government website: “Depending on your nationality, a visa is required when intending to travel to France. All visas must be applied for prior to departure at the nearest French Embassy or French Consulate in the applicant’s country of residence.”

The French government provides a helpful website and visa tool.

Types of French visas and permits include:

Can you still move to France after Brexit?

If you are moving to France from the UK, visit the French government website:

It provides critical information about how to apply for permanent residency in France after Brexit. For details on your residence rights when living abroad in the EU please visit:

For general information about preparing, submitting and tracking your application, visit the official website for visa application to France:

Where can I meet other expats in France?

Before you move to France, it can be very helpful to speak with people who are already expats in France. They can share insights into how to move to France – including navigating French bureaucracy, where to live, schools, and more.  

Once you are living in France, you should continue to reach out to other expats. They can help you settle in and provide a critical support network.

Top places to meet expats in France include:

For suggestions and helpful links to build your support network in France, read our guide: How to meet other Expats Overseas 

Which house removal companies specialise in moving to France?

When you move from the UK to France, you will need a removal company that specialise in European moving.

To find the best removals companies, look for ones with offices across Europe that specialise in export-quality packing and moving customs clearance in France, and road transport in the EU. They should also be members of the British Association of Removers and FIDI. 

At Sterling Lexicon, we have offices in London, Paris and across Europe, and our move specialists average 12 years in the industry. Contact us to experience the high-quality, caring attitudes that our moving teams are known for! 

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ A heartfelt thank you to Robert O’Riordan for the exceptional services provided to my wife and me during our complicated move. Your expertise, patience, and attention to detail made all the difference, transforming a challenging situation into a seamless experience. We are immensely grateful for your dedication and professionalism. You truly went above and beyond, and we couldn't be more thankful for having you guide us through this journey. - Sebastian K.

How to Move to France from the UK - Easy 10 Step Checklist

Step 1: Choose a high-quality European removals company

Moving to France is a lot more complicated than moving within the UK. Your precious household items will travel more than 1000KM by road freight to your new home in France.

Choose high quality movers and packers who specialise in European moving services and customs clearance. Not sure what to look for?

Make sure that your removals company has the highest accreditations, including FIDI certification and British Association of Removers membership. Also check that they use high-quality, eco-friendly packing and shipping methods that are kind to the environment. 

fidi logo hi res

Step 2: Schedule a pre-move consultation

Request a home survey and moving quote

The next step is to request a home survey. This can be done in person or as a virtual move survey using a smartphone or tablet.

If you would like Sterling Lexicon provide you with a moving quote (we hope you do!), please fill in our quote request form or use our easy online booking calendar. Since we are a local UK removals company, you can also contact us by telephone. Our team is excited to hear from you! 

The move survey is a good chance to ask a lot of questions, including:

Packing methods
Importing a vehicle to France
Packing and crating for fine art and high-value items
VAT reclaims
Customs requirements and import restrictions

After your move survey, your Move Specialist will prepare your moving quote and send it to you.

Speak to experienced International Move Specialists, not just sales people
With Sterling Lexicon, our surveys are done by experienced International Move Specialists, not just sales people. Our Move Specialists average 12+ years in the industry and are experts in the process of moving house from the UK to Europe. Give us a call!


Step 3: Review your moving quote and book your move

Review Your Moving Quote

When you receive your International Move Summary and Quote:
  • Check the details!
  • If you get multiple quotes, make sure you have a like-for-like comparison based on the same details
  • Make sure your quote is based on an in-home or virtual survey. Over the phone or online quotes are for estimation purposes only

Book Your Move

Complete and submit your booking form to secure your move date. If you have any questions, speak to your dedicated Move Specialist.

The Sterling Lexicon Promise

Book with confidence. Book to reserve your move date and if things change you can move your dates. Sterling Lexicon is an accredited international mover providing professional support throughout your move from here in the UK and at destination. FIDI protected.


Step 4: Prepare the documents you need for removals to France 

If you are moving with Sterling Lexicon, your Move Specialist will help you prepare the documents you need to move to France. 
These may include but aren’t limited to:

  • Passport copy
  • Detailed inventory list in French, valued in EUR, dated and signed (one for each shipment)
  • Certificate of non-resale/Power of Attorney
  • Certificate of transfer or certificate of employment
  • Proof of residence in France
  • Declaration of duty exemption

**This list is provided for information purposes only. Please consult with your Move Specialist or FIDI customs guides to determine which forms and documents are required for your move. 

Don’t be overwhelmed! If you work with Sterling Lexicon, our Move Specialists can explain the documents needed to ship household goods to France.

Step 5: Get your house ready to move

Set aside items to carry on the plane or in your vehicle

Make a list of items that you should take on the aeroplane when you move. This usually includes:

  • Passports
  • Visas
  • Jewellery
  • Medication
  • Phone/charger
  • Laptop/charger
  • Adaptors
  • Important documents (insurance, lease, mortgage letter, etc.).

Decide what to move, store or give away

Moving is a great chance to declutter and simplify your life. 

Before moving day, go through your home and figure out what items you will actually need when you move to France. Don’t take items you won’t use, but don’t expect to buy or rent everything either. Rental furniture has a short lifecycle and can be harder on the environment than shipping your current furniture and belongings.

♻️ Once you sort through your items, sell, donate or discard anything that you no longer want
📦 Set aside and clearly mark any items that should be sent to furniture storage
🚫 Make sure you are aware of the items that are prohibited to import into the EU

For more information, read our blog: How to reduce the environmental footprint of your overseas move


List of prohibited items for EU Road Transport

Examples of items that are prohibited to import into the EU by road transport include but are not limited to:

●    Flammable Liquids: Oils, petrol, paint, varnish, kerosene, turpentine, pure alcohol, mentholated spirits, photographic developers, perfume, lighter fluid, toxins and poisons (e.g. arsenic, polishes, pesticides, weed killers)
●    Explosives: Flares, fireworks, ammunition, black powder
●    Flammable Gases: Oxygen, methane, acetylene, chlorine gas, fire extinguishers
●    Radioactive Materials: Wet batteries
●    Corrosives: Oxides, mercury, caustic solutions, acids, drain cleaner, bleach
●    Firearms / Weapons: Handguns, military weapons, fully automatic weapons, bb guns, switchblades
●    Miscellaneous: Irritants, matches, life rafts, scuba tanks, aerosol cans, pressurised vessels, butane lighters and refills, explosive devices, gas cylinders (including soft drink makers), prescription medicine, drug & drug paraphernalia
●    Food / Plants: Live plants, seeds, fresh fruits or vegetables, meat or milk products, tuna fish products, pet food
●    In addition, the following items can not be shipped via air freight: Rechargeable batteries, fluids such as alcohol, drinks, cough syrup, shampoo, laundry detergent, fragrance, cream, toothpaste etc. and prescription medicine


For more ways to get your house ready for moving, use our guide: Moving Overseas | What to Pack Store and Give Away.

Step 6: Follow these steps to have a great moving day

What to do while the movers are in your home
When your moving crew arrives on moving day, walk them through your home and show them:

  1. Your baggage and hand luggage – set aside so they don’t get packed!
  2. Items that should be packed for removals to France via road or air shipment
  3. Items for storage
  4. Items to stay behind

Ask friends or family to take care of your small children and pets on moving day so you can be on hand to answer any questions.

Check your packing inventory

Once the packing is complete, your mover will generate an inventory list, itemising everything that has been packed. Keep it until your possessions have arrived in France and are unpacked in your new home.

Take out international transit protection

Your goods will travel more than 1000 KM from the UK to France. Protect your move by taking out transit protection, which will cover your personal items, furniture, art, collections, etc. Provide accurate information so you have the right amount of cover. Ask your Move Specialist for details. 

Hire professionally-trained international packing crews

Sterling Lexicon’s approved professional international packers and movers are some of the best in the business and have been working with the company for many years. Our team only includes people we would trust in our own home, so we know they will be professional and respectful in yours too. Their experience ensures all your personal possessions are packed to withstand being handled and transported over thousands of miles.


Step 7: Track your Air Shipment or Road Transport to France

As part of your move survey, your move specialist will discuss options for road freight and air shipments.

Road freight is a common way to transport items from the UK across Europe

Express air shipments are usually reserved for essential or time-sensitive items

Your mover may offer FCL or LCL shipments. To learn more about ways to ship household goods to France, read our guide: FCL, LCL and Air Shipments.

Step 8: Let your Move Specialist know once you arrive in France

On your travel day, leave enough travel time to get to the airport. Check that you have your passports, entry visas, and other important documents. 

If you will be travelling with small children, pack some snacks, games, and device chargers to help keep them entertained on the road or on the plane. 

moving with children

Once you arrive in France, inform your Move Specialist. If you have pre-arranged air freight for essential items, they can be delivered to you whilst you await your road or sea shipment.

Step 9: Take delivery of your goods in your new home

Clearing customs in France

Your international mover should provide support for the customs clearance of your possessions at destination. If you choose Sterling Lexicon, our Paris removals services team will handle the import process for you.

Once your items have cleared customs in France, our team will contact you to arrange a delivery date to your new home.

Step 10: Get settled in your new home

If you haven’t already, get your utilities connected, arrange for a local bank account and find a doctor and dentist. Make sure that you are compliant with local registration requirements and tax treaties. 

Most importantly, it’s time to settle in and enjoy living in France. You did it! 

Additional areas Sterling Lexicon can help with

Moving classic cars and motorcycles to France from the UK

Do you want to move a car to France? For information about vehicle transport, including import documentation and customs requirements, visit Door-to-Door vehicle transport or ask your Move Specialist. 

classic car on an empty road

International Money Transfer

Whether you are buying or renting a home, paying school fees, or just starting a new life in France, you will need access to Euros once you arrive.

At Sterling Lexicon, our clients asked for an easy and efficient way to send and exchange foreign currency. We partner with Currencies Direct – an award winning international money transfer company. Check Currencies Direct’s exchange rates.

Moving pets from the UK to France / Pet passports

If you want to take a pet to France, check the French customs website to learn your particular requirements.

If you will be travelling by aeroplane, you may want to hire a professional pet relocation company to ensure that your pet has the correct paperwork and the safest airline itinerary. Learn more about Sterling Lexicon's Safe and Secure Pet Relocation

Woman doing high five with pet dog


Sterling Lexicon — Your Removal Company

Each year our caring and supportive Move Specialists help returning residents, diplomats, professionals, families, and retirees move to France and around the world.

We are passionate about relocation and we do our best to simplify the moving process, so that you and your family can relax and enjoy your new adventure.

For a high-quality and personalised removals service, speak with one of our Move Specialists today.

Request a moving quote

Sterling Lexicon UK

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ A very friendly and professional team that's pleasure to deal with. They helped me with the relocation of my belongings to London. The team has been very accommodating to my schedule, arrived on time, worked fast and efficiently. Couldn't have asked for me. Louise has been arranging everything behind the scenes and was an absolute pleasure to work with. - Alan S.