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This guide is written by European expats to help you move to America from France. It explains everything you need to know when moving to the United States of America, from gaining your US visa and Work Permit to the international move process.
America is the top international destination for French and EU citizens moving abroad. In fact, the USA accounts for 10% of French expatriates living abroad. The United States has much to offer “Les Français”, with New York and Los Angeles accounting for almost a third of French expats living in America. Interestingly 1 in every 65 people living in Miami Florida is a French expat. So why is America such a hot spot for French expats?
Well, it’s work. The strength of the US economy and resultant career openings make it possible for skilled French and EU citizens to secure work and obtain US work permits. Despite recent global crises, the US economy continues to boom and is the world’s biggest, most innovative and most technologically powerful, in large part thanks to the numerous French corporations headquartered in the USA. These firms offer international professionals opportunities for career development and lure them to the leading financial centres of New York or Los Angeles. But do bear in mind that smaller business centres such as Atlanta are worth considering. Another draw for professionals is the relaxed, informal business culture in the USA, with an emphasis on minimum red tape.
Underpinning this business culture is the can-do culture. It may seem like a cliché, but such an attitude and positive thinking are important factors in the American way of doing things. With such a mindset, problems are seen as opportunities, not threats.
Then there are the buzzing cities and amazing outdoors – to name just a few. The United States may lack Canada’s strong linguistic connection with France, but the large US cities are a global melting pot and the international atmosphere of its cities will help make settling in much easier.
Everyone knows New York, Boston and Los Angeles, but the regional cities have much to offer, including greater affordability and good quality of life. Atlanta, Georgia, is known for its thriving business culture and is home to several Fortune 500 companies. Jacksonville, the largest settlement in Florida, is a major business centre and is regarded as one of the best places to live in the state, not least because of access to excellent beaches. To the north, Cincinnati in Ohio, is enjoying a jobs boom and rates highly on the quality of life scale.
Historically, the USA has been a nation of immigrants, and people from all over the globe continue to make it their home. You’ll meet people from a whole range of backgrounds and cultures, many of whom are going through the same experiences of transitioning abroad. All of this adds to the experience of living in another culture.
Life in America can offer a very high quality of life. With the exception of the big US city centres which are roughly on a par with Paris, housing and real estate in the USA are considered affordable and of a high standard, which means that families moving to America, will be able to find a good place to live, in a neighbourhood that offers enough space and provide children with a good standard of education. The relative cost of food and consumer products makes living affordable, especially when considered against incomes available.
There is also the great outdoors. From the rugged Rocky Mountains in the Northwest and Death Valley in California to the Everglades in Florida in the Southeast, some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes are found in the US.
Many are within easy reach of the big cities, such as the wooded landscapes of New England, famous for their autumn colours. But if you really want to get away from it all, you can do so in the famous national parks, such as Yosemite or Yellowstone. And whether you enjoy cycling, skiing or sailing, there are numerous ways to enjoy outdoor pursuits.
Consider these points before you move to America from France:
Probably yes. During the lockdown periods, moving to the USA was still possible. Bear in mind that you’ll also need to fulfil certain requirements for moving from France to the USA. Your international moving company should also offer a Covid-compliant health and safety international move process. For example, Sterling Lexicon’s Covid safe work practices are designed to protect you and their employees during the packing and moving of your items here and at destination.
Travel advice. The US Government’s travel advice website for people travelling to America from France has additional and detailed advice. If in doubt, you can call your moving company to discuss the requirements. You can also check the Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères (to view in English, you will need to use the Translate option in your browser).
The COVID-19 restrictions and regulations are regularly changing. Please therefore confirm with your moving company today. Refer to the Department of State guidance for more details.
Yes, unless you’re a returning US citizen you will require a US visa and a work permit. The first step is the US residence permit, and a work permit is also required to be able to work legally. Bear in mind that the application process can be lengthy, up to 6 months. France is a Schengen state, so is handled accordingly by the US U.S. Department of State Visa Appointment Service. Applications would normally be made while you are in France.
US visa categories and US visa types vary based on your reason for moving and your relationship status. In most cases, the visa will be work-related. There are a lot of different visas and understanding which is the most applicable is key, so it is always advisable to seek professional advice.
Families or couples relocating to the USA must ensure all group members have the correct status and can live, study or work there. They are also subject to restrictions; for example, accompanying partners are not able to work without the appropriate visa and work permit.
A valid passport, birth certificate (for accompanying children), marriage certificate, current resume, educational/professional qualifications. Have you begun the application process? If yes, please ask for a move quote. You can get a quote here.
*Information provided above is for awareness purposes only and should not be used as legal advice. Please ensure you consult with a qualified immigration lawyer.
You’ll need to have an address before you arrive, so that your belongings can be delivered.
What if I’m living in temporary accommodation? you can arrange interim accommodation before moving to your new address.
What if I’m living in rented property? If you’re renting, a signed lease contract, with your address, is required.
What if I’m purchasing a property? If you’ve bought your own home, the purchase agreement and mortgage statement, showing your address, are required.
It is highly advisable. Unlike in most European countries, including France, healthcare is not free at the point of need in the USA. Even a routine medical procedure can cost a considerable amount, and if you have any medical issues, you will pay even more. Arranging health insurance is therefore vital for ensuring peace of mind. Speak to your Move Specialist who can provide quotes for you or spend some time researching on Google.
Your income in the USA will be subject to social security payments. Income tax is levied at the federal level, and most states charge deduct income tax. Rates are generally lower than in Europe although a progressive system applies.
*Information provided above is for awareness purposes only and should not be used as tax advice. Please ensure you consult with a qualified tax advisor.
Here is a useful checklist to help you plan each stage of your move to America from France.
As you would imagine, moving abroad is more complex and time-consuming than moving home within your own country. Therefore, it is highly recommended you choose a reputable and reliable international moving company.
Make sure that the removal company is registered and has the necessary insurance. One way of doing this is to check they are registered with the main international moving authorities.
Always ask whether the company is FIDI-certified. FIDI defines the industry quality standard for international moving and relocation companies. A FIDI certification is only granted to movers who meet its strict rules so it is worth checking this. Look for FIDI’s FAIM or FAIM Plus accreditation.
You will need to get a quote for your international move to America. The easiest way to do this is via an online Move Quote Form. If the moving company has an international removal office in France you can also call them or send an email.
Upon receiving your quote request, it is best practice for an international moving company to conduct a short consultation with you, usually via phone to fully understand your moving needs.
The team will go through everything you’ll need for the international move and all the pre-move checks. They should run through a checklist to ensure everything is in place so you can move to the USA.
A home video survey helps ensure your quote is as accurate as possible. Usually, this will be a survey of your home contents by means of a video or possibly an in person visit by a surveyor.
When you speak to the international moving company, you may like to ask about these points during the video survey:
Fine art, delicate items, and antiques: These will need to be highlighted to ensure they receive specific treatment such as casing and preservation. They will also need to be handled differently and most likely have specific customs requirements. Make sure your moving company has the ability to handle these requirements.
Ballpark quotes: These are provided by some movers over the phone. If you are offered this option without a complete assessment, please be aware that the final price you pay might be considerably higher.
Your International Move Summary and Quote: This will be sent to you after the survey. Check the details to make sure that everything is clear. If you have more than one quote, make sure you are getting a like-for-like comparison.
Check your move quote to make sure it includes everything you requested. You can always contact your Move Specialist at any time if you’ve any questions. If you’re comparing quotes between several moving companies, you can speak to a Sterling Lexicon Move Consultant who can help you compare like-for-like.
Some movers may ask you to pay a deposit to secure your move date. You should be able to pay by credit card over the phone, or you can pay online. Credit card payment is recommended as the safest, most secure option.
You can save time by managing stages of your move via a web portal and tracking progress online. You should check that your international removal company offers this option.
It has to be done, but most international movers will help support you and make the process quick and as easy as possible. If you book with Sterling Lexicon, your Move Specialist will check that everything is completed properly, thus avoiding unnecessary delays and increased expenses.
For international removals, certain documents must be completed so that you can bring your items into the USA via US customs from the EU. They include customs documents, and a copy of your passport and your residence visa/work permit for you and your accompanying family.
Your international moving company’s Move Consultant should help you to make sure you have all the correct customs documentation. They should guide you through the documentation stages and also help you fill in the US Customs 3299 Form – the importer’s declaration, which can be confusing and complex.
Below is a list of the documents you’ll need when planning an international removal to America from France:
You should prepare your home ahead of the arrival of the packing crews. Firstly, sort out items you want to take with you and those that will stay. Belongings to be transported by air freight should be put to one side. If you have pictures, place them against a wall, ready for packing. Large items can be set aside for the moving company to dismantle, or you can do this yourself. All small parts should be placed in a dedicated parts box for reassembly when you move into your new home.
Put your passport, French ID, visa, drivers license, phone, charger, power pack, adaptor, jewellery and any medication in a container so they aren’t packs. Also, keep key documents such as insurance contracts and lease contracts in a wallet - make sure you have physical and digital copies to hand.
If you’re taking pets, speak to your Moving Specialist about particular requirements. For example, cats and dogs are subject to different rules than those for a reptile or exotic pet. Sterling Lexicon can arrange a consultation and a date and time and to collect your pet. Learn all about our safe and secure Pet Relocation services.
Ensure that you pack all the nuts and bolts from dismantled furniture, remote controls, etc., in a single box marked appropriately. You should also set aside a box for items for your first evening in your new accommodation. Cutlery, plates, cups, blankets, etc. should be placed inside it. Make sure these boxes are clearly marked and are last to be loaded, so you can easily locate them.
Your professional packing crew will come to your home at the arranged time. The standard procedures will apply, which involves a walk through your home, and you can let the packing crew know what you want to take or leave at home, how you want your items to be transported. You can also tell us about any valuable items. They may provide you with stickers for labelling items.
Professionally trained international packing crews
Sterling Lexicon’s professional international packing crews are some of the best in the business and have been working for the company for many years. We only use 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 perfectly to withstand being handled and transported over thousands of miles.
Check that the packing materials used are sustainable and are of the required standard. Reputable companies use packing materials offering the best protection and are environmentally-friendly. This includes sustainable and eco-friendly 4-6 ply export wrap, thick-walled packing boxes, acid-free tissue paper, cornering for furniture, and thick carding. You can expect the packing crews to apply specialist export wrapping techniques and take measures to protect your home from damage. The crews will recycle materials as much as possible.
Your possessions will be transported roughly 4,000 miles/7000 kms between France and America. Protect your move with an insurance policy for your possessions, furniture, artworks, etc. You can ask your Move Specialist to help you arrange cover.
As a preventative measure and to minimise costs, send your Move Consultant a list of everything that you want to take. They’ll let you know if any items are restricted or incur tax duties.
Your mover should provide a packing inventory. This is with a list of all the items packed. Please keep a copy until your belongings have arrived in the USA and have been unpacked so you can check everything has arrived.
If you need to put any items into storage, ask your international movers for secure storage in France so they can store these safely and securely before shipping.
Your international mover will prepare your possessions for transportation. Sea freight is often the best way to move your household goods over a long distance with a lower environmental impact. It is also common to arrange an air shipment for your most essential items.
It should take at least 6 to 8 weeks for your sea shipment to arrive in America. Bear in mind that this will vary, depending on customs clearance and which state you’re moving to.
Household goods transported to America and will undergo US Customs clearance. Make sure you include the proper US Customs documents and supporting information. Check how your international mover will support you here. For example, if you use Sterling Lexicon, they will help you complete the forms in advance and manage the clearance process.
You should arrive at the airport in plenty of time. Before setting off, check that all your documents are present and correct. Also, check that you meet all the legal requirements for COVID testing and travelling. If you are moving your pet(s), they will be travelling in safety and comfort too.
You’ll probably be in temporary accommodation or staying at a hotel before your belongings are brought over. When you’ve arrived and passed through customs, inform your Move Consultant. They can then organise delivery of your air-freight, with your essential items, to this address.
If you would like help sourcing the best value temporary accommodation in the USA, check with your moving company if they offer this. The Sterling Lexicon team would be happy to provide a competitive temporary accommodation quote.
Your international mover should provide support for the customs clearance of your possessions at destination. Once cleared, they will contact you to arrange delivery of your household goods to your new home.
You’ve made it! Welcome to your new home! Our support doesn’t stop here. It’s time to get to know your new neighbourhood and Sterling Lexicon offer settling-in services. Your first night will often feel strange so make sure you locate your first night box so you can get takeaway or even cook yourself.
On a more practical note, you will also need to get all your utilities connected, register for a local doctor, dentist, arrange for a bank account (if not already organised) and get yourself set up correctly. Speak to your international mover at the early stages as you can often get these things set up in advance.
Settling-in and orientation support
If you have moved with Sterling Lexicon and would like any local advice on places to help you settle-in, or you need additional support for the practical things such as utilities, local expat club introductions, schools, or anything else. Simply contact your Sterling Lexicon Move Specialist.
If you need to talk to someone about starting the visa process, speak to our specialist immigration team. Speak to our immigration team.
We have over 30 years of experience shipping classic cars and motorcycles to the USA. Read our Auto Shipping FAQs and get an auto shipping quote.
If you need temporary housing, we work with verified accommodation providers across the United States of America, and we can offer the best prices. So, whether you require serviced accommodation in the city centre or a hotel, your Move Consultant will arrange the booking and help secure the best price. Get a temporary accommodation quote.
If you have a work of fine art you wish to take as part of your move to America, we have specialist advisory, art technicians, fine art crating and shipping services to ensure your works receive exceptional care. Please contact us for a consultation.
Why not speak to one of our experienced team members in our French office who can answer your questions clearly and simply. Call today.
As a huge and diverse country, the USA has something for everyone, from bold, brash New York, to the quiet countryside of Connecticut. The following list summarises some of the most popular destinations.
Like New York, California offers a wealth of career opportunities, and you’ll find many big names in business here. We’ve helped many families set up in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and many other cities. And, of course, California is synonymous with sunshine, Hollywood, the great outdoors and healthy lifestyles. Read our guide for moving to California from the UK.
If you want to live in a smaller, quieter town but enjoy accessibility to the big East Coast cities, Connecticut is the place for you. The state lies in southern New England and halfway between Boston and New York. But Connecticut also offers a more laidback approach to life than the big urban centres, and as access to the coast and countryside.
The state capital, Atlanta, has always attracted expats moving to the USA. It is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including big names such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, which provide numerous career opportunities. In addition, Atlanta has a good quality of life and a thriving cultural scene. Beyond the capital, draws include historic Savannah, Chattahoochee National Park and the Masters Golf Tournament.
The Big Apple offers numerous career opportunities, is one of the world’s most diverse and cosmopolitan cities and has numerous attractions, from buzzing Broadway to the Guggenheim Museum. The city may be huge and hectic, but we’ll help you get your bearings and settle in your new home. We’ll also help you find a place to live, whether a city centre loft or a home in the suburbs.
Florida is not called the Sunshine State for nothing. Jacksonville is the largest population centre and boasts a thriving economy, good employment opportunities, affordability and an excellent quality of life. Florida has plenty to offer beyond Jacksonville, notably all-year-round sunshine, endless beaches and attractions such as the Everglades National Park and Walt Disney World.
Wherever you want to move to in the USA, Sterling Lexicon offers complete coverage of all of the states and their cities. Get a free move quote today.
For a free move quote to America from France, complete this quote form. One of our Move Specialists will then be in contact within 24 hours.
The next step in the move process is to book your free video survey. This allows Sterling Lexicon to accurately estimate the weight/volume of your household goods and get you the best price for your move. All you need is a smartphone and a move specialist will guide you through the estimate at a time that is convenient for you. To book your video survey, speak to your Move Specialist.
Payment can be made by credit card over the phone or you can pay online.
We provide full support to professionals moving from France to the USA with their families. Our services include visa assistance, finding accommodation, and the end-to-end moving process. Our moving specialists at our Paris office are on hand to help you before the move, and their US counterparts, based in various locations across the USA, will help you with the settling-in process.