What e-tailors need to know about shipping parcels to France

13 October, 2021


France is a popular export market for British e-tailers as it's our closest neighbour and a booming e-commerce market. But what do you need to know about shipping to France?

Find out more about Asendia's parcel services to France


Expanding your ecommerce business into new markets is always an exciting time, but you’ll need to carry out plenty of research to make sure you’re able to ship to your new customers efficiently with the same professionalism your current customers already value.

France is a fantastic market to expand into, let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  • France is the seventh largest market for eCommerce with a revenue of US$59 billion in 2020. Source: ecommercedb.com
  • Top products purchased by French online consumers include clothing, shoes, toys and games, and cultural goods. Source: statista.com
  • In 2020, United Kingdom Exports to France was US$23.52 Billion this includes items from all sectors. Source: tradingeconomics.com

So, now you’re looking to expand into this market, what do e-tailors need to know about shipping parcels to France?

Shipping to France from your own UK premises

The big concern for many is how Brexit may have impacted shipping within the European Union, which the UK officially left on 1 January 2021.

The main changes for now shipping to France include:

  • EORI Number: You will now have to get an EORI number from HMRC (Economic Operator Registration and Identification Number) to ship goods from the UK to the EU. This is for both customs and your VAT documents
  • Customs Forms: You’ll now need custom declaration forms CN-22 (items up to £270) and CN-23 (items over £270). Advice from the government is to hire a customs broker or similar to help with this but if you use a mail logistics provider like Asendia then they can support this.

While we’re focussing on shipping, you should know that there are other considerations, such as VAT that your accountant or accounts team will be able to help you with. This includes using the new Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS). This is an electronic declaration and payment VAT portal for distance sales of imported goods (with a value not exceeding €150), making it easier, faster, and simpler. You can read more about that here.

With paperwork and red tape considered, how best can you get the items to your French customers?

Previously, it will have been easy to send items from your own place of business to UK customers. But as you grow and you enter new markets, you’ll need to think about the best way to ship to these new customers.

Time and cost of shipping to France will be a big factor in people choosing to shop with you. Looking online at parcel shops you can see they typically charge anything from £5 for a small package via post, to £16.50 for larger items and airfreight. It can also take 1-2 days for expensive airfreight and 5-8 days for cheaper standard shipping. 

However if you have volume i.e. are shipping to France daily with several packages to send, you can partner with a shipping company that specialises in international shipping for e-tailers. A company like Asendia. They will be able to offer a wider range of services and prices including discounts.

Outsourcing to a UK fulfilment centre with French expertise

A UK fulfilment centre may not seem necessary if you already ship from your own premisses. But consider having all your goods safe and secure off-site, ready to go at a moment’s notice to your target destination.

What’s more, the team at the centre are well practiced in all the paperwork and customs charges for borders across the world, meaning you can simply focus on maximising your customer base and growing your business.

These can be shipped with other goods from other companies, reducing costs and also using transport that is owned and operated by your mail logistics company.

Asendia, for example, has two UK based fulfilment centres that are connected to a global network that helps keep prices low and delivery times short.

Working with a fulfilment centre in France

A solution that may suit you well, is to have all your products in France prepared and ready for your new customers. Having a local fulfilment centre will help with this and offers the following benefits:

  • Less frequent shipping from the UK to France. Send over products in bulk needing one customs form, and tax payment to be safely stored in a French fulfilment centre
  • Products are already in France ready to be shipped at a moment’s notice to new customers at a local domestic shipping rate with shorter waits for delivery
  • As your products are within the EU, you can also ship to other parts of the economic area without incurring another customs charge.
  • You avoid shipping delays at borders that may arise now the UK is no longer part of the EU


Dropshipping within France

Dropshipping can be an option you if your product can be manufactured or sourced elsewhere. The customer makes an order via your site and a French manufacturer local to them makes their order up and sends it to them direct from their depot.

This does mean you avoid customs costs and red tape, and possible border delays, it may also be cheaper if you’re able to negotiate a better cost with the manufacture. But you will need to take manufacturing time into consideration which may push your shipping time up.


Optimising your webshop for French shoppers

Don’t forget the basics of how you can increase your store’s conversion rate with French shoppers:

  • Localise payment options: Make sure customer can pay in Euros using a payment method preferred by French consumers
  • Translate: Make sure your website can be translated into French
  • Localised delivery options: Whichever way choose to get your items into France, be sure to use a logistics provider who has access to local delivery options, who know the area and local customs

We’ve written detailed guidance on best practice tips for increasing your ecommerce conversion rate which you can read here.

International mail logistics company Asendia delivers to 200 countries and is well rehearsed in all aspects of international shipping. They employ 1,500 staff at 35 global locations, and have fulfilment centres in Italy, Singapore, USA, Australia, and New Zealand.

If you simply need to ask a few questions about how to get started, or you’re ready to start shipping to France and grow your business in this exciting market, get in touch and see how Asendia can help make your eCommerce business global.

To find out about local fulfilment centres in Europe, and how they can help your business grow into this exciting market, give Asendia a call.


Asendia's parcel services to France for online stores large and small

We handle the fulfilment and shipping of international orders for some of the biggest e-tail brands in the world and hundreds of smaller online stores too. 

Find out more about our international order fulfilment services

See details about our parcel services to France


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