When moving to France for either a long-term or permanent relocation, there are a lot of things to consider before moving to ensure a seamless transfer. Organising everything for you and your family to start a new life in a different country can seem daunting at first. Preparation is key, and in this guide we have put together a useful list of everything you need to think about.
By following this ultimate moving to France checklist, you can ensure that no stone is left unturned. It’s not an exhaustive to-do list, but it covers the main bases that should be considered when planning a move to France.
There are a number of aspects to financial planning for a move abroad. For a start, the cost of living may be different in France than it is in the UK, so it’s worth doing some pre-move research to enable you to plan your budgets accordingly.
On a practical level, you will need to open a French bank account. Some banks in France will enable you to start this process before you relocate; others require a face-to-face visit. This information can be gathered from the relevant bank’s website. In order to open a bank account, you will often need to present various personal documents, such as proof of identification and your residence permit.
You will be required to pay taxes in France too, so make sure that you are set up to receive a French tax return form and register with the local tax office. If your accountant has experience in expatriate finances, they can aid you with this process.
Your last will and testament should also be up to date and particularly in terms of inheritance. You may need to make amends due to inheritance law and how it affects expats.
While not too far away in terms of physical distance, France can feel very different for an expatriate in terms of way of life. This includes a different kind of work culture and etiquette to get used to, and again a little research in this area can go a long way.
It might also pay to take a few basic French lessons, if you’re not already familiar with the language. While many people can speak English, particularly in a business environment, it doesn’t mean they necessarily will. Showing willing in using the local language can help with integration into a new community.
Utilities and services are a game of two halves. Before your relocation, but once you have sourced accommodation and have a moving date, you will need to arrange for your utilities to be set up to start when you need them in your new home. This includes water, gas and electricity. You will also need to give notice on your UK utilities for your planned moving date.
The same goes for things like a telephone line, mobile phone and internet services. You may want to consider having a French SIM card for day-to-day calling on your mobile, but another card that you can use for international calls or phoning home. Again, you will need to give notice on your UK services.
As with the UK, France has a TV licence, which is covered within the occupier’s tax, so do ensure this is set up and paid before installing a television service. You should set up a mail redirection service from the UK too, so you don’t miss any important correspondence, while you contact companies and businesses to update your address details where needed.
If renting a property, your new landlord may require proof of insurance against contents and buildings damage before you move in. If you’re buying a property, appropriate insurance will also need to be in place from the outset.
Other affairs linked to your current UK home will need to be settled before your move. This includes things like informing your bank, council (for council tax settlement), HMRC, the DVLA, your mortgage provider, insurance providers, doctors and dentists, etc.
A car can either be shipped from the UK or bought in France. Registering a French car is easier, but it is possible to use a UK car although it will have to be issued with new French plates eventually. Your car will also need to be insured (see our article on this).
A UK driver’s licence is currently valid as long as it doesn’t have any endorsements, restrictions or suspensions. It may become necessary to exchange it for a French licence, so check the most up-to-date information before relocating.
If stopped by police for any reason, the following documents and items should be available in the car: driving licence, car papers, insurance documents, MOT certificate, personal ID, a high-visibility jacket, a warning triangle and French-approved breathalyser.
If you will be commuting to work via public transport, be sure to check which services offer the route you need and what ticket options you have.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand what health insurance you should have in place for when you relocate. Remember that both you and your family will need to be covered. Health insurance is mandatory, and the state insurance is paid through social security payments. While this allows access to the healthcare system, it doesn’t cover 100% of fees, so a top-up private insurance may be required.
You also need to register with a doctor and a dentist to give you treatment if you need it. If you have contacts in France, ask for good recommendations, or try some dedicated expatriate forums.
There are various logistics you need to consider when it comes to moving to France. Research moving services to safely relocate essential furniture, valuables, art and jewellery to France. Find out more about Cadogan Tate’s experience in moving private and business clients to France on the website.
If family pets are also being moved, make sure that all vaccinations are up to date, the pet is microchipped, and its Pet Passport is up to date. An approved container will be needed for transport. Research certain breeds and animals that are banned in France or require special treatment.
Information correct at the time of going to press.