Distance sales of alcoholic beverages from EU to France

Mise à jour le 15/07/2021

Steps to be followed by professionnals in other EU Member States wishing to sell alcoholic beverages to private individuals located in France.

Steps to be followed by professionals in other EU Member States wishing to sell alcoholic beverages to private individuals located in France

Definition and legal foundation

Distance selling to France

The distance selling transaction must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The sale of alcoholic beverages must be carried out by a professional located in another EU Member State
  • The sale must be to an individual located in mainland France
  • The excise goods shall already have been released for consumption in the Member State from which the goods are shipped
  • French duties and taxes shall be payable upon the arrival of the goods in France
  • The goods shall be shipped or transported to France, either directly or indirectly by or on behalf of the seller
  • The process is limited to alcoholic beverages. Distance purchasing of manufactured tobacco products are forbidden in both mainland France and its overseas territories.

Applicable rules and regulations

Procedures to complete in France in order to ship excise goods

Obligations of the seller

a) Excise goods must be sold inclusive of all taxes

The seller must invoice the price of the goods + duties and taxes due in France + VAT due in France to its customer. The following sources have information about duties and taxes applicable in France:

  • Information about excise duty and other domestic taxes applicable to alcoholic beverages is available (in French only) on French Customs' website www.douane.gouv.fr : Droits d'accise sur les alcools et boissons alcooliques
  • Information about VAT is available on the tax authorities' website: www.impots.gouv.fr.
b) For payment of excise duty on goods, a tax representative must be designated in France

The seller is liable for excise duty due in France. Under the terms of Article 302 V bis of the French General Tax Code, he or she must designate a tax representative based in France who will pay the excise duty to the French Customs authorities.

c) The goods must be accompanied by a commercial document containing the following information:
  • Name and address of the consignor ;
  • Name and address of the consignee ;
  • Shipping address if different from billing address of the consignee;
  • Type and quantity of excise goods ;
  • The statement « ventes à distance de produits soumis à accise » ; preferably in the header of the document;
  • Identification number, name and address of the tax representative of the consignor;
  • Customs and Excise department with which the tax representative is registered in France;
  • Identification number of the tax representative's financial guarantee.

Obligations of the tax representative

a) Procedures to complete prior to shipment

The tax representative must complete the following procedures at his local Customs and Excise Department:

  • Registration

The registration request must be filed with their local customs office, and must contain the following documents:

  1. Letter of request for registration as tax representative for excise duty ;
  2. Authorisation of establishment or operations and/or registration certificate (K bis)
  3. The company’s articles of association;
  4. The instrument appointing the company’s manager if such appointment is not specified in the articles of association, together with a specimen of his/her signature
  5. Powers of attorney issued by the managers having authority to sign instruments committing the company
  6. A template of the deliveries records kept ;
  7. Presentation of a joint and several guarantee. Before starting its business activity, the operator must provide a guarantee under the conditions set out in French guarantee regulation CIA 200 (Official Customs Bulletin (BOD) 6517 of 29 june 2001 [French version]: French guarantee regulation CIA 200).

The guarantee procedure is based on a regulation, identified by customs as CIA 200.

This regulation:

  • stipulates the guarantor’s (bank or guarantee organisation) general obligations
  • sets the conditions for setting up the guarantee and for its validity
  • describes the guarantees that the guarantor may have to provide and specifies their scope

The guarantee regulation assigns an alphanumeric code to each of these guarantees to allow for abbreviated identification in the guarantee instrument (cerfa form 10646).

The guarantee phases are as follows:

  1. To know which guarantees are required for your business activity, you should contact the customs and excise office to which you report which, according to the information you provide, will advise you of the type of guarantees to set up.
  2. Next, you can contact your bank or guarantee organisation to draw up the guarantee instrument containing the guarantees specified by the customs and excise office and depending on the nature of your business activity.
  3. The financial institution will then send the guarantee instrument duly signed by the principal (you) and by the guarantee organisation’s representative, to the regional customs collection office.
  4. The regional customs collection office will register the instrument and send a copy to the customs office to which you report, a copy to the guarantor and a copy to you.

You are then ready to start your business activity.

b) Procedures to complete in the course of business:

  • File a montly assessmment declaration for each of your clients and pay the corresponding excise duty;
  • Keep accounting records of deliveries of goods and be prepared to present them at the request of French Customs.

Other procedures to complete in France

Identification of the seller liable for VAT and payment of VAT

Contact details

VAT registration requests, filing VAT returns and VAT payments are carried out at the following department:

Service des impôts des entreprises étrangères (SIE)
[Foreign Business Tax Department]
10 rue du Centre
TSA 20011
93465 Noisy-le-Grand Cedex

Tel: + 33 (0)1 57 33 85 00
Email: siee.dinr@dgfip.finances.gouv.fr
Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm or by appointment

Companies based in another EU Member State do not need to appoint a tax representative to pay French VAT.

However, to streamline relations with the French authorities, they may appoint a representative, based in France, who will complete procedures on their behalf but under their responsibility. If they decide to do so, they must draw up an authorisation letter and send the original to the SIE. The tax representative appointed to pay excise duty may also serve as a representative with respect to VAT.

Declaration and payment of VAT

The seller or his/her representative in France must, no later than the 19th of the month following the tax period (month, quarter, or seasonal or extraordinary transaction), file a VAT return online and pay the VAT to the SIE.

VAT payments shall be made by cheque, made out to "Trésor Public", or by bank transfer. Online payment of VAT is reserved for companies with a French bank account.

A complete explanation of the steps to follow can be found on the French tax authorities' website: impots.gouv.fr

Drawing up an Exchange of Goods Declaration between EU Member States (Déclaration d'Echanges de Biens – DEB)

The seller must draw up and submit to French Customs a DEB listing all goods brought into the country over the past month.

This declaration must be filed if one of the two following conditions has been met:

  • During the previous calendar year, the operator brought in goods whose total value, net of tax, was €460,000 or more. A DEB is required starting in January, and for the rest of the year.
  • During the previous calendar year, the operator brought in goods whose total value, net of tax, was less than €460,000, but it exceeds this threshold during the year. A DEB is required starting with the month the threshold is exceeded.

1 For the tax representative, this consists of depositing an amount to guarantee the payment of excise duty.
2 Payment may be made in cash, by cheque, bank transfer and by debit/credit card.