VAT in France

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French VAT

French VAT rules are based on regulations drawn up by the EU, of which France was a founding member. The standard French VAT rate is currently 20%. As an EU member state, France is obliged to implement the VAT Directives, which provides guidance on VAT. 

French VAT law

The French VAT law is mostly ruled by French Tax Code (CGI). Other related declarations are also administered by the Direction Generale des Douanes et Droits Indirects.

French VAT registration

With the European Single Market Initiative foreign companies, not established on France, are allowed to provide or purchase goods and/or services in France. In most of the case, those companies, nonetheless, have tax obligations in France and as a consequence must be registered there for VAT purposes.

Most common scenarios where a VAT registration is necessary are the following (non-limitative list): 

  • organisation of events, conferences … in France,
  • sales of goods in France to individuals or companies without French VAT number, 
  • holding goods in a stock in France for more than 3 months, 
  • selling goods from France to other European countries, 
  • distance sales to French individuals (when the amount of sales exceed the national threshold),
  • work on French buildings

Registering for French VAT generally takes around four weeks, although this delay is not strict and depends on the tax administration.

French VAT fiscal representative

EU companies are no longer required to appoint a full VAT fiscal representative for the French tax authorities but may require the help of a tax agent. 

On the other hand, non-EU companies must appoint a French fiscal representative except for the one established in a state which signed a mutual assistance agreement with France. 

French VAT compliance

Once registered in France, the company’s obligations are not only to declare and pay the VAT but to follow French compliance rules included in guidelines as the ones on French invoices, foreign currencies conversion and reporting, credits notes and corrections … 

French VAT rates

The standard VAT rate in France is 20%. 

Principal reduced rates are 5.5% and 10%. Other specific reduced rated exist such as 2.1% for goods from chemists or some newspapers or 13% for sales in Corsica Island. 

French VAT returns

Companies registered in France for VAT purposes returns on monthly, quarterly, annual or seasonal basis, depending of the volume of their French activities. On the VAT return, the company must detailed all taxable and non-taxable sales made in France, purchases with input VAT and operations with VAT in reverse charge to declare. Most companies are on a monthly regime and must submit their returns before the 19th (for European companies) or the 24th (for non-European companies) of the following month. 

French DEB 

The DEB is the French equivalent for European Intrastat and EC lists declarations. The DEB is an additional declaration to be submitted by companies with operations (sales or purchases) between France and another European country. The submission deadline is on the 10th days of the following month. 

Refund of foreign VAT

Foreign companies with no tax obligations in France are still allowed to recover the French VAT paid on their purchases for business purposes. This is another process opened by the European Directive and it does not require a French VAT registration.

View more information on other countries, or find out more about VAT.