Import Regulations - France


France is part of the EU (European Union), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and applies the international agreements signed by these bodies.

Some of the provisions governing imports arise from membership in the EU, while others are national.

Hazardous Products

Intrinsically hazardous products: Weapons, ammunitions, instruments of war, explosives, radioactive products including isotopes for medical use require and export permit, an import license and/or surveillance.

Hazardous or undesirable products: Authorization may be required to import domestic or industrial wastes.

"Sensitive" or "dual purpose" products (high technology products): Require an export permit, an import permit and final destination control. If in doubt, please visit the Military and Strategic Goods and Technology website.


Conformity to European standards and "CE" marking: Products governed by these regulations must adhere to certain European standards at the point when they are imported. The "CE" sign of compliance must be on the product, either when the product is imported or when it is sold. Since the list of products is growing, the following is merely indicative:

Self-certification is possible in some cases. Generally a specialized laboratory known as a "competent agency" or "notified agency" must be used, including the following:

Conformity to European standards with no "CE" marking requirement: Products governed by these regulations must adhere to certain European standards at the point when they are imported. Indicative list of products covered:

Approval at the EU level (positive lists) for many products such as :

Sometimes you need to contract the services of a consultant, for example for cosmetics:

Compliance with safety regulations, compliance with French standard, ratification by a French administration: This pertains to the following products:

Marketing authorization: Medicines and cosmetics must have a marketing authorization (AMM obtained from the Agence Nationale de la Sécurité du Médicament et des Produits de Santé (ANSM) after the file is examined (in French only). This request must be made by the manufacturer's representative or the person responsible for marketing the product.

Mineral or spring water must have marketing authorization from the Préfecture (regional government offices) corresponding to the importer’s location.

Foodstuffs are subject either to specific European standards of composition (eg jams) or indirect general European standards (use of GMO derivatives, contaminant limits, bacteriological standards, additives permitted in certain types of products only), or national standards of composition. Compliance with standards is mandatory and implicit.

Food supplements must comply with French requirements and be registered with the competent administration, the DGCCRF.

Here again, the use of a consultant may be necessary, for example:

Some other products such as phytosanitary products or seeds must be listed (active substances must be listed with the EU, commercial formulas must be approved by France). Consult the EU Pesticides Database for authorizations and MRLs.

Use of French: In order to comply with Law n° 94-665 of August 4 1994 (in French only), concerning the use of French, all retail products must come with French instructions.

Use of the metric system: Compulsory. Imperial units are unfamiliar here.

Labelling of retail products: The labelling requirements vary depending on the products, are complex and different from those in Canada. Some adaptation is nearly always necessary.

Wood Packing Material, Pallets

Exporters should be aware that most of the EU is willing to receive its supply on EU-size pallets. These pallets are metric and most often measure 120 cm * 80 cm, or eventually 120 cm x 100 cm.

More advice on using European size pallets.

More info, visit the European pooling system or EUR pallets website.

Canada and the European Union have both signed the Solid Wood Packing Material convention called ISPM 15 which calls for a marking of wood packing material.

Live Animals

Like Canada, France has signed the Washington Convention (CITES) protecting endangered species and limiting trading, and products derived from them (ivory, tortoise, shell, etc.).

The importing of some live animals is prohibited; for others it is subject to authorization ("derogation") and/or quarantine.

Agricultural and Food Products

Animal products must come from establishments approved by the EU. These include live seafood, seafood products, meat, meat-based products, dairy products and pet foods.

These products must be accompanied by appropriate sanitary certificates.

Some products can be imported commercially only by approved operators, and include tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

Some agriculture or food products must be approved prior to importation: GMOs and Novel Foods.

Nutritional and health claims relatives to food products and food supplements are strictly regulated. Only those authorized by the European database can be used.

Labelling of food products is based onEuropean Regulation 1169/2011Some advice for adapting your current labelling can be obtained from

Travel or Displacement

If you're moving in France, visit the French Embassy to the USA’s website and the French Customs Douane française (in French only). Another useful site is Movers.

Tariffs and Market Access Information

Global Affairs Canada and the Trade Commissioner Service are reliable sources of information for Canadian exporters for market access information such as tariffs, taxes, rules of origin as well as certain custom or border measures.

Sites with tariff information:  TARIC (European Union website). Canada and the European Union have concluded the CETA agreement, which provides for the elimination of customs duties on the majority of Canadian products imported into the EU. The full text is available on GAC website. The customs duties that apply under this agreement are available on Tariff Finder. Conditions of origin apply to benefit from preferential arrangements, they are available on the GAC site.

Other taxes may apply (eg excise tax on alcohol, tax on oils), then the Value Added Tax or VAT.

Trade commissioners based in France can give you more comprehensive lists of consultants who specialize in approving specific products.

October 2021

Date Modified: