Import regulations in France


France is part of the European Union (EU), 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. Import regulations stem from both EU membership and French national provisions.

Hazardous Products

Intrinsically hazardous products

Weapons, ammunitions, instruments of war, explosives, radioactive products including isotopes for medical use require an 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 consult the export controls for Military and Strategic Goods and Technology.


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) is required for 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, and ratification by a French administration

These compliances pertain 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.

Use of French: In order to comply with Law no 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 by 80 cm, or eventually 120 cm by 100 cm. For more information, consult the European pooling system.

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 importation 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 and must be accompanied by appropriate sanitary certificates. This includes:

Some products, such as tobacco and alcoholic beverages, can only be imported commercially by approved operators. Some agriculture or food products, such as GMOs and Novel Foods, must be approved prior to importation. 

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

The labelling of food products is based on European Regulation 1169/2011.

Food products are subject either to specific European standards of composition (e.g. 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 these standards is mandatory and implicit.

Food supplements must comply with French requirements and be registered with the competent administration, the DGCCRF (in French only). 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 maximum residue limits (MRLs).

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 customs or border measures.

Canada and the European Union have concluded the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which provides for the elimination of customs duties on the majority of Canadian products imported into the EU. The customs duties that apply under this agreement are available on the Tariff Finder. More information on EU customs tariff, commercial and agricultural legislation can be found through TARIC.

Other taxes may apply (e.g. excise tax on alcohol, tax on oils) on top of the Value Added Tax or VAT.

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

November 2023

Date Modified: