VAT is a general consumption tax that is levied directly on the goods and services consumed by customers in France. This is why you, as a professional, must declare the VAT that you have collected on these taxable transactions.

Generally speaking, sales of goods and provision of services are liable for VAT in France, except when certain exemptions apply.


Taxable transactions

If you exercise a commercial, industrial, craft or liberal profession, you must pay over VAT if you have carried out transactions that are liable for this tax. These transactions could be liable:

By nature

Any supply of moveable goods, provision of services or intra-Community acquisition that:

  • Includes the payment of a counterpart (the price) by the buyer

  • Falls within the scope of an economic activity

  • Is carried out by a person exercising a regular and independent business activity

By legal provision

These are transactions for which VAT is imposed by law. In particular, these include:

  • Imports

  • Deliveries to oneself of goods and services

  • Transactions involving the handover of buildings completed less than five years earlier

By option

Certain persons who are not liable for VAT are allowed to charge VAT for their transactions. This is the case for:

  • Those leasing unfurnished premises for industrial and commercial use

  • Companies that normally qualify for exemption from VAT and who wish to opt out of this

  • Local authorities for certain services, and regional authorities for the sale of building plots

  • Farmers who are not liable for mandatory VAT

Transactions are taxable in France provided they are carried out on French soil.


Non-taxable transactions

Generally speaking, exports of goods and intra-Community supplies are exempt from VAT.


VAT on imports

The VAT on your imports must be paid to French Customs when the goods arrive on French soil (customs clearance): Foreign goods are thus taxed at the same rate as French ones. As of 1 January 2015, however, businesses authorised to use a clearance procedure with single domicile (PDU) can opt to carry over the amount of tax due on import transactions to their turnover return filed with the tax authorities.

For your intra-Community acquisitions, you must include the applicable VAT on your usual VAT return, along with the other taxable transactions.