Shipping from China to France: Customs, Cost, Transit Time and More [2024]

France possesses one of the largest economies in the EU, with a diverse mix of sectors. It is known for its advanced manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical and luxury goods industries.

If importing to France is on your agenda, then you will need to know about the different modes of transport, costs, transit times, and customs clearance procedures. We have gathered the most important information about ocean and air shipping to France, right here on this page for your convenience.

shipping from china to france

France Customs Entry

Importing refers to purchases products from a non-EU country. An entry summary declaration (ENS) containing safety and security information must be sent to the first EU point of entry for all goods imported from non-EU countries.

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.

France EORI Number

The EORI number is a unique number valid throughout the European Union. All traders are assigned an EORI number which they must use when carrying out international transactions from China.

EORI registration is mandatory prior to carrying out any customs transaction in a Member State. Economic operators that have never accomplished customs procedures must file an EORI number application on the online teleservice SOPRANO EORI.

Economic operators which have an establishment in France (and therefore a SIRET number) and which clear goods in France or in another EU countries must be registered in France. The EORI number assigned to your business uses the SIRET number based on the following format: FR + SIRET.

If you are not sure you are registered, you can verify the validity of your EORI number at

France Tariff Code

Each good has a trade description and for customs purposes is assigned an international tariff classification number under the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System or HS).

This system is crucial for your business as it determines, for example, the applicable customs duties, applicable trade policies, and which technical standards must be complied with.

The first six digits of HS Code are common to all countries. You should ask your supplier for the first six digits of the HS code of the good you are purchasing. And check the complete code through RITA of France Customs.

France Duties and VAT 20%

All goods imported from a non-EU country must be declared to customs and are subject, where applicable, to customs duties and VAT.

  • The applicable rate of customs duties varies depending on the description of the goods and their country of origin.
  • The applicable rate of VAT varies depending on the type of goods.

Based on your company status, VAT paid on imports can or can not claim back.

  • If you opt for EURL, SARL or SAS (limited company), you will be allocated a tax ID number and can make tax-exempt purchases within the European Union (EU) and claim back any VAT paid on imports.
  • If you opt for autoentrepreneur (freelance), you must pay VAT on all imported goods and cannot claim any of it back.

Customs duties are calculated on the value of the good plus all fees incurred (insurance, transport, etc.) up to the EU entry point, while VAT is calculated on the value of the good plus all shipping and insurance costs incurred up to the final delivery point, and any customs duties payable.

With your authorization, the shipping company, express courier service, postal service, haulage firm or similar can deal with all customs clearance procedures and pay on your behalf any customs duties and/or VAT due to the customs authorities. They will then bill you as the receiver of the goods for the amount paid in addition to any fees that may be owed.

Sea Freight to France

Importers 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. And ISPM 15 is mandatory for a wood packing pallet.

If you find yourself in need of container shipment to France or have any question for shipping to France, please ask CFC for a quote. Whatever the request is, we can cover you with convenient freight shipping solutions to France from China.

Top Container Ports in France

Open on several maritime fronts (the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the English Channel and the North Sea, etc.) with strong overseas regions and departments, France has a total of 66 commercial seaports.

Le Havre port is the second largest in France, after that of Marseille, for total traffic, and the largest French container port. Comprising the ports of Le Havre, Rouen and Paris, with inauguration of the multimodal terminal, HAROPA PORT is France’s number 1 logistics hub, offering an end-to-end, holistic and decarbonised range of services.

In 2023, HAROPA Port imported more than 416,000 TEUs of goods from China and exported more than 72,000 TEUs of goods to China. China has become HAROPA Port’s largest import market and second largest export market.

Other major container ports for seamless imports from China to France are:

  • The Port of Lyon
  • The Port of Deauville
  • The Port of Brest
  • The Port of La Pallice
  • The Port of Calais
  • The Port of Gennevilliers
  • The Port of Trouville-sur-Mer

Best Shipping Companies to Ship Containers to France

For those looking to send containers to France from China, here’s a table of leading international shipping companies that provide a perfect mix of fast and economical services.

Ocean CarriersDescription
MSKA global leader in shipping, known for its extensive network and reliable services
MSCOffers competitive rates and a broad service portfolio for worldwide container shipping
COSCOA key player in international shipping with a strong presence in major trade lanes
CMA CGMRenowned for its innovative shipping solutions and global reach
Hapag-LloydDelivers top-notch container shipping services with a focus on customer satisfaction
ONEKnown for its vibrant container fleet and efficient shipping routes
ZIMFocuses on tailor-made shipping services, enhancing the customer shipping experience
EMCOffers comprehensive global shipping services with an emphasis on environmental sustainability
Yang MingPrioritizes customer-centric services and operational excellence
OOCLDistinguished by its advanced technology and global container transport solutions

Sea Freight Cost to France

With the final cost depending on so many different criteria, there is no easy answer to this question. The quote for your ocean shipping needs will be based on the following factors:

  • Nature of goods
  • Chosen mode of transport (FCL/LCL)
  • Weight of the cargo
  • Dimensions of the cargo
  • Distance between origin and destination
  • Type of service (such as port-to-port, door-to-door)

When the container arrived at France port, you also need to pay the destination fees as below.

Customs clearance80 €
BL Fee60 €
DTHC & ISPS250 €
Handling Fee50 €

CFC operates in a wide range of ports worldwide, which will allow you to ship your container to France at the best rate in FCL (Full Container Load) or LCL (Less than Container Load). Pick your shipment mode, choose your preferred route and enjoy unbeatable prices.

Sea Freight Transit Time to France

The average transit time to ship a container to France is rough 1 month.

The exact timeline for shipping a full container varies by size (20ft or 40ft) and the chosen route. For a detailed quote tailored to your needs, including shipping to France’s major container ports, please reach out to our quotation team.

Air Freight to France

In most cases, air shipping will outperform ocean shipping for speed and flexibility. This is true even when a direct flight is not available for your cargo. On a less positive note, air freight is also likely to be the most expensive option.

Top 10 Airports in France

Airport CodeAirport NameAirport City
CDGCharles de Gaulle International AirportParis
NCENice-Côte d'Azur AirportNice
LYSLyon Saint-Exupéry AirportLyon
MRSMarseille Provence AirportMarseille
TLSToulouse-Blagnac AirportToulouse/Blagnac
ORYParis-Orly AirportParis
BSLEuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg AirportBâle/Mulhouse
BODBordeaux-Mérignac AirportBordeaux/Mérignac
NTENantes Atlantique AirportNantes
SXBStrasbourg AirportStrasbourg

Top Express Companies

  • DHL
  • FedEx
  • UPS
  • GLS
  • La Poste

Air Freight Cost to France

The price of air rates to France is influenced by various factors, making each quote unique. These factors include:

  • Type of Cargo
    The cost varies significantly based on whether you opt for general cargo, hazardous cargo, or oversized cargo.
  • Fuel Price (BAF)
    Bunker Adjustment Factor, or fuel surcharge, fluctuates with global oil prices, affecting overall shipping costs.
  • Dimensions and Weight of Cargo
    Larger and heavier shipments typically incur higher shipping costs due to the increased space they occupy and the added weight.
  • Shipping Company or Airlines
    Different carriers have varying pricing structures, reflecting their service levels, capacity availability, and additional offered services.
  • Destination Airport in France
    Charges can vary from one airport to another based on local tariffs, handling fees, and accessibility.
  • Location of Your Cargo
    The cost to ship from China to France can differ greatly, especially if originating from a distant location or requiring complex logistics.
  • Air Route
    Direct routes are generally more expensive than those requiring transshipment, although availability may affect this choice.

A precise cost estimate for air freight to France necessitates detailed information on these factors. By providing specifics about your shipment, freight forwarders can tailor a shipping solution that meets your requirements and budget constraints accurately.

There are also charges you need to pay when goods arrived at France airport. Below’s a chart FYI.

Airport Charges (Paris)Unit Price
Airline fees80 €
Handling charges0.19 €/kg – Minimum 19 €
Customs clearance100 €
Import customs tax20 €
Documentation fees50 €
Storage fees4 free days, then 3.75 €/day/100 kg (Min.15 €)
Customs control (if required)40 €
Delivery chargesAt cost
Insurance feeAt cost

Air Freight Transit Time to France

How long it will take for your cargo to reach France from China will primarily depend on the air route and airlines. Air freight shipments from a major international airport are typically available for collection or onward transportation in France after two to ten days, although in rare cases, the time required can be longer.

Express air freight is typically handled by one company (like DHL, UPS or FedEx) that manages the entire shipment lifecycle, with shipping from door to door in under five days.

CFC News - Jul. 22, 2024

41 exit-entry ports in China have implemented the 144-hour visa-free transit policy for worldwide 54 countries.

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My machine arrived in good order and I am happy with CFC's shipping arrangements. I received quotes from other forwarding companies but they kept changing the amounts. Your quote was exact and there were no hidden charges. I would be happy to recommend CFC to other importers of goods from China.

--- Chris G., Canada
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