What is clearance?

Clearance is defined as the act of declaring goods, their content, their value and their origin to French customs. In export conditions, it is conducted at customs by the person sending the item, so the sender, whereas for import it is done by the French Post Office.

Clearance applies a customs regime to all goods individually. This regime not only includes customs duties, but also VAT (Value-Added Tax). For this, the goods’ destination is considered. More specific regulatory procedures can be applied to certain products or formalities (sanitary, phytosanitary, etc.).

The CN23 customs declaration form is essential for clearance. The stage in clearance involves distinguishing import from export. Import brings goods into the European Union (EU) from countries outside the EU. Export on the other hand, sends goods to external countries from the EU.

Specificities of clearance

There are two types of clearance in France:

  • The common law procedure, or normal procedure

  • Customs clearance at destination, or at home (PDD in France)

Examples and practical applications

What are the clearance stages for import and export?

For import, clearance is a procedure covered by the French Post Office. As such, it resembles the work carried out by customs. The sender needs to have filled in the CN23 customs form beforehand, and handed over the invoice for the goods in the case of a sale. If customs duties are charged, the Post Office advances the amounts payable by the recipient. The latter shall reimburse said amounts upon delivery.

For export, the sender takes care of the whole operation, by sending the CN23 form for all Colissimo packages dispatched with a value of up to €1,000. Generally speaking, clearance means parties are exempted from VAT. The process is completed by the company, or an external service provider known as a customs broker.

Conditions required for clearance

  • Being a legal or natural person used to working in trade, or an intermediary;

  • Being in possession of an EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification); The latter (based on INSEE numbers) is used by customs officers to quickly identify the operators;

  • Declaring and presenting goods to customs.

Stages for common law clearance

This form of clearance, known as common law or normal procedure, occurs directly in the customs office. The company must arrive with an electronic declaration, downloaded beforehand via a remote procedure system called C. The customs office is located:

  • At the border (port or airport);

  • At the customs office closest to the company’s location.

The list of customs offices can be viewed here

Stages for at-home clearance

Known as at-home or destination clearance (PDD in France), this form of clearance takes place on the company’s actual premises. Customs services are warned, and they deliver a written authorization for this type of clearance. Customs services alone are certified to carry out at-home clearance. This form of clearance is possible both for export and import, regardless of the day or time.

Certifications and authorizations required for common law clearance

This procedure is carried out via the C procedural platform, so long as three formalities are complied with:

  • Your electronic data interchange system needs to have been chosen. There is either the DTI (Data Trade Interface) used via the Pro. portal; and the (Document Exchange Interface) which is only available using specific software dispensed by a provider;

  • Your “business line” certification needs to have been implemented. It will arrive once the C remote service agreement has been signed by the locally-competent customs office;

  • Procedures for the potential payment of customs duties and taxes need to have been completed, if applicable.

Certifications and authorizations required for at-home clearance

The request for this procedure is made via the “Appendix 67” form. It can be viewed and downloaded from the Pro. website. The required information concerns:

  • The type of clearance,

  • The chosen connection mode for the remote procedure (DTI or ),

  • The location of the company’s premises, whether upon arrival and/or departure of the goods.

The regional division alone is certified to approve this request.

Clearance in figures

According to the website, the 2016 worldwide index for paperless clearance had reached 87%. The customs offices’ economic action hubs counselled 2,412 companies.

Regulatory cornerstones

The Union Customs Code (UCC) and its application provisions entered into force on 1 May 2016 ( website, Professional / Clearance in France tab - Union Customs Code).