SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

MOVING TO SPAIN

How new post-Brexit rules affect bringing goods to Spain via France

Following reports of a new post-Brexit customs rule meaning extra paperwork and fees when moving to European countries, here’s a look at how the rules apply to people moving their household goods from the UK to Spain.

How new post-Brexit rules affect bringing goods to Spain via France
Overall, while the T1 form requirement will likely add some extra fees, bureaucracy, and possible delays for people relocating from the UK to Spain, it's far from being a major obstacle to a house move. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

There’s been talk on social media this week of a new Brexit rule that affects household furniture removals from the UK into Europe via France.

Couriers who regularly transport goods across the Channel have been reporting that a ‘T1’ form or bond is now required by French customs for all household moves from the UK.

Readers have been getting in touch to ask what this means for them – particularly whether this means there are new restrictions on moving goods to Italy or any other EU country.

So what is a T1 form, when will you need one, and why haven’t we heard about this before?

What’s changing

The T1 requirement has been in place for a long time, but it’s only now that France is getting around to enforcing it for the UK post-Brexit, explains Brian Murphy, managing director of the Dublin-based logistics company Global Trade.

A T1 transit declaration form tracks goods that are being transported between countries within the EU customs union from outside the EU. 

It provides the holder with proof that they need to make an import declaration and pay customs duties only upon reaching their final destination, Murphy tells The Local, and not in any of the other EU countries they transit through.

This is not a general requirement for all goods brought into the EU. Because the T1 tracks the movement of goods within the EU, it’s not needed if you’re bringing items from directly into one EU country – e.g. from the US to Spain by plane.

Why is this happening now?

Since Brexit, says Murphy, many removal vans coming from the UK had been using a “loophole” to avoid having to file a T1 form by declaring France as their final destination, even when it wasn’t.

Vehicles coming from the UK would simultaneously submit an export declaration to the UK authorities and an import declaration to the French authorities, providing a French address.

France would give the green light that no customs duty was due (as is typically the case with household moves), and the vehicle could enter the country and then proceed on to its final EU destination with no issues.

READ ALSO: Do you have to pay duty if you bring furniture from the UK to France?

Now, France appears to be closing the loophole by saying it will no longer allow this practice.

“France are now saying these are not destined for France, so do not import them into France: use the T1 to transit through France and import them into the country you’re going to,” says Murphy.

How does this affect people moving from the UK to Europe?

If you’re moving from the UK to, say, France or the Netherlands, this likely won’t affect you at all as you can travel to these countries directly (remember that the T1 is only needed when moving goods within the EU customs union).

Those moving from the UK to Spain and driving over via France, though, will now need to open a T1 form.

You can’t simply fill the form out yourself. It isn’t accessible to private individuals as it requires special software, so you’ll need to pay a freight forwarder, customs agent or removal company to do it for you.

If a moving company is handling your items, they should take care of this process for you. If you’re moving your items yourself (see below) you’ll still need to pay someone to open your T1 form.

This means you’ll incur additional costs; some say they’ve been quoted €100, but if you shop around, Murphy says, you might be able to get a better deal. 

This fee isn’t just for providing an administrative service, he adds, but because the company that opens the T1 also accepts liability for paying the potential customs debt if the goods go missing (if no customs duty is due, you could reasonably expect to pay less).

You might also experience some delays with your delivery, as a T1 must be “discharged” when the goods arrive in their destination country.

This means that before the delivery can be completed, the courier or moving company first has to go either to a customs office or an approved location known as an “authorised consignee” to report the cargo’s arrival and close out the T1.

Given that customs offices tend to have very limited opening hours, some couriers have raised concerns that this could create a major headache – but Murphy says in reality it shouldn’t result in any significant hold-ups, as there are numerous authorised consignee locations that can be used 24/7.

Companies that have any kind of base in the destination country (such as a warehouse or depot) can apply for these to become authorised premises, and you also can pay to use someone else’s authorised consignee location.

The following two articles explain in detail how Britons can import their belongings into Spain.

As mentioned above, you can’t fill this form out yourself even if you’re moving your household goods independently.

The company or customs agent that opens your T1 form should provide you with a numerical code known as a Movement Reference Number, or MRN, that you will need in order to close out the form on arrival in Spain.

The customs office or authorised consignee where you want to discharge your T1 must be listed on the form at the time of filing, so you’ll need to set this up in advance.

Overall, while the T1 form requirement will likely add some extra fees, bureaucracy, and possible delays for people relocating from the UK to Spain, it’s far from being a major obstacle to a house move.

The T1 “is not an overly complex process,” says Murphy; “it’s just an extra step.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members

MOVING TO SPAIN

Nine key points to consider when moving to Spain

Language, renting, red tape - there are many things you should factor in before and during your move to Spain. These tips from a relocation expert should help you land on your feet.

Nine key points to consider when moving to Spain

Spain’s foreign community is made up of nearly 8.8 million foreign residents, an increasing number which is helping an ageing country with a low birth rate to keep its population afloat.

More and more foreigners are choosing to make a life in Spain, be it for the climate, the different pace of life or the availability of visas such as the non-lucrative visa and the digital nomad visa. In fact, it was recently voted as the fourth best country in the world for foreigners to live in.

Spain isn’t as cheap as it used to be, especially in the big cities and tourist spots where gentrification and mass tourism are contributing to rising living costs, but there are plenty of other incredible regions which offer the Spanish quality of life, from the Basque Country, to Extremadura, Aragón or Galicia.

READ ALSO: The financial aid and tax cuts for people who move to a village in Spain

But before you decide whether you’ll willing to embark on a new life in Spain, there are several key points to consider and ways to prepare for the move.

1) Learn at least basic Spanish

When in our own countries, it is easy to take communication for granted. Be prepared by knowing basic greetings, and standard phrases (where is? how much is? please, thank you, etc). You might be able to navigate your way in English in more touristy locations, but imagine living in a less central neighbourhood and pulling your hair out at the local grocery store because you can’t remember the word for lettuce! 

Do take advantage of the opportunity to speak a foreign language and push yourself. Write down new words you learn and practice using them over and over again. Remember these are learning experiences that will be foundations on your journey to becoming a truly integrated foreigner in Spain.

READERS REVEAL: Nine sure-fire ways to improve your Spanish

2) Know the time schedule 

The Spanish time schedule is different than that of the USA and most European countries. Most businesses are open at 10am and close at 9pm, but also close between 2pm and 5pm for the siesta, especially in the smaller cities. Weekends vary: while shops are open on Saturdays, a lot of other services are closed. For example, as home hunters we get requests to see apartments at the weekend. However, in Madrid we find that most agents are not reachable at the weekend so it is difficult to optimize apartment options on a Saturday or Sunday.  

As for mealtimes, breakfast is usually between 7.30am and 9.30am, mid-morning snack is at 11am, lunch from is from 2pm to 4pm, afternoon snack between is between 5.30pm and 6pm, and dinner is between 9pm and 11pm.

If you are going out for dinner, most establishments will not seat you before 8.30pm unless you are in tourist areas.  

READ ALSO:

3) Research your neighbourhoods 

Before arriving, it’s important to look into the different neighbourhoods or barrios of your chosen town or city. Important things to consider are: location in relationship to your daily commute, cost, lifestyle, and schedule.

When I first moved to Madrid, I lived in the area near Plaza de Toros because it was located on my metro commute. I realized quickly that the local community was not really in my age group and that most local establishments closed way too early for my lifestyle and schedule. Do not just choose anything. This is your new home – make sure it’s the right place for you. 

READ MORE:

4) Know the cost of living 

Let’s take Madrid as an example. The cost of living (including rent, bills, food and extra expenses) can easily be over €1,000 per person per month if you’re living on a student budget, to over €4,000 for a luxury lifestyle. 

Compare your monthly budget to these estimations, and visualize right now the lifestyle you can afford. Also we recommend using www.expatistan.com to compare the cost of living levels of your current city to that of your chosen destination in Spain.

 

READ ALSO:

5) Be aware of the conditions for renting apartments

Renting an apartment in Spain is different to what you might be used to in your home country. Everything is negotiable – or nearly – depending on the market. In a rental, all the conditions depend on the agreement you reach with the landlord. When you negotiate these conditions, it is essential you keep in mind the standard rental laws (La Ley de Arrendamientos Urbanos). 

READ MORE:

6) Be aware of the conditions of purchasing property

Do your research. Buying property in Spain is not like buying in your home country. Know what the mortgage rates are for foreigners, what you will have to pay in taxes and fees, what the legal limits are, and what the buying process is like. Do your due diligence of legal, architectural and financial checks. Also, it’s always worth asking for the help of a professional.

READ MORE:

7) Get a bank account 

You need a Spanish bank account to pay your bills. There is no other way around this. All service providers require one. If possible, sign up for a bank account before you arrive so that it is ready to transfer funds from your current bank. This will make everything quicker (signing up for services, rental deposits, etc). Do research on which banks operate in Spain, which have personalized representatives that speak English, and where the international transfer costs are the lowest.  

READ MORE:

8) Look for the best phone plans 

Be ready to sign up for an affordable phone plan that matches your budget. Whether it is a pay-as-you-go plan or an 18-month contract, do your research and sign up before you arrive (with your new bank account).

READ MORE: Spain’s cheapest phone and internet deals in 2024

9) Prepare for red tape 

When you arrive in Spain, you will need to go through processes of getting or registering for basic administrative essentials like your NIE (Tax Number), social security number, medical card and padrón.

Obviously you cannot do some of these things until you arrive, but have an idea of what to expect so that you can get this done as quickly as possible when you arrive and start enjoying your new home.  

READ ALSO:

This article was written by Marianne Calvin, a former relocation expert in Madrid.

SHOW COMMENTS