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Coming to France

The French language basics - The Formalities 
Helpful recommandation

The French language survival kit

First we will say hello !
Bonjour ! Boh(n)zhoor

Perfect now let's try good evening,
Bonsoir ! Boh(n)swahr

Good now thank you ,
Merci ! Mehrsee

You may need this one ;-) Do you speak English ?,
Parlez vous Anglais ? Pahr-lay voo ah(n)gleh ?

Thanks a lot,
Merci beaucoup ! Mehrsee bohkoo

Let's go to the restaurant and say before starting the meal ...
Bon appetit ! Boh(n) apaytee

Please !
S'il vous plait. Seel voo pleh

Great, let's ask for the bill at the restaurant,..
L'addition s'il vous plait ! Lahdeesyoh(n), seel voo pleh

Start with this when you want something, I would like...
Je voudrais... Zhuh voodreh...

I would like a metro ticket, please
Je voudrais un ticket de métro, s'il vous plait.
Zhuh voodreh zuh(n) teekay duh maytroh, seel voo pleh

Ok, now, please how much is this ?
Quel est le prix, s'il vous plait ? Kehl eh luh pree, seel voo pleh?

No, thanks, it's too expensive...
Non, merci c'est trop cher ! Noh(n)mehrsee, seh troh shehr

Now you can say that you are speaking a little bit French

Je parle un peu le français.
Zhuh pahrl uh(n) puh luh frah(n)seh

But not completely if you don't know how to ask for the bathroom location
Où sont les toilettes, s'il vous plait ?
Oo soh(n) lay twahleht, seel voo pleh?

A droite Ah drwaht
A gauche Ah gohsh
Straight on,
Tout droit Too drwah
Behind you,
Derrière vous Dehryehr voo

What about numbers ?
1, uh(n) 2, duh 3, trwah 4, kahtr 5, sa(n)k 6, sees 7, seht 8, weet 9, nuhf 10 dees .

Something practical at any time, what time is it, please ?
Quelle heure est-il, s'il vous plait ?
Kehl uhr ehteel, seel voo pleh?

Do you have any message for me ?
Avez-vous des messages pour moi ?
Ahvay voo day mayhssahzhe poor mwah?

Is the service included ? Remember, service is always included in France.
Est-ce que le service est compris ?
Ehskuh luh sehrvees eh koh(m)pree ?

Can you call a cab, please ?
Pouvez-vous appeler un taxi, s'il vous plait ?
Pooveh-voo ahplay uh(n) tahksee, seel voo pleh?

Where is the nearest metro station ?
Où est la station de métro la plus proche.
Oo eh lah stahsyoh(n) duh maytroh lah plew prohsh?

I would like two tickets, please !
Je voudrais deux tickets s'il vous plait.
Zhuh voodreh duh teekay, seel voo pleh

Let's work on the "Classics" ! that's fantastic !
C'est magnifique ! Seh mahneefeekeh!

that's life !
C'est la vie ! Seh lah vee!

I love you !
Je vous aime ! Zhuh voo aymuh! : the "old" way, or just say "je t'aime" (zhuh taymuh) 
he/she will understand! :-)

How are you doing ?
Comment allez vous ? Kohmah(n) ahlay voo?



All citizens need a valid passport and a visa to enter France. For stay shorter than three months, the only exceptions are for the citizens of the United States of America, Japan, Canada, for the citizens of the Europe'on Economic Community (EEC) countries, for the citizens of Andorra Austria, Czechoslovakia, Cyprus, Finland, the Holy See Hungary Iceland Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as for the citizens of the Republic of Korea and New Zealand, In any case, please check with the nearest French Consulate.

The customs

When entering France, you must declare goods that you carry with you and pay customs duty on them. The folloowings are the exceptions:

Personal belongings

Any personal belongings (including bicycles, sports equipment and accessories) that are currently being used are allowed without formality - whether they are contained in your luggage or not - and provided their nature and quantity do not imply any commercial aim. These items cannot be sold or given away in France and must be re-exported.

Tax free allowances

The tax free concession is decided by the European Economic Community (EEC). No duty applies to the following items:

Special Formalities:

* Articles made of gold or containing gold are subject tostandard custom formalities, except personal jewellery importedby individuals, i.e. tourists. For arms and ammunition, an import authorisation must beissued by Customs Headquarters after approval by the appropriateMinistry.
The following are strictly prohibited: narcotics,copyright infringe ments, fakes and counterfeits, weapons andammunition unless an import authorisation is produced.

The Green Disk

If you cross the border into France from Belgium, Germany,Luxembourg and the Netherlands by car, you may proceed withoutstopping, provided you only carry law-abiding EEC nationals,money and live animals which can be lawfully allowed into Francewithout special permission. To benefit from this facility, please display visibly on your windscreen a green disk of adiameter of at least 8 centimetres (3.2 inches), and driveslowly through border controls.


There are no formalities when you arrive in France as a touriststaying no longer than a maximum period of six months. This alsoapplies to the import of:

  • a private car, a vehicle for camping (trailer or caravanette)or a vehicle adapted to tow a caravan, a motorcycle of acapacity above 50 cc or a plane.

  • bicycles, motorcycles or mopeds with a capacity of less than50 cc in current use. All these means of transport
    must bere-exported within the usual six month period.

Insurance : Under French law, all land motor vehicles, as well as trailersor semi trailers, must be covered by an insurance. However, theFrench customs no longer control car insurance for vehicles registered in the following countries:
- EEC countries,
- Austria, Finland, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway, Sweden,Switzerland, Czechoslovakia.

Fuel : Fuel in the vehicle tank is exempt from tax. Up to 10 litres offuel will also be allowed in a spare can.

Pleasure Craft

* Arrival at a seaport: no particular formalities. However, youmust keep on board the vessel's registration papers.
* Arrival at a riverport or land border: only the vessel'sregistration papers are required for pleasure craft belonging toa tourist and for out board motors belonging to those vessels. In both cases, if the vessel stays in France for a total of sixmonths in any period of twelve months, it must be:
* either re-exported,
* or permanently imported (and duties and taxes paid).
Vessels must not be lent or hired to other people during theirstay in France.

Means of payment

Import and export of currency, travellers cheques, negotiable instruments, etc, are free from restriction, provided that, whentheir value is equivalent to 50,000FF or more, they are declaredat the French customs.These restrictions and requirements for declaration include : notes, cheques, travellers cheques, letters of credit, bills of exchange, bearer bonds, giro cheques, stocks and shares certificates, bullion, gold and silver coins quoted on theofficial exchange.

Purchases in France

Goods may be purchased in France free of value-added tax (VAT) for export (see under "Duty Free Sales"). Information on thismatter can be obtained from:
* the shops selling tax-free goods,
* the customs, who will supply you with the leaflet on tax-freepurchases. The sale in France of precious metals, jewels, worksof art, collector's items and antiques is subject to a 7% tax (7.5 % in the case of precious metals). You may be asked to pay this tax when you leave France, unless you can prove with aninvoice that you purchased the goods from a professional dealeror that the tax has been paid by the vendor.

For further details, please contact a customs information center:
Paris : Tel.: (1)
Lyon: Tel.:
Bordeaux: Tel.: Extension 153.
Marseille : Tel.:
Nantes: Tel.:
Strasbourg: Tel.: Extension 211.

Duty-Free Sales

Visitors to France may have the French value-added tax (VAT)deducted from goods bought in the country. In France, VAT is called "TVA" (for "taxe a la valeur ajoutee"). Its rate is currently 19,6%. Note that not all shops apply the duty-free salessystem.

Who benefits from the duty-free sales?

Any person (15 years old and over) who is resident abroad whenpurchasing the goods and travelling through France for less thansix months. At the time of purchase you must be able, as aforeigner, to prove your identity with a passport or legalidentity document. These facilities do not apply to embassy staff and similar categories, students and trainees andimmigrant workers (even if they return to their country oforigin permanently) who are resident in France.

What goods can you buy duty-free?

Everything, except the following :
* Food stuffs, either solid or liquid.
* Tobacco.
* Medicines.
* Fire arms (however, smooth bore shotguns and range rifles,firing guns and small hand guns may be bought duty-free).
* Unset game.
* Works of art, collector's items and antiques. Nevertheless,you may buy tax-free contemporary works of art in certain cases.  Information is available from the
"Comite Professionnel desGaleries d'Art" : 5, rue Quentin-Bauchard, 75008 Paris
Tel.: (1) - (1) - Fax.: (1)
* Private means of transport, cars, boats, planes and thecorresponding spares and equipment. However, car-radios andcassette players, as well as sports articles such as bicycles,sailing and surfing boards, may be bought duty-free.
* Purchases of a commercial nature (such as made in large amounts).

How can you claim duty-free allowances?

At the time of purchase, the sales-person will give you an"export sales invoice" ("bordereau" in French) made up of threepages, which you sign and have validated in the following way :  if you are a resident in the EEC:
Yellow invoice : 2 yellow pages, 1 green page.
When you reach your home border:
* Have the three pages validated by the customs or inland Revenue Services of your home country which may charge taxes andduties.
* Mail back both yellow pages to : Bureau des Douanes de Paris-La-Chapelle, 61, rue de la Chapelle,75018 Paris
* Keep the green page in case of dispute.

If you are resident in any other country : Pink invoice : 2 pink pages, 1 green page. Upon leaving French territory :
* Show your goods and the 3 pages to the French Exit Customs,together with the stamped envelope provided by the shop. But ifyou leave the country by train, have your 3 pages validated bythe Customs on board the train.
* French Customs will keep both pink pages and will give you thevalidated green page.
* Keep the green page in case of dispute.

Having checked, the French Customs will send a yellow or pinkpage to the shop which will, according to your instructions(home address, private bank account number), refund you theamount appearing on space B3 of the page. In certain cases,refund can be operated directly at the time of purchase.However, this does not exempt you from the above formalities.

How much must you purchase to claim duty-free allowances?

The purchases, inclusive of tax, from any single store must atleast amount to :
If you are resident in the EEC (Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg,Portugal, Spain, Irish Republic, Netherlands and United Kingdom):
4,200 FF per item either single or made up of different parts(cutlery suits, pendants, table ware).  If you are resident in any other country (Countries other than those in the EEC and the following: the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Andorra, the territorial community of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, the Faroe Islands, the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla): 2,000 FF, whatever the amount of items.

Dogs and Cats

* Animals under three months old are not allowed into France.
* Dogs and cats over three months old, travelling with a visitorto France, are allowed in under certain restrictions:
- maximum number authorised: three animals of which one puppy atthe most (between three and six months) are permitted.
- rabies vaccination certificate : delivered by a veterinarydoctor of the animal's country of origin attesting that the animal was vaccinated one month ago or more, but less than oneyear ago, or that the animal has been re-vaccinated within theyear.
- if, in the country, no case of rabies has been registered inthe past three years, the certificate mentioned above can bereplaced by a certificate delivered by a veterinary doctor from the country of origin, stating that:
- the animal is in good health ;
- no case of rabies has been registered in that country in, atleast, the past three years;
- the animal has remained in that country for the past sixmonths, or from its birth.

* For more than three cats or dogs, a prior officialauthorisation is necessary. Requests must be addressed to:
Ministere de I'Agriculture et de la Foret
Direction Generale de I'Alimentation Bureaux des Echanges Internationaux
175, rue du Chevaleret,75 Paris Cedex 13
Tel.:(1) - Ext. 54 85.


There are no particular customs formalities for small quantitiesof food products brought into France by tourists.
Example: 1 kgof honey, the same for flowers. However, temporary restrictionscan be established by the French customs authorities. Beforedeparture, check with the nearest French Consulate.

The French language basics, formalities, Helpful recommandations



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