Print Posted By Lost in France on 17 Nov 2005 in Living in France - Moving to France

Essential moving to France tips

Essential moving to France tips


Endeavour to gain at the very least a basic knowledge of French and always try and use it, French people will appreciate the effort no matter how poor your French is. Practice at home, use a computer learning program, French dictionary, evening classes - anything.

Culture & Tradition

Things are done quite differently in France, try to learn about French culture and you will be able to adapt more easily. Some things are a lot more formal, you are expected to kiss or shake hands on meeting and say bonjour & au revoir when entering or leaving a shop - it's considered quite rude if you don't.


If your moving to France and intending to travel back to the UK at some point you'll need to arrange for your pets passports at least 6 months before leaving the UK, even if your not intending to return it is still wise to arrange these in case of emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. You can take your pets with you when you move to France without the pets passport providing they've been inoculated against rabies but your pets will face 6 months of very expensive heart aching quarantine if they do not have valid pets passports. The regulations regarding the pets passport scheme are ever changing so it's best to consult both your vet and defra for up to date information.

Defra Website - Pet Travel Scheme Help line: Telephone: +44 (0)870 241 1710 (Monday to Friday - 8.30am to 5pm UK time)

Paperwork, Paperwork

The French love their paperwork & red tape make sure you have both originals & copies of all important documents such as birth & marriage certificates, driving licence etc. you will need them as well as your passport for all sorts of things from opening a bank account to starting a business.


If you're going to use a removals company make sure they are properly insured and that you've received confirmation of date & price in writing, if you're moving to a remote or rural area make sure the removals lorry can fit down any narrow lanes or driveways.

Top Tip: As well as the weekend lots of banks, shops & businesses are closed on a Monday in France, try to avoid those days to move on as if there are any unforeseen problems it's easier dealt with when banks, utilities etc are open.


Contact utility companies, council tax department, phone & internet providers etc at least one month prior to your moving date and give them the date of your move & arrange for them to read meters etc. Start collecting boxes!

Arrange with the post office to have your mail forwarded. This can usually be done at your local post office or visit their website for more information -

Packing Tips

Now's a good time for a clear out but don't throw away your books - you'll miss reading in English after you've been living in France a while.
  • Set up one room as the packing room and pack a few things up each day, or do it room by room
  • Make a list, number the boxes and make a list of the contents of each box, handy if you need to find an item quickly or if a box is mislaid during the move.
  • Don't make the boxes too heavy, particularly for items destined for upstairs.
  • Seal small items such as screws, picture hooks, shelf brackets etc in clear plastic bags and tape to the items to which they belong, handy too if you're dismantling flat pack items.
  • Keep important papers such as birth certificates, bank books etc with you at all times on the journey.
  • If you have young children pack a separate bag to take with you with things too keep them occupied such as colouring books & games

Travelling with Dogs, Cats & Other Pets

Make sure you have all relevant paper work - export certificates, vaccination certificates, pet passport papers etc with you on the journey. Be aware that by moving to France you may be exposing your pets to new diseases & parasites that they wouldn't normally encounter in the UK, get advice from your veterinary surgeon.

The Defra website has useful fact sheets & information.

Make sure your pets can be identified, dogs will need to be micro chipped anyway but the chip can only be read by someone with a scanner, use id tags as well - include both a contact number for the UK (relative or friend), new phone number (if known), mobile number (in the case of a UK mobile phone remember that 0044 needs to be dialled in front of the number and the first 0 missed, this applies to callers dialing from both France & the UK e.g. 0044 (0) 777555

{loadposition contentad}If you're travelling by ferry with dogs it's normal for them to be confined to your vehicle during the crossing, usually you'll be allowed down to visit them once or twice to allow them to relieve themselves, it's normally advisable not to feed them before the crossing but make sure you have their bedding, bottled water and hard to knock over bowl (they must have access to water during the trip) in the vehicle with you. They must also have ventilation during the crossing, the plastic window guards available from motoring stores that allow the window to be open a small amount but prevent the animal from escaping or the window from being pushed down (it happens in older cars!) are a worth while investment, you can use them again during the summer anyway. Ask your vets advice also on travelling with your pets

If you're travelling with cats or smaller animals it's vital that they cannot escape, this may sound obvious there are many heart wrenching tales from overseas removal companies of owners losing cats, make sure they are confined to a suitable travelling cage at ALL times.

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