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Moving an ebay business to France


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Hello everyone,

my husband and I are planning to move to Brittany next year, and I run an ebay business selling vintage clothing and accessories/theatrical costumes which I am planning to take with me. As this seems to be a new kind of situation (has anyone else out there moved an ebay business to France?) it isn't covered by any of the books I've found on the subject of living in France. There are a number of issues that concern me, and if anyone has any advice about this at all it would be greatly appreciated.

The most pressing is the question of how to get the parcels back to English customers (who are our main customers, although we do have a lot of Americans, other countries and a growing number of French customers too, and are obviously hoping to have more once we relocate - this really is a separate issue I could also do with advice on - does anyone have experience of selling on the French ebay site and in what way is it different from ebay UK?) in a way that is both reliable and cost-effective. Reports I have had on the French post are not particularly encouraging (opinions on this also appreciated), and from my own experience international mail transactions are never completely reliable - so really what I'm looking for is a courier service. Any suggestions welcome.

The other thing that bothers me is the tax situation. My accountant says the business can remain registered in England - is there any reason why it couldn't? And if it does stay in the UK, would I be able to employ staff in France? Does it matter whether I list on the French or the English ebay site? If (and this is a very big if) I decided to open a real shop in France, could it be part of the English business or would it have to be a separate entity? 

So these are my most pressing thoughts at the moment. No doubt there will be more as the move draws closer.  Thank you in advance to anyone who takes the trouble to write back!

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Welcome along.

I have to say that you would be best served by doing a search, this has been covered in this (and other) forums in the past. There are several ebayers here.

That aside, my take in it is;

Fr & Uk ebay the same, Paypal the same, etc etc.

No, if you are resident in France, you can't use a UK business. It is illegal - you are avoiding paying French social charges & tax. Likewise shop. Your accountant is wrong (if you want advice on French business, as a French accountant).

The French Authorities are (I gather) hot on eBay at the moment.

etc etc.

PS. Can anyone make a living from eBay, in France?

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Just to clarify Nick's reply, it is not actually illegal to operate in France from a UK business. Your advice was basically right, but misleading because it was incomplete. You can continue to use the UK business should you wish. What you have to do is to form a French subsidiary in order to employ yourself, and any other eventual employees. In most instances, this is uneconomic as far as social charges, tax etc are concerned, and most people take the slightly less onerous route of becoming self-employed in France. Or they work on the black market of course, which is illegal, but most seem to get away with it.

I know people in France who seem to exist by selling things on e-bay, but don't know how legally they are set up. I would definitely agree with Nick that you need to get chapter and verse on what is best for you from a French accountant, because everybody's circumstances are different and you need somebody properly qualified and experienced to guide you through the potential minefield of small businesses in France.

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Re. the postal query. We have sent parcels to the UK for birthdays, Christmas etc without having any problems with the French postal service. However, I have sent a parcel from London to my husband here in France by Parcel Force and it was a complete shambles.

I can only speak as I find! [Www]

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  • 7 months later...

Sorry for the late reply, you may well have sorted this by now, but I thought I'd write anyway.

I live in the UK, but I do have an Ebay account registered on the French Ebay site.  The main criteria is that you need a French bank account to receive and pay your funds/charges.  Unless you actually have a French address though, you cannot be fully part of the French Ebay, in that you won't get the discount days etc.  However, apart from that, I haven't had any real problems, and the advantage obviously, is that thelisting is in French which means that French people can read them..

As far as posting is concerned, I have been posting successfully to France for nearly three years and have had few items go missing.  As far as cheques from France reaching me is concerned, I have had two go astray, but that's not too bad in three years.

Good luck with your move and I hope it all goes well for you.

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