Everything you need to know about sending goods from the UK to France
France is the world’s fifth biggest economy and Europes second largest consumer market. It’s a large and diversified market within easy reach of the UK and selling and shipping UK products to France is relatively straight forward.
This page covers many aspects of parcels, postage haulage and freight to France and there is a handy ‘Quick links’ menu to the left if you want to skip ahead to a relevant section.
Shipping from the UK to France
The term ‘Shipping to France’ is rather misleading as over 98% of our exports to France went by road in 2015/16, which is unlikely to change in 2017/18 (even during and after Brexit).
It is the same for companies shipping from France to UK as the road infrastructure is good and there are a wealth of reliable suppliers out there of haulage and freight service.
Freight to France
Freight to France will is most likely to be by road as it tends to be cheap, quick and effective from the UK. Palletised good are what most businesses are familiar with although some larger manufacturers may send containerised goods.
If you are sending Pallets to France from the UK you have easy access to a variety of options giving similar services but it can pay to understand the way the haulage industry works, especially if you are regularly exporting to Europe. Here is a handy guide to sourcing the right partner for various types of pallets to France. All of the information contained works regardless of whether you are sending pallets to or from France.
Factors affecting the cost of any freight and haulage tend to be:
Weight of your pallet
Weight it typically the biggest factor effecting price so the heavier your pallets the more you can expect to pay around £1.50 per mile although this will fluctuate and its worth get a couple of quotes early on to give you a good sense of price for your particular job.
Size of your pallet
Although most pallets are 1.2m x 1m x0.16m the height of the loaded pallet will be taken into consideration when pricing delivery. Typically sizes fall into 3 classifications.
A ‘Quarter Pallet’ tends to be no taller than 0.8m high (including the pallet itself).
A ‘Half Pallet’ is anything between 0.8 and 1.2m high.
A ‘Full Pallet’ is between 1.2m and 2.2m high. Anything over this will be classed as oversized and will be more expensive and difficult to transport.
The three types of pallet carrier:
A Pallet Broker typically acts as a middle man and may be able to negotiate discounted rates with Hauliers. A Pallet Broker website will usually be able to give you a price online as well as letting you book collection and delivery online. Finding a Pallet Broker isn’t tricky. Results for a google search term like ‘Pallet Delivery’ will typically all be from Brokers who will often give you a price there and then.
A Pallet Network typically own and operate a variety of vans, lorry’s and HGV’s as well as have use of warehouse ‘hubs’ where pallets are sorted for onward delivery. To find your local Pallet Network may require a little more investigation. There are a few major networks that comprise of multiple hauliers so it can feel like chasing shadows but the best place to start is The Association of Pallet Networks.
Haulier / Carrier
A Haulier (often called Carrier) will typically own and operate a variety of vehicles and will undertake a range of haulage work, not solely dedicated to pallet delivery. To find a Haulier it is worth starting your search on Yell and searching under their Road Haulage Services category for your required locations. The results are most likely for knowledgeable local hauliers who will be happy to help you.
Next day pallet
Next day pallet delivery may require a dedicated vehicle which will come at a premium price. You will need to speak to a local haulier to arrange this as they will have their own vehicles they can use or will have several contacts who are owner drivers/owner operators who undertake this kind of work at competitive rates.
Couriers & Parcels to France
If your parcel weighs less than 30kg the cheapest way to send it to France is with a parcel courier and delivery times will usually be 2-3 days.
When sending parcels to France from the UK (or from France to the UK) you have easy access to a variety of courier options however service levels range from excellent to appalling and there are some things you can do to protect yourself from misadventure.
Make sure you include as much contact information as you can for the recipient. A mobile number and email address are ideal as the local depot will use this if they have any difficulties locating the property or recipient. Without it, if the courier has any problems making delivery you will either get a call for the expectant recipient asking where their item is or worse, it will be returned to you and land on your doorstep (if you’re in when they try to return it).
Most reliable courier to France
If you are after a reliable service DPD proved the best. You will pay a few pounds more for their service than the cheapest providers out there but DPD regularly win consumer awards for their services. The only snag is that they do not deal with the general public however you can access them at places like parcelstreet where prices start at around £15 for economy and £60 for next day.
You can engage a courier for same day delivery but be prepared to pay several hundred pounds for the speediness of delivery. Its worth phoning several hauliers (start your search on Yell) as some are likely to have a network of available drivers able to take up to one or two pallets from the UK to Europe for a good price (you are still looking at around £300 minimum).
French addresses are fairly straight forward:
- Company Name
- Building Name (if applicable)
- Number and Street Name
- Area Code (5 digit area code is similar to the UK Post code)
New to doing business in France?
If you are completely new to doing business in France hopefully the information above will be of some use in terms of your physical exportation. Here are additional resources worth checking out – good luck.