The rules of territoriality applicable to the international transport of goods are different according to the status of the lessee.
When the lessee is a non-taxable person, international transport services for goods other than intra-community goods fall under 4° of article 259 A of the CGI . They are located in France according to the distances traveled in France ( IC § 90 to 110 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-20-50-40-10 ).
The benefit, where applicable, of an exemption provided for by French legislation for a transaction is only applicable insofar as this transaction is deemed to be located in France pursuant to the rules of territoriality ( § 50 of the BOI-TVA-CHAMP -20-50 ).
The following comments therefore concern the exemptions applicable to the international transport of goods located in France pursuant to article 259 of the CGI and article 259 A of the CGI.
I. Transport of goods to a country or territory outside the European Union
1° of I of article 262 of the CGI exempts deliveries of goods sent or transported by the seller or on his behalf outside the European Union (EU) as well as the provision of services directly related to export.
For the definition of the notions of “EU Member State”, “EU” and “country or territory outside the EU”, please refer to BOI-TVA-CHAMP-20-10 .
A. Transactions concerned
1° of I of article 262 of the CGI exempts the provision of services directly linked to the export of goods, the list of which is set out in article 73 G of appendix III to the CGI . This exemption covers transport relating to direct shipments of goods to export countries or territories and certain approach transport carried out with a view to transporting these goods intended for export to these countries or territories.
The exemption therefore concerns:
- the transport of goods carried out to a port, an airport, a bus station open to international traffic, a city or a border station or in the immediate vicinity of the border with a view to the transhipment of these goods to countries or territories outside the EU;
- the transport of goods intended for the supply of ships and aircraft benefiting from the exemption from value added tax (VAT) and transshipped for this purpose in a port or airport;
- approach transport not referred to above and which is carried out on behalf of exporting companies with a view to transporting to export countries or territories goods intended for export, regardless of the place of establishment of the principal. It is accepted that these same approach transports are exempt when they are carried out on behalf of a carrier holding an international transport contract.
The exemption applies to outreach transport services carried out with a view to transporting goods outside the territory of the EU. This provision concerns both domestic forward transport and intra-Community forward transport of goods which are, directly or following transhipment, immediately exported from France or possibly from another Member State.
The exemption is subject to the completion of the formalities mentioned in IB § 70 et seq . and II § 80 et seq. of the BOI-TVA-CHAMP-30-30-10-10 . It assumes, in any case, that the goods leave the territory of the EU, this proof being able to be provided in particular by copy n° 3 of the export declaration stamped by the customs office of exit from the EU.
Example 1: A French company ships goods purchased in Germany to the United States. It entrusts a German carrier with the road transport of these goods from Germany to Roissy where the goods will be transshipped to the United States.
The intra-Community transport service thus carried out may benefit from the exemption mentioned in I § 10 to 40 , subject to proof of export.
Example 2: A French company entrusts a French transporter with the transport from Paris to Genoa of goods that it exports to Asia.
This service may be exempted by the carrier when it relates to goods whose export is justified.
Operations relating to the transport of goods to third countries or territories carried out by intermediaries who intervene in the name and on behalf of others in operations exempted by article 262 of the CGI are exempt from VAT pursuant to the first paragraph of Article 263 of the CGI ( BOI -TVA-CHAMP-30-30-40 ).
Note: Export Mail Routing.
The routing of shipments by courier companies established in France which participate in the international traffic of letters, packets or parcels constitutes a transport service. The service that these companies provide, on behalf of French shippers, by forwarding to third countries or territories, the letters, packets or parcels entrusted to them is exempt from VAT pursuant to I of article 262 of the CGI.
B. Conditions of exemption
The exemption provided for in I of article 262 of the CGI is subject to the completion of formalities which differ depending on whether it is:
- transportation of goods to a port or airport for transhipment to third countries or territories;
- transport of goods carried out on behalf of foreign principals;
- transport of goods other than those designated above.
1. Goods transshipped at a port or airport
To benefit from the exemption, the carrier must present a certificate issued by the owner of the goods, by the shipper or by the freight forwarder (possibly by the cooperative society of road transport companies acting as an intermediary vis-à-vis vis-à-vis its members) endorsed by the tax department of the companies on which they depend and certifying the destination of the products ( CGI, ann. III, art. 73 A ).
The certificate must be issued, at the latest, at the time of invoicing of the transport and mention, in addition to the destination of the products and the name of the client, the characteristics of the goods transported.
As the presentation of the certificate for the department’s visa may constitute a hindrance to exports for companies which carry out numerous shipments abroad, the principals designated in IB-1 § 80 may, upon justified request sent to the regional or departmental director of public finances, be exempted from the visa of the certificates. The invoice or the document in lieu thereof issued by the carrier must then mention the number and date of the decision from which the exporter or the freight forwarder benefits.
For the sake of simplification, it is accepted that the certificate provided for in article 73 A of appendix III to the CGI is not required of carriers who provide, by any means recognized as valid by the tax department (waybill or transport receipt for example), proof that the transport is carried out to a port or an airport with a view to the transhipment of the goods to a third country or territory.
2. Transport of goods to a third country or territory carried out on behalf of foreign clients established in third countries
When the principal established in a third country is a taxable person, the goods transport services rendered to him are not subject to French VAT in accordance with the provisions of 1° of article 259 of the CGI .
(120 – 130)
3. Other freight transport
This mainly concerns the transport of goods relating to direct shipments to third countries or territories and approach transport (other than that to a port or airport), carried out on behalf of a donor principal established in France or of a non-taxable principal, whether or not established in France.
The exemption is subject to proof that the transport carried out falls within the provisions of I of article 262 of the CGI . This proof, which is provided by any means, is the responsibility of the carriers but it is up to the administration to assess, under the control of the tax judge, the justifications provided.
Thus, with regard to road transport relating to direct shipments of goods to third countries or territories, carriers must present to the tax department all justifications likely to establish that the goods transported have actually crossed the border.
The main justification in this matter is constituted by the “travel report” which accompanies the international transport authorization issued by the prefectural services.
This report drawn up on the occasion of each trip by the transport operator to third countries or territories must be stamped by the customs offices at the entry and exit of the country for which the authorization is valid, then returned on return to the services designated above.
The taxable persons concerned and in particular the sub-contracting carriers can provide proof that the goods transported have actually been transported to a third country or territory by keeping in their accounts a copy of these reports bearing the same information as the originals or, failing that, , a photocopy of these.
Proof of the transport of the goods to a third country or territory is corroborated by the production of copies of invoices and, where applicable, international consignment notes or photocopies thereof when these latter documents, which are not mandatory, have been drawn up by the sender or under his responsibility. These documents also constitute proof of the transport of the goods to an export country or territory for transport which does not require a special authorization for international transport ( RM Neuwirth n° 29142, JO AN of October 13, 1976 , p. 6590 ).
However, a road haulier acting as a subcontractor does not provide proof that the transport of goods has actually been carried out for export by presenting a simple letter from the main transport entrepreneur attesting that the transport in question has been carried out on export ( EC, decision of February 18, 1976, no. 98967 ).
Carriers who have difficulty providing proof that the goods have been or are intended to be transported to third countries or territories may ask their principal to issue them a certificate by which the latter certifies the destination of the goods. and undertakes to pay the VAT in the event that these goods do not receive this destination, without prejudice to the applicable penalties.
The certificate must be delivered, at the latest, at the time of invoicing of the transport. It mentions, in addition to the name of the principal and the destination of the goods, the characteristics of the goods transported and, if necessary, any information concerning this destination (in particular the reference to the declaration of export or entry into the warehouse of ‘export). When they are not known at the time of issue of the certificate, the information may be communicated to the carrier, after this issue, by means of an additional note referring to the certificate in question.
Note 1 : Pursuant to I of article 284 of the CGI , the principal who issues the certificate designated in IB-1 § 100 as well as that provided for in article 73 A of annex III to the CGI to Article 73 H of Annex III to the CGI is required to pay tax when the goods have not received the destination that motivated the exemption.
Note 2: The companies carrying out the transport may, for the purpose of simplification, dispense with asking their instructing party for the issue of a certificate. They then pay the VAT due when they do not provide, by other means, proof that the transport can benefit from the exemption. The liable client deducts this tax under the conditions provided for by article 271 of the CGI , by article 272 of the CGI and by article 273 of the CGI .
Note 3: Carriers who experience difficulty in presenting the supporting documents required to benefit from the exemption provided for in I of article 262 of the CGI, are authorized to invoice free of tax, under cover of the certificates provided for by the article 275 of the CGI , transport carried out on behalf of exporting companies and relating to goods which, in the state or after transformation, are normally the object of the export trade of these companies.
II. Transport of imported goods
14° of II of article 262 of the CGI exempts the provision of services relating to the importation of a good in France or in another Member State of the EU whose value is included in the tax base of import. In application of this of 14° of II of article 262 of the CGI, the transport of goods on importation is exempt up to the first place of destination. This purely technical exemption is intended to simplify the application of the tax.
Indeed, the cost of exempt transport is included in the tax base for the importation of goods ( CGI, art. 292, 2° ). The 2° of article 292 of the CGI specifies that are in particular to include in the import tax base the costs of transport intervening until the first place of destination of the goods inside the country.
First place of destination means the place mentioned on the consignment note or any other transport document under which the goods are imported. In the absence of this mention, the first place of destination is that of the first change of load.
The first paragraph of 3° of article 292 of the CGI specifies that these ancillary costs are to be included in the tax base when they result from transport to another place of destination within the EU, if this last place is known at the time when the chargeable event occurs. Correlatively, point 14 of II of article 262 of the CGI indicates that services relating to the importation of goods into France or into another EU Member State and the value of which is included in the tax base are exempt. import tax.
The provisions of 14° of II of article 262 of the CGI are applicable regardless of the mode of transport used.
The routing of shipments by courier companies established in France which participate in the international traffic of letters, packets or parcels constitutes a transport service.
On import, courier companies established in France generally act as subcontractors for foreign courier companies, responsible to the foreign sender for the arrival at the recipient of the envelopes, packets or parcels.
Therefore, the service provided by French courier companies for the benefit of courier companies not established in France is not located in France pursuant to 1° of article 259 of the CGI .
III. Transport of goods intended to be placed in a situation or under a customs procedure of postponement of imports
A. Transactions concerned
Transport services directly linked to the placement of the goods in a situation or under a customs procedure for deferring imports ( II-A § 140 of BOI-TVA-CHAMP-10-30 ) are exempt pursuant to 2° of III of l Article 291 of the CGI .
This provision concerns the services relating to the placing of the goods under the customs procedure. It does not apply to services relating to goods already placed under one of these regimes, these operations being able to be carried out under tax suspension in accordance with article 277 A of the CGI ( II § 130 of the BOI-TVA-CHAMP -40-10-10 ).
B. Evidence to be provided
In accordance with 2° of I of article 73 H of appendix III to the CGI , the recipients of services relating to goods placed, upon their entry into the territory, under one of the community customs procedures mentioned in b of 2 of I of article 291 of the CGI , must issue service providers with certificates certifying that these goods are placed under one of these regimes.
Only the instructing party benefiting from the suspensive regime or a person acting on his behalf (forwarding agent, approved customs agent) can provide this certificate.
With regard to imported goods placed under the warehouse procedure, the instructing party benefiting from this procedure is exempted from issuing a certificate when the manager of the warehouse carries out the transport on behalf of the latter goods stored under duty suspension.
Pursuant to I of article 284 of the CGI , the principal is required to pay the tax when the transport has not concerned goods intended to be placed under the suspensive customs procedure.
IV. Various solutions
A. Carriage of goods with through bill of lading
In the case of the transport of goods with a direct bill of lading transshipped in a French port and dispatched from this port to the final port of destination indicated on the bill of lading, the following distinction must be made:
- terminal transport is carried out by sea or by a similar waterway (transport Le Havre-Rouen by self-propelled motor, for example): it escapes taxation if it is carried out by the company holding the international transport contract, provided that it is carried out on behalf of the importer below or up to the first place of destination and that its price is included in the tax base of the goods on importation. Otherwise, VAT is payable, but the holder of the transport contract may operate, under the conditions of common law, the deduction of the tax which is thus invoiced to him;
- terminal transport is carried out by another means (road, rail, inland navigation): the tax is payable by the company carrying it out. However, the part of the transport carried out on behalf of the importer to the first place of destination and the price of which is included in the tax base on the importation of goods is exempt from VAT. The tax relating to taxable transport can be recovered under the conditions of common law.
B. Transport assimilated to the transport of goods intended for export
- the rail traffic of postal parcels between mainland France and Corsica which is considered as international traffic with regard to postal regulations;
- rail transport of road trailers to third countries or territories when the wagon is unloaded at a station near the border;
- rail transport of live animals to third countries or territories giving rise at the border to an interruption of a certain period to carry out health checks.
C. Transport assimilated to transport from and to abroad
The transport of packaging (particularly casks), of empty containers sent to France by foreign taxable persons with a view to subsequent export of goods is assimilated to transport in transit. The same system applies, subject to the same reservations, to rail transport of road semi-trailers.
D. International moves
The removal service is a transport service which, when it is carried out for the benefit of a person subject to VAT who has the seat of his economic activity in France, a permanent establishment to which the service is provided or, failing that, his domicile or habitual residence, is subject to VAT in France in accordance with 1° of article 259 of the CGI .
When the move is made for the benefit of a person not subject to VAT, the service is located in France in accordance with the provisions of 3° and 4° of article 259 A of the CGI ( IB and C § 50 to 110 of the BOI-VAT-CHAMP-20-50-40-10 ). When this move takes place between a third country or territory and France, VAT applies to the fraction of the price corresponding to the transport carried out on national territory and the collection of VAT is ensured by the customs service ( VB § 340 ).
These services, which are not directly linked to deliveries of goods within the meaning of article 256 of the CGI , carried out outside the EU, are not likely to be exempted under 1° of I of the Article 262 of the CGI .
E. Carriage of carrier pigeons
Transport from abroad of carrier pigeons intended to be released upon their arrival on French territory is exempt.
F. Ancillary services to export transport or transit transport
In order to allow complete zero-rating of export or transit transport operations, it is accepted that operations which constitute an element of the price of exempt transport claimed by the carrier or the freight forwarder be exempt from VAT. This is the case in particular for the rental of lifting equipment, supplies of tarpaulin, costs of transshipment from truck to wagon or from wagon to truck, costs relating to temperature-controlled transport, packaging costs, empty transport, etc. .
V. Tax Calculation and Collection
Article 68 of Annex III to the CGI defines the tax base for transport between France and third countries or territories, carried out for the benefit of non-taxable persons. In addition, 3° of I of article 1695 of the CGI and article 384 A bis of annex III to the CGI specify the cases in which the tax is collected by the customs service when the transport is carried out for the benefit non-taxable persons.
A. Tax base
Transport of which only part is carried out in France is subject to VAT on the sum corresponding to the price of this fraction, subject to the exemption provisions provided for international transport.
When this price is determined (in the case of rail transport, for example), it constitutes the basis of taxation.
Otherwise, the price in question is calculated by applying to the price of transport the ratio between the length of the transport carried out in France and the total length of the transport ( CGI, ann. III, art. 68 ).
The taxpayers are required to justify all the elements of the calculation. Otherwise, the tax would be charged on the total price of the transport.
B. Collection of VAT by the customs service
According to the terms of 3° of I of article 1695 of the CGI and article 384 A bis of annex III to the CGI , the tax on the transport service is collected during customs clearance for maritime transport, by road or inland waterways, when the transport is carried out between France and a third territory by companies which are not established in the EU and which have not appointed a tax representative in France pursuant to I of article 289 A of the CGI . The provisions of 3° of I of article 1695 of the CGI concern only the transport of goods or people carried out for the benefit of non-taxable persons.article 259 A of the CGI .
Note : As a reminder, the VAT due on the transport services of goods carried out for the benefit of taxable lessees and located in France by application of 1° of article 259 of the CGI is self-liquidated by the latter by means of their declaration of turnover. business under the conditions of common law in accordance with 2 of article 283 of the CGI ( II-B-1 § 130 and following of the BOI-TVA-DECLA-10-10-20 ).
C. Additional details
1. Maritime transport of goods
Are taxable by the customs services, when carried out for the benefit of persons not subject to VAT, the transport of goods from one point to another of the metropolitan territory carried out by companies established outside the EU authorized by the merchant navy to carry out national cabotage transport operations in derogation of the flag monopoly rule. However, these foreign companies are exempt from VAT in the same way as French companies, in particular:
- when the transport of the species is carried out, on the one hand, between mainland France and Corsica, on the other hand, between the ports of the overseas departments ( CGI, art. 262, II-11° and CGI, article 295, 1-1° );
- when the transport relating to the imported goods is carried out to the first place of destination or to another place of destination within the EU, if the latter is known at the time when the chargeable event occurs (CGI, art. 262, II-14° and CGI, art. 292, 2° and 3° ).
2. Freight transport by inland waterways
Are taxable by the customs services, when carried out for the benefit of persons not subject to VAT, the internal transport of goods from one point to another of the metropolitan territory carried out by companies established outside the EU authorized either:
- under international conventions, to carry out domestic transport to bring them closer to their country of registration or to the point of loading of a cargo to be exported from France;
- under a charter contract obtained from a French charter exchange, to carry out domestic transport, other than those indicated above after fruitless consultation with the French carriers. This internal transport is then referred to as “out of turn”.