Switzerland-France move

Advice please EF'ers as I'm struggling to get an answer from the French Douane.

Once we've got our departure certificate sorted, we'll have the removalists cross @ the Geneva border into France with our full inventory that will include all personal goods & vehicles including our motorbikes, trailer and caravan.

Seperately, if we have no other choice, we'll be driving the cars and towing the trailer & caravan, to get the CH export and FR import admin done @ the Geneva border. And we'll make a second trip to get the motorbikes through the export/import process.

My question. Does everything have to go through the same border crossing/customs office every time? Reason being is that the caravan is currently "moored" in France, so it would be SO much easier to drive to the France/Spain border to do the export/import process, especially if we're able to remotely do the CH export... And 2 of the motorbikes are also in France currently so again would be easier to nip to the Spanish border for the formal importation, rather than bringing them back up to Geneva.

I will let you know by Saturday, I'm leaving the country and my motorbike is already out of the country for a while. I'm planning to drive my car to the border with both grey cards and see if I need to bring the motorbike back to the border to export it. I hope not, it's getting cold.

You don't need to do it all at the border, you can arrange to do it at a douanne close to where you live. Contact them and make a RDV, and go in with all the documents related to the imports. For any vehiclles you won't take to the RDV you may be required to taken photo's of the front and rear showing the number plates, and a photo of the windscreen VIN bar code.

I crossed at Basel and the douanne was closed, so called the closet doaunne to me the following day (not even in the same department) got the rdv for a few days later, confirmed what the needed, walked in with my dossiers, and walked out 30 mins later with my import certs all stamped.... bon chance.

Can I ask you which region of France you are going to ?

We moved to France 5 years ago from Lausanne and we totally screwed up with our ONE vehicle, so I cannot even imagine the logistics with 4, 5 or 6 vehicles!

Because we are idiots and it did not even occur to us that we were doing anything wrong, our moving van with all of our stuff (and paperwork stating that we had a Land Rover) trundled over the border in Geneva on day X.

We drove our Land Rover across the border in Morgins to our ski chalet in Châtel, France on the afternoon of day X. We then drove the Land Rover to our new permanent residence in the south of France on day X + 2.

About 6 months later, as we were trying to get our carte grise and our plaque d'immatriculation switched over from Switzerland to France, we were informed that, according to Swiss law, our car never legally left Switzerland.

We were totally in the wrong and we had to eventually pay upwards of 1 500 euros to get it all legal, but it was a nightmare.

My advice? Speak directly to the douane in Geneva. Tell them what you WANT to do. They will tell you, quite distinctly, what you HAVE to do. Then just do whatever they say. Bon courage!

Why didn't you just drive it back to CH and export it properly?


There is no Customs border between Spain and France, they are both in the EU.

I am not sure what you are proposing?

Because, Tom, we didn't realise that our car had to be with our stuff at the same time, at the same border crossing. BECAUSE WE ALREADY OWNED A HOUSE IN FRANCE and we were just moving it to another house in France.

Again, we were idiots, but thanks for pointing that out, buddy.

Department Herault, near the city of Beziers, which makes the Spanish/French border closest for us, rather than the Swiss/French borders..

I'll be in Geneva in a few weeks for my French visa application appointment. I'll go to the border after that and chat with the Douane directly. And I'll detour into the Swiss export office as well - my local verkersampt here in Kanton Schwyz have been giving conflicting advice so hopefully I get clarity for once and for all from the folks at the border!

FYI if this helps others.

I stopped into the CH and FR douane offices yesterday. Specifically to check whether the Swiss registered caravan and the unregistered motorbike (that was imported into CH 11 years ago, but never ridden on Swiss roads), needed to be bought back the 500km to the CH/FR border for export and import OR whether there was an alternative "remote" option I could take advantage of.

On the CH side - yes, the vehicles have to be seen by the CH authorities in order to get the export stamp.

On the FR side - "we're supposed to ask you to bring them here, but bringing them that distance is crazy - just include them on your inventory list (with all the other vehicles, furniture and personal effects), and come here with the grey cards, and we'll give you the stamp and paperwork you need, pas problem".

I'm now double checking with the CH customs department via their online service, and whilst their initial answer was the same as what was advised to us by the chap in the CH Geneva border office, they have given me a seperate department contact to request an exemption. I'll keep you posted!