French Property Law for Expats: What You Need to Know Before Buying

For expatriates eyeing the French property market, a thorough understanding of French property law is indispensable. This guide outlines the critical legal and financial elements to consider and provides a comparative analysis of stamp duty costs across different countries.

 In France, both nationality and country of residence can have an impact on notary fees and other taxes paid as part of a property purchase. The French legal system distinguishes between residents and non-residents, as well as EU and non-EU nationals, when it comes to property transactions. Here’s an overview of how these factors can affect notary fees and taxes in a property purchase in France:

Notary Fees:

    • Notary fees in France are calculated as a percentage of the property purchase price. The rates are regulated by the government and are generally the same for all buyers, regardless of nationality or residence.
    • The fee structure is progressive, meaning the percentage decreases as the purchase price increases. Notary fees usually include the notary’s fees, registration fees, and other related costs.
    • While the basic fee structure is the same for everyone, there may be variations in additional services or fees based on specific needs, such as managing the legal aspects of the transaction. These additional services may be subject to negotiation with the notary.

Property Transfer Taxes (Stamp Duty):

    • Property transfer taxes in France are generally the same for residents and non-residents, as well as EU and non-EU nationals. These taxes are typically referred to as “droits de mutation” or “stamp duty.”
    • The rate of stamp duty can vary depending on the location of the property and the type of property being purchased (e.g., primary residence, secondary residence, or investment property).
    • Some regions in France may offer reduced rates or exemptions for first-time buyers, regardless of nationality or residence status.

Capital Gains Tax:

    • Capital gains tax is typically levied on the profit made from selling a property in France. The rates may vary depending on your residency status and the duration of ownership.
    • French residents are generally subject to a lower capital gains tax rate, and there may be exemptions available for the sale of a primary residence.
    • Non-residents, including both EU and non-EU nationals, may be subject to a higher capital gains tax rate. Tax treaties between France and your home country may also affect the tax treatment of capital gains.

Comparison of Stamp Duty Internationally

To put France’s stamp duty in perspective, here’s how it compares to other popular expat destinations:

Country Stamp Duty
Australia 3-4%
Canada Canada has no stamp duty, instead, the country imposes a tax on the occupation of properties. Foreign nationals are banned from purchasing property in Canada.
Dubai 2%
France 2%-12%
Italy 2% – 9%
Japan 3% of the sales price + 60,000 yen + consumption tax
Portugal 0.8%
Singapore 30%
Spain 1.5%
U.K. 5%
U.S.A There is no stamp duty in the United States.

This table illustrates that France’s stamp duty is competitive, especially against markets like Hong Kong and Singapore, which have significantly higher rates. It’s also important to note that while some countries have no stamp duty, they may impose other forms of   taxes or have restrictions on foreign buyers.


Expatriates must undertake due diligence when entering the French property market, accounting for notary fees, stamp duties, and understanding the broader legal context of their purchase. France’s competitive stamp duty rates, coupled with a lack of restrictions on foreign buyers, make it an attractive market for international investors. Professional advice is recommended to navigate the complexities of French property law to ensure a secure and informed property acquisition.


Please Note: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Always consult with a qualified professional when making decisions related to your personal finances or legal obligations.