I'm a PhD Student who will come to Toulouse to work on a computer science project. I have one little concern since laptops are especially important to my work, I would like to bring two with me, one is a Macbook Air 13in, while the other is a Macbook Pro 15in, both are mine and used for a year. I have read somewhere that I can only bring less than 500EUR of goods to be exempt from duty tax. Has anyone got the same experience?
The limits mentioned in many regulations mostly apply to the case where a French national buys stuff abroad, and brings it back unused. This they have to declare if they are over a certain value (430,- EURO I believe).
However for visitors to France this is not applicable, as it is assumed that the stuff you bring with you, you also intend to take back with you. Just imagine, that you could not even take a camera with you to France as a tourist, or a laptop as consultant. (As I am, travelling to France quite regularly...)
And in the case of someone moving to France to study the French customs even explicitly state here that anything you bring with your for the purpose of your studies is not subject to import taxes.
In practice you are unlikely to even encounter a customs officer when arriving. After passing immigration you just pick up your luggage, and pass through the green channel, and you are in France....
As I understand it in most western countries.
Generally duty and/or tax are due on items that are permanently imported into a country. There is usually an exception for small amounts of items imported for personal use or as gifts.
The reasonable personal effects of a short-term visitor, that enter and leave with the visitor are normally not subject to any duty, tax or customs paperwork.
Other temporary imports are also usually not subject to duty and tax but may be subject to customs paperwork and/or deposits to ensure that they do-in fact leave the country again.
There are often exceptions for people moving thier residence to a country allowing them to bring their personal and household items without paying duty/tax. There may be some paperwork and conditions (such as not immediately selling the items) associated with such exceptions.
If you are just visiting to do some short-term research then you most-likely count as a short term visitor. OTOH if you are doing a whole PHD course in France then that may well count as taking up residence, which may in turn mean that paperwork is needed to bring your belongings in without paying duty/tax.
The reality is that a couple of laptops that look like they are being used (i.e. are in a laptop bag, not in their original boxes) are highly unlikely to raise any concerns on the part of customs. Even if some paperwork should theoretically be done.