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Decree No. 2013-417 amending the Post and Electronic Communications came into force on May 21.

It means that valuable contents such as those listed above must be dispatched using secure systems offering adequate insurance cover.

Reaction from the British trade has been cautious so far, mainly because the implications of the changes are not yet clear. There seems to have been little or no awareness that the law was being changed, nor whether the changes make any difference to insurance cover for packages sent to France from the UK or other countries once they have crossed the border into France.

There appear to be two theories as to why the decree has been made: firstly to remove any liability from the Government-owned French postal service and, secondly, to restrict the level of investment by French citizens in bullion.

An article on the World of Coins website stated that in France buying bullion online through eBay "is increasingly popular".

The change was announced on Legifrance, the French government body that publishes legal texts online.