How things change in France from May 2016

From buying train tickets to the cost of "notaires", the month of May means more changes in France.

How things change in France from May 2016
Photo: AFP

SNCF to charge for ticket cancellations

One of the main changes that will affect people in France concerns train travellers.

From May 1st rail operator SNCF have implemented a change to their ticket cancellation and changes policy which will bring an end to a system whereby passengers could make last-minute alterations free of charge.

Changes can still be made free of charge up to 30 days before the date of travel but after this deadline passengers will have cough up a €5 surcharge to change their tickets.

That charge will rise to 40 percent of the cost of the ticket if changes are made within 24 hours of the scheduled travel time.

However there will be maximum fees of €15 set for TGV trains and €12 for Intercité trains, per journey, so a change to both legs of the journey will cost €30, if made at the last minute.

The aim is to fill more seats on long distance services with SNCF claiming the introduction of surcharges will allow them to offer discount tickets closer to the travel date.

The rail operator wants to discourage the practice of people buying cheap tickets well in advance but then making last minute changes.

For those with SNCF discount cards,  the penalties will be less.

Roaming charges capped in Europe

If you are a frequent traveller around Europe, the cost of using your mobile phone should become a lot cheaper after the introduction of caps on roaming charges.

Telecom companies can only charge a maximum of €0.06 per minute on top of the domestic price for calls, €0.02 for texts, and €0.06 per megabyte of data.

Accepting a call will be capped at €0.012 per minute.

Fees for notaires cut

Anyone using a notary in France should benefit for a slight cut in the cost of their services.

For example in the Ile de France area this cut will be around 1.33 percent for property sales, 1.45 percent for the deeds of a loan and 1.36 percent for inheritance declarations.

When it comes to the sale of certain properties or land, the fees for a notary will not exceed 10 percent of the value of the property.

Essentially that means that anyone buying a cheap property, including a parking place or storage or land for a small amount should see big reductions in tariffs, but for those buying flats in Paris the savings will be negligible.

Driving theory test changes

From Tuesday May 2nd anyone taking their driving theory test will have to respond to a raft of new questions.

Candidates will be shown videos instead of still photos and each person will be given their own set of individual questions.

The tests have also been opened up to outside third-parties so, in theory, it will be easier to get a place and driving examiners can concentrate on the practical tests.

Price of gas falls again

More good news for anyone who uses gas in France.

As in recent months the tariffs by provider Engie will continue to fall, with the average drop on the previous month being 0.61 percent.

Although for those who only use gas power for cooking will see prices fall by around 0.2 percent and for those whose homes are heated by gas the savings will obviously be more marked with prices dropping by 0.6 percent.

Obviously those customers who signed up to a fixed price arrangement won’t be affected by the fall in prices.


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What’s changing about life in France in June 2019

At the beginning of each month, there are many changes in France. Here is an overview of what is coming into effect this June.

What’s changing about life in France in June 2019
Photos: AFP
Electricity prices going up
EDF (électricité de France) will be increasing electricity prices by 5.9 percent starting June 1st.
For the average household, this means that the cost of energy will increase around €85 per year, according to EDF estimations.
Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP
The increase was proposed on February 7th by the CRE (commission de régulation d'énergie) in order to cover rising costs, but the government decided to wait until the end of winter to apply the price hike. Several news organisations (France Info, BFMTV) also cite the role of the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in delaying the measure.
Gas prices continue to fall
Gas prices will continue to decrease slight, by 0.45 percent, in the month of June. The reduction is part of measures taken in January to placate the 'yellow vests'. June, however, is the last month that these reductions are to be applied.
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
Last chance to file taxes
Those living in départements numbered 50 through 976 have until midnight on Tuesday, June 4th to file their tax declaration online (everyone else should have filed already).
Reminder: despite the fact that it’s still necessary to file a tax return, 2018 is a “white year”, which means that, in order to avoid paying double the taxes in 2019, French taxpayers are allowed to skip 2018 except on “exceptional” income. 
“Exceptional” income are sums that are likely to be one-offs for 2018, like compensation for breach of contract (if the amount qualifies as taxable), one-time retirement allowances, income from stakes or profit-sharing schemes that are not part of an employee savings program and capital gains on movable or immovable assets. 
For more information, read our article on this year’s tax declarations in France.
Summer sales
The summer soldes (sales) will take place from Tuesday, June 26th through Tuesday, August 6th in most of France, and July 3rd through August 13th in the Alpes-Maritimes and Pyrénées-Orientales. Dates also vary slightly in overseas territories, and can be found here.
The dates and conduct of sales in France are strictly controlled by the Code de commerce, which permits these promotions twice a year – once in January-February, after the holidays, and once in summer. These are the only times when French retailers are allowed to sell at a loss, according to specific rules laid out by the Code de commerce.
Photo: Philippe HUGUEN / AFP
Consultation regarding fixed-line telephone numbers
The Arcep (Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes) is holding an online survey now through June 7th to ask users whether they want to be able to keep their landline telephone numbers, even when they move to a different region.
Currently, landline telephone users are obligated to change their numbers when the moving elsewhere in France, because these numbers are organised by region of residence (01 for Ile-de-France, 02 for the north west, etc.). Fixed-line users will now have a chance to make themselves heard on the subject.