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LIVING IN FRANCE

The family benefits you can claim in France… but probably didn’t know about

As a parent living in France with one or more children you may have access to many, many different kinds of family benefits out there. Here's our guide to them.

The family benefits you can claim in France... but probably didn't know about
Photo: AFP
Any foreign person legally living in France with one or more dependent children is entitled to family benefits just as a French family is.
 
But many who move to France miss out on the financial help they are entitled to because either they just didn't know about it or perhaps they didn't know how to claim it or speak the language well enough to do it.
 
“Foreigners often don't realise they have access to family benefits and it's probably the area of benefits most relevant to foreigners moving to France because they are often relocating their whole family,” Tracy Leonetti, a relocation and paperwork expert in France told The Local.
 
As with other types of benefits in France, for non-Europeans access to them depends on your legal status but anyone with working and residency permits (Carte de sejour) can access benefits in the same way as French residents.

 
Here's our guide to help you understand the family benefits you might be entitled to in France. 
 
Let's start with the CAF
 
The CAF stands for ‘Caisse des Allocations Familiales’ and it's essential to know this name because it's the government body that helps families by offering different services and benefits which start from early childhood, including crèche, childcare centres, education, holidays, family allowances, pregnancy benefits and housing benefits.
 
So even if you have a (very understandable) aversion to getting involved with yet more paperwork in France, it's definitely worth the hassle.
 
The amount they are worth usually changes on April 1st and you can see an overview of the 2017-2018 amounts HERE
 
Many of these, though not all, are means-tested. 
 
It's also worth noting that pregnant women should inform the CAF  of their pregnancy in the first 14 weeks to ensure they benefit from the financial help available. Their doctor should complete the necessary documents for this. The sooner, the better, Leonetti said. 

 
You might be entitled to them for longer than you think
 
“Child benefits” or “family benefits” start right from birth.
 
Some types of family benefits can continue right up until your offspring is 20 although only if the parents' earnings do not exceed 55 percent of the minimum monthly wage known as the SMIC in France, which is currently €1,480.27. 
 
France to cut child benefit for most well-off
Photo: Shutterstock
 
Documents 
 
“It doesn't matter if you've only just arrived in France,” said relocation expert Tracy Leonetti. “But make sure you have your documents.”
 
With that in mind, here's a basic list of what you'll need to apply for your family benefits: Passport or Carte de séjour, recent proof of address (EDF), birth certificates with affiliation for every member of the family, social security attestation, tax documents, appropriate CERFA document and your bank RIB. 
 
And finally, remember to be patient. You need to already have a French social security number and once you've applied, it can take three months to a year to start getting the payments (and even longer if the forms aren't filled out properly). 
 
But it's worth hanging in there because under certain conditions it's possible to have benefits back paid for two years. 
 
For more information on family benefits you can go to the CAF government website where you can also do an online simulation to see how much you might be entitled to. 
 
What kinds of benefits are there?
 
There are many, many different kinds of benefits for families in France and they can be divided up into three categories: basic allowances, birth and early childcare allowances and special allowances. 
 
Let's take a look at them. 
 
Basic allowances 
 
Child benefit (Allocations familiales)
 
Child benefits or family benefits (allocations familiales in French) is means-tested and can be applied for once you have two children in France.
 
“The French love families with children which shows in the way the benefits work,” said relocation expert Tracy Leonetti. 
 
Flat-rate allowance (Allocation forfaitaire)
 
Another kind of benefit called the flat-rate allowance goes to families with at least three children whose benefits will go down when one of their children turns 20 (the age limit for child benefit) and is not earning more than the monthly minimum wage. 
 
To qualify for it, the family must be entitled to child benefit for at least three children, including the child who has reached their 20th birthday. 
 
Photo: AFP
 
Family income supplement (Complément de revenu familial)
 
This one is means-tested benefit which goes to families with at least three children aged three to 21.
 
In 2017, this came to either €169.87 or €237.89 per month, depending on income. 
 
Birth and early childcare allowances 
 
In 2004 the French government came up with the PAJE (Prestations d’accueil de jeune enfant) which is essentially a set of benefit that simplifies the lives of new parents in France by helping with the cost of a new child in the family.
 
French parents reported to name police for calling their baby Jihad
Photo: Leah Kelley/ Pexels
 
Birth/Adoption grant
(Prime à la Naissance)
 
This means-tested allowance is paid at birth or when a child under 20 is adopted.
 
In 2017, the grant amounted to €927.71 for a birth and €1,855.42 for an adoption which is meant to cover the expenses related to the birth or adoption of a child.
 
Don't forget that if you have a mutuelle (health insurance) it often pays out a lump sum when your child is born. You'll need to contact them.
 
Basic allowance
(Allocation de base en cas de naissance ou en cas d'adoption)
 
The basic allowance helps with the child's maintenance and education expenses and is paid after the birth or adoption grant.
 
It is a means-tested benefit with payments starting from the date of the birth right up until the last day of the month before their third birthday.
 
In the case of adoption, the basic allowance is paid during the three years following the child's arrival, provided that they are under 20. 
 
Shared child-rearing benefit
(Prestation partagée d'éducation de l'enfant – PreParE 
 
For any children born after the end of December 2014, the PreParE (Prestation partagée d'education de l'enfant) and there are conditions for attribution of this (ie certain social contributions).  
 
The shared child-rearing benefit allows one or both parents to reduce their working hours or stop working altogether to care for any children under three. 
 
Supplement to free up your choice of childcare
(Complément de libre choix du mode de garde or CMG)
 
Called the Complément de libre choix du mode de garde or CMG in French, this supplement is paid to a couple or parent using the services of a registered childminder to help take care for a child younger than six. 
 
And also remember to declare in your annual tax declaration what you have spent on childcare costs as it will men a reduction in your tax bill.
 
 
Special benefits 
 
The French government also provides several benefits which are designed to be used for special purposes.
 
Here they are. 
 
Education allowance for a disabled child
(Allocation d'éducation de l'enfant handicapé/ AEEH)
 
This is called the Allocation d'éducation de l'enfant handicapé (AEEH) in French. 
 
It's a non-means tested allowance paid to parents of a severely disabled child under 20. 
 
In order to access it, your child needs to have a permanent disability rating of at least 80 percent if they live at home and between 50 percent and 80 percent if they have institutional care or care at home.
 
The amount of the allowance is currently €130.51 per month.
 
On top of that, children with a disability rating of at least 80 percent are eligible for an extra allowance, with the amount varying according to their needs or degree of disability. Payments range from around €97.88 to €1,107.49.
 
 
Back-to-school allowance
(Allocation de rentrée scolaire – ARS)
 
Anyone with a child aged between six and 18 could be eligible for this one, with the allowance going to families whose income is below a certain level. 
 
It's paid as a lump sum in August just in time for the new school year and ranges from €365.91 to €399.48.
 
The Back to School allowance is paid out in August automatically if you are already receiving CAF benefits and are eligible.
 
Daily parental attendance allowance
(Allocation journalière de présence parentale  – AJPP)
 
Called the Allocation journalière de présence parentale (AJPP) in French, this daily parental attendance allowance is there for anybody looking after a child under 20 and suffering from a disease or severe handicap that needs constant assistance.
 
You need to have to take time off work and be granted parent's attendance leave, with the amount currently set at €43.35 if the person receiving it is part of a couple and €51.51 for a single parent.
 
Family housing allowance
(Allocation de logement familiale – ALF)
 
If you need help covering your housing costs, this is the benefit you'll be after. 
 
Payment of the allowance is based on the characteristics of the property where the family lives, with the size and condition of the home taken into account, as well as the rent paid and your income.
 
Moving allowance
(Prime déménagement)
 
The moving allowance is a means-tested benefit given to families with at least three children who are entitled to housing benefits for their new home.
 
And it's well worth having, with the maximum amount of the allowance €978.82 for families with 3 children, plus €81.57 for each additional child.

Member comments

  1. In the UK the Pension Credit is available for UK state pensioners on a low income. The French equivalent in the SASPA. Can a UK state pensioner on a low income, living in France claim the SASPA?

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For members

LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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