What does it mean in France when you ‘declare on your honour’?

When you're navigating French bureaucracy, or more recently the Covid-related rules, you often come across the 'déclaration sur l'honneur' - but what does this actually mean?

What does it mean in France when you 'declare on your honour'?
A déclaration sur l'honneur has a legal standing in France. Photo: AFP

A déclaration sur l'honneur literally translates into English as a 'declaration on one's honour' but that phrase sounds archaic in English, bringing to mind men in curly wigs fighting duels over insults to their honour.   

A better translation of déclaration sur l'honneur is a 'sworn statement' or an 'affidavit' and these declarations have a legal standing in France, complete with sanctions for people who make false declarations.

Essentially this is a document that you sign stating that a certain thing is true – some official forms are déclarations sur l'honneur or attestations sur l'honneur and you can also write your own declaration in certain circumstances, in which case the document must contain your full name, address and date of birth, a statement saying that you declare a certain thing to be true and must also be signed with the date and place of signature added.

The French government has a template that you can use for a declaration HERE.

These documents are a standard part of the French legal and administrative landscape, but have become more commonplace during Covid where many everyday actions now require a déclaration sur l'honneur.

The attestation which was required to go out during lockdown (and is still required for trips out after curfew) is an example of a déclaration sur l'honneur – you are not required to provide proof that you are, for example, going to the supermarket since this would obviously be difficult to furnish, but by filling out the form and signing it (or clicking the box on the online version) you are making a sworn statement as to the purpose of your trip out.

The same applies to people entering France from a foreign country, they are required to swear that they do not have any Covid symptoms and the form states that Je soussigné déclare sur l'honneur n'avoir presenté, au cours de dèrniers 48 heures aucun des symptômes suivant –  I, the undersigned declare on my honour that in the last 48 hours I have not had any of the following symptoms.

But it's not just Covid-related forms that require this declaration, you will often be asked for one by official bodies including the Pôle emploi (unemployment office), tax authorities or social security. If you are getting married or Pacsé (a civil partnership) you will be required to declare that you live together and there are no family ties between the two partners.

The declaration can also be used if you lack official documentation, for example if you don't have house deeds, a rental contract, utility bills or other official means to prove your address you can ask your landlord to make a sworn declaration that you live in the address specified. 

So what happens if you are discovered to have lied on a sworn statement?

Since this is an official document, you can be prosecuted if you are discovered to have lied on a déclaration sur l'honneur or to have produced a false declaration. 

If you have used the false declaration in the context of tax or social security you would usually be prosecuted for tax or benefit fraud.

If you are found to have forged someone else's signature on a déclaration sur l'honneur you can be prosecuted for forgery, which carries a maximum penalty of 3 years in prison and a €45,000 fine.

The maximum penalty for using or drawing up a false declaration is 1 year in prison and a fine of €15,000.

If the false declaration is prejudicial to another person or the public treasury (except in cases of tax fraud), the maximum penalty is 3 years' imprisonment and a fine of €45 000.






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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


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.