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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes about life in France in September 2021?

As France reluctantly leaves the beach and heads back to work and school, here's what changes in September.

What changes about life in France in September 2021?
All images: AFP

La rentrée

The new school year starts on Thursday, September 2nd, while universities start their new academic year later in the month. Both schools and universities have a strict health protocol in place, but both will begin the year with full in-person teaching. Health passports will not be required and while vaccine centres will be set up for both school pupils and students, vaccines will not be compulsory for either pupils or teachers.

La rentrée means more than just schools going back though, it’s when a large chunk of the French workforce returns from holidays, while parliament and the business of government resumes in earnest.

READ ALSO Why ‘la rentrée’ means so much more than jut a new school year

Health passport extensions

The health passport is already in place for most people, with proof of either vaccination, recent recovery from Covid or a negative test required to enter a range of venues, including cafés, bars, sports stadiums, museums and hospitals – find the full list HERE.

However, there had been a couple of exemptions which will end in September. From September 1st the health passport will be required for employees at health pass venues, as well as visitors. For staff members this more or less amounts to compulsory vaccination, unless they are willing to take a Covid test every three days. From October ‘convenience tests’ will also cease to be free.

At present the health passport is required only for over-18s, but that changes on September 30th, when it will be required for over 12s. France has been vaccinating its teenagers since June, but for visitors from countries that are not yet vaccinating under-18s this could present a problem.

Health Minister Olivier Véran has already warned that health pass requirements may continue beyond the current limit date of November 15th.

Compulsory vaccines for health workers

Vaccinations are compulsory for healthcare workers – this covers all workers in the health or care sector, as well as volunteers working in those sectors.

Health workers have until September 15th to get vaccinated, after that unvaccinated workers will not be permitted to work and will not be paid, although they cannot be sacked simply for being unvaccinated. Prime Minister Jean Castex said that, as of August 26th, 83 percent of health workers were vaccinated.

Vaccine booster shots

France will begin giving a third dose of the vaccine to high risk groups in September.

Bookings open on August 30th for the first appointments from September 1st for people aged 65 or over or in a high-risk group.

From September 13th a third vaccination campaign will begin in Ehpad nursing homes.

Reader question: How can I get my Covid booster shot?

Final Brexit deadline

UK nationals who were living in France before December 31st 2020 have until September 30th to apply for a carte de séjour residency permit. This deadline has already been extended once (from June 30th) so is unlikely to be extended again. Brits who fail to apply for the residency card in time become undocumented migrants, so this is a very important date to know about and tell any Brits that you know.

You can find out how to make the application HERE.

New travel rules to UK

September 30th also marks the day that national ID cards will no longer be accepted for travel into the UK. So if you are travelling to the UK with French partner, friend or relative, remind them that they will need a passport after this date.

La chasse

The hunting season in France opens in September – exact start dates vary between areas but it begins from September 12th. For more details on the hunting calendar and how to stay safe in rural areas when la chasse is about, click here.

Consultations on pension reform

Discussions restart between the government and unions on pension reform in September. At issue are major changes to the French pension system, a highly controversial topic which lead to almost two months of transport strikes back in December 2019 and January 2020. In the face of determined protest some of the original proposals have been changed, and Macron has also vowed not to implement big changes while the economic effects of the pandemic are still being felt (which is likely to mean they don’t come into effect before the presidential election in April 2022).

Restaurant vouchers extension

If you benefit from tickets restos through your work, you can continue to use old ones. September 1st was originally the deadline for all vouchers received in 2020 to be used by, however the government has decided to extend this until February 2022, because the health situation has meant that many people were not in a position to use up their unspent vouchers. The maximum spend per meal will also remain at €38, before going back to the usual limit of €19 in February.

Gas prices rise

Tariffs for household gas will rise on September 1st. The increase will be 2.7 percent for households which use gas for cooking, 5.5 percent for those who have dual use, cooking and hot water, and 9 percent for households that have gas central heating, the energy regulator has announced. An unprecedented single-month increase, the price hike was blamed on a global rise in gas prices linked to the economic recovery after the pandemic.

No change to medical costs

A new fee for emergency medical treatment in France was due to be introduced on September 1st, but has now been postponed until 2022 – find out about how it works here.

Reduction in furlough payments

For any employees who are still on chômage partiel (furlough) as a result of the pandemic, the proportion of their salary that the government reimburses falls from September 1st. From a previous rate of 72 percent of their gross monthly salary, this falls to 60 percent. The government has also reduced the rate paid to companies affected.

High school grants open

Any students studying at a lycée (high school) in the next academic year are entitled to apply for a bourse (grant) to help with the cost of studying. The grant varies depending on the level of study and the income of the student or their parents up to a maximum of €936 and is paid in three installments throughout the year. Applications for the grant can be done online from September 2nd to October 21st.

Tax-at-source rates set

Employees now have income tax deducted straight from their salary at source, and the yearly rate for this is set on September 1st. If your personal circumstances have changed – eg you got married, divorced or had a baby – you need to tell the tax office about this immediately so they can calculate your new rate. If nothing has changed, or if you informed the tax office of the change in your most recent tax declaration, then you don’t need to do anything.

End of remote-working guidance

From September 1st, the French labour ministry is no longer officially advising people to have a minimum number of days of télétravail (home-working).

Previously the government had recommended that employees split their time between home and office work if possible, with a minimum of two days per week working remotely – although this was always a recommendation and not a rule. This guidance has now ended, and it is between employees and their employers to decide on télétravail days. Health guidelines remain in place in workplaces, however, including masks indoors, ventilation guidelines and limits on coffee breaks and after-work drinks.

Cigarette prices fall

The price of a packet of 20 Lucky Strike bleu et rouge, News Rouge and Gauloises Blonde bleu will fall by 10 cents to €9.90 a pack from September 1st. Camel is also lowering its prices by 10 cents, to a round €10 per pack of 20.

Netflix prices rise

Monthly subscription costs for Netflix are rising, both for existing subscribers and for new members. The monthly cost of the basic package goes up by €1 to €8.99 a month.

READ ALSO 5 Netflix series that will teach you French as the locals speak it 

Motorway tolls lifted

The section of the AP-7 highway leading from Le Boulou in south west France to Barcelona will become free for all motorists in September, although the exact date is yet to be confirmed. The motorway, one of the busiest in Europe, is dropping its toll charges in line with many other Spanish autoroutes. Charges on French highways will remain in place.

Member comments

  1. Hi, what are you hearing if anything about how France will react to EU guidance today on restrictions for US citizens traveling to France? Will there be any changes for those who are fully vaccinated? Any information would be very welcome as I’m scheduled to trace from the US into on Thursday

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

There's been plenty written on travel rules for people coming to France - but what if you live in France and have plans for international travel over the coming months? We've got you covered.

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

France isn’t currently on the Covid red list for any country, so there is nowhere that is barred to you as a French resident, but different countries still have different entry requirements.

EU/Schengen zone

If you’re travelling to a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone then it’s pretty straightforward.

If you’re fully vaccinated then all you need is proof of vaccination at the border – no need for Covid tests or extra paperwork. Bear in mind, however, that if your second dose was more than nine months ago you will need a booster shot in order to still be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

If you were vaccinated in France then you will have a QR code compatible with all EU/Schengen border systems. If you were vaccinated elsewhere, however, your home country’s vaccination certificate will still be accepted.

If you’re not fully vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border, check the individual country for requirements on how recent the test needs to be.

Bear in mind also that several EU countries still have mask/health pass rules in place and some countries specify the type of mask required, for example an FFP2 mask rather than the surgical mask more common in France. Check the rules of the country that you are travelling to in advance.

If you’re travelling to a country covered by The Local, you can find all the latest Covid rules in English on the homepages for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

UK

The UK has no Covid-related travel rules, so there is no requirement for tests even if you are not vaccinated. The passenger locator form has also been scrapped – full details HERE.

Once there, there are no Covid-related health rules in place. 

If you’re travelling between France and the UK, remember the extra restrictions in place since Brexit.

USA 

Unlike the EU, the USA still has a testing requirement in place, vaccinated or not. You would need to show this prior to departure.

It has, however, lifted the restrictions on non citizens entering, so travel to the USA for tourism and visiting friends/family is once again possible.

For full details on the rules, click HERE.

Once there, most places have lifted Covid-related rules such as mask requirements, but health rules are decided by each State, rather than on a national level, so check in advance with the area you are visiting.

Other non-EU countries

Most non-EU countries have also lifted the majority of their Covid related rules, but in certain countries restrictions remain, such as in New Zealand which is reopening its border in stages and at present only accepts certain groups.

Other countries also have domestic Covid restrictions in place, particularly in China which has recently imposed a strict local lockdown after a spike in cases.

Returning to France

Once your trip is completed you will need to re-enter France and the border rules are the same whether you live here or not.

If you’re fully vaccinated you simply need to show your vaccination certificate (plus obviously passport and residency card/visa if applicable) at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need to get a Covid test before you return and present the negative result at the border – the test must be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Home-test kits are not accepted.

If you’re returning from an ‘orange list’ country and you’re not vaccinated you will need to provide proof of your ‘essential reasons’ to travel – simply being a resident is classed as an essential reason, so you can show your carte de séjour residency card, visa or EU passport at the border.

Even if the country that you are in is reclassified as red or orange while you are away, you will still be allowed back if you are a French resident. If you’re not a French passport-holder, it’s a good idea to take with you proof of your residency in France, just in case.

Fully vaccinated

France counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ those who:

  • Are vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a booster shot if more than 9 months has passed since the final dose of your vaccine. If you have had a booster shot there is no need for a second one, even if more than 9 months has passed since your booster
  • Mixed dose vaccines (eg one Pfizer and one Moderna) are accepted 
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