EXPLAINED: Who has to pay France’s TV licence?

EXPLAINED: Who has to pay France's TV licence?
Photo: Jonas Leupe / Unsplash
TV licence bills are set to drop into letterboxes across France in the days and weeks ahead, which may come as a surprise to some people - but it's a tax that millions have long paid, even if they didn't realise it.

This is the time of year that taxe d’habitation bills start arriving – but due to a major overhaul of the tax system, around 80 percent of households no longer pay this.

But the TV licence fee (contribution à l’audiovisuel public), which used to be included on the taxe d’habitation notice, still exists – and it is due soon. In 2021, the cost of the licence is set at €138.

Who has to pay

As a rule of thumb, anyone who has a TV at their property in France must have a TV licence. And, yes, you still need a licence even if you do not watch French TV and only watch DVDs or stream programmes from overseas on a TV.

The payment is per household.

There are some exemptions, however, for example over-60s on a low income, widows or widowers on a low income or people with a registered disability. Find the full details HERE

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Second-home owners

The payment covers all devices in a single household. A French TV licence for a main home will also cover any TVs in a second home, so French residents who own two properties only require a single licence.

Foreigners who own second homes in France, who have a TV or device capable of watching TV, however, do have to buy a licence for their French property – and pay taxe d’habitation on it, too since the new exemptions don’t apply to second homes.

What if you do not have a TV?

If you do not have a TV, you can cross the relevant box on the front of your income tax declaration to indicate that you should not be charged a licence fee. 

If you do not declare for French income tax, you should contact your tax office directly to inform them you do not have a TV.

What happens if you have a TV but say you don’t?

You could get caught and fined €150 per eligible device at your home, and pay for a licence.

Your details – including your home address – will be taken whenever you buy a TV, take out internet packages which include TV options, or subscribe to pay-TV services. It will look odd if you do this then tell tax officials you don’t have a TV – and they have been known to make home visits.

Member comments

  1. They can’t come into your home to check whether you have a TV, as they don’t have police powers. However, they can observe whether you have a dish or aerial. I have one from the previous owners of my house, and have physically severed the cable, just in case they claim I have tv. I am told that there is very little chance that they will actually check.

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