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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in December 2021

Holidays, property tax deadlines, changes to health pass rules and much more. Here's what changes in France as the year 2021 draws to a close.

A woman holds up a decorations at a French Christmas market.
Christmas and Covid restrictions. Here is what is happening in France in December. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

Unemployment benefits change – December 1st

In October, changes to the way unemployment benefit payments were calculated came into place. These reforms are now going further from December 1st. 

You must now have been in work for 6 out of the last 25 months, rather than 4 out of the last 28 months, to be eligible for payments. This rule does not apply to anyone aged over 53. The government has argued that this change comes as a result of France’s economic bounce back

Rent limits introduced in Seine Saint-Denis – December 1st

The nine communes of Seine Saint-Denis have imposed rent limits in a bid to make housing more affordable. You can find an interactive map of the new limits here

Saint Nicolas Day – December 6th

In Germany the festival of St Nicolas is a big deal and for historic reasons certain parts of France celebrate it too. It’s not a public holiday but it is a day of celebration with small presents for children, parades in some towns and special gingerbread for everyone.

Saint Nicolas: The ‘extra’ December festival that some of France celebrates

 

France could become smaller – December 12th 

New Caledonia, a French-administered territory in the southwest Pacific ocean, will have its third independence referendum in three years. In 2018 and 2020, the islands chose to remain part of France, but the 1998 Nouméa agreement states that a third referendum must take place if there are two consecutive ‘remain’ votes. 

The pro-independence Kanak and Socialist Liberation Front have called for the vote to be delayed for reasons linked to the deadly impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the islands. The group said they would not recognise the result of the election. But so far, their protests have largely been ignored.

“Non-participation is a democratic right, but it will not have a legal impact,” said Sébastien Lecornu, the minister in charge of France’s overseas territories. 

Energy checks paid out – December 13th 

Close to 6 million French households will receive grants worth €100 to help offset energy bills. These payments will be made between December 13-22nd and are designed to help poorer households cope with the winter cold

Throughout the entire month of December, there will be no hike on gas prices, with tarifs fixed at the same rate as on October 1st. This is part of the government’s strategy  

We have written our own guide to help you save money on energy bills in France. You can read it here

Deadline to correct income tax declaration – December 15th 

The deadline to declare your 2020 earnings has now passed. But if you made a mistake in filing your tax return online, you have up until December 15th to change the following details: the number of people in your care; whether you have paid a media license fee; your revenue; your expenses; your tax credits; and the tax paid on property fortunes (IFI) worth more than €1.3 million. 

You can make these changes via your personal account on the impots.gouv.fr website. 

If you sent your tax return by post and made a mistake, you will have to amend any of these details in writing. Further details can be found here.  

Deadline to pay tax on vacant property – December 15th

In certain communes, you must pay a tax if you own a property that has been unoccupied for an extended period of time. 

If your property is in a zone tendue (an area with a housing shortage), you must pay the taxe sur logements vacants (TLV). This applies if the property has been unoccupied for a year or more. 

If your property is not in a zone tendue, you might have to pay the taxe d’habitation sur les logements vacants (THLV). This only applies to you if your commune has voted in support of this tax. This only applies to properties that have been vacant for two years or more. 

There is an online simulator that tells you whether or not your property is situated in a zone tendue. There are various exemptions to these taxes available on the service-public.fr website

Booster shots required for over 65s for health pass validity – December 15th

Over 65s will begin to need a booster shoot in order to keep a valid health pass. Past this date, if you are over 65 and it has been more than seven months since your last dose but haven’t received a booster, then your health pass will be deactivated.

From January 15th, this rule will also apply to anyone aged 18 or older. 

School holidays begin – December 18th 

Schools across France will close from December 18th until January 3rd, for the Christmas break. There is likely to be heavy traffic on the roads beginning on the night of Friday 17th and running over the weekend. 

Christmas bank holiday – December 25th

In France, December 25th is a holiday. Unfortunately, this year, it falls on a Saturday, so there’s no extra day off for workers.

December 24th and 26th are not public holidays in France, although quite a lot of businesses do let their employees take days off during these days. Many businesses will be closed. 

January 1st is also a holiday, but again this falls on a Saturday this year.    

‘Inflation bonus’ and other benefits – December 31st

People earning less than €2,000 post-tax each month will receive an inflation bonus in their pay-check at the end of the month. Employers are automatically obliged to transfer €100, to help offset inflation experienced in France towards the end of 2021. Some 38 million people will receive this sum. 

Civil servants, job-seekers and students benefiting from French state-backed loans will have to wait until January to receive the bonus, while pensioners will have to wait until February. 

If you are already receiving payments through CAF or MSA, you can also expect to receive extra money around the middle of the month. As a single beneficiary you will receive €154.52; as a couple or parent you will receive €228.67; and as a household of three people, the one-off ‘bonus’ rises to €274.41. For larger households, there is an extra €60 per additional child. 

Deadline to be in possession of a post-Brexit carte de séjour – December 31st

Brits who had been resident in France before December 31st 2020 had up until October 4th to ask for a carte de séjour, or French residency card, under the special arrangements put in place to deal with Brexit. 

The website to do so is now closed. However, if you applied but have been asked to provide further documentary evidence, you can do so here up until December 31st, while it will be a legal requirement to be in possession of the card from January 1st 2022. 

British people who have only recently turned 18 since October 4th, have arrived in France as a family member since October 4th, or were unable to apply for health reasons, can still apply under the Brexit framework, but this is done via their local préfecture, not through the website.

Member comments

  1. Really??!! Not okay for so many reasons, UNLESS a very good reason I don’t know yet—
    Anyone, please?

    “Christmas bank holiday – December 25th
    In France, December 25th is a holiday. Unfortunately, this year, it falls on a Saturday, so there’s no extra day off for workers.
    December 24th and 26th are not public holidays in France, although quite a lot of businesses do let their employees take days off during these days. Many businesses will be closed.
    January 1st is also a holiday, but again this falls on a Saturday this year.”

      1. Don’t know how many, especially in the whole world,
        but EVEN the U.S.
        who lags behind—far behind— so very many countries around the world
        in healthcare,
        time off for important family events (birth, death, health caregiver related, etc.),
        work/life balance (vacation days for full-time employment),
        etc.,
        adds a Friday or Monday to a major holiday that falls on a Saturday or Sunday…..
        Just sayin’….

  2. Exactly what kind of covid test do I need to board my flight to France on Dec. 29, 2021. Must it be a PCR test which can take 3-5 days (but I need it in 48 hours) or a fast antigen test with results in 30 minutes? I read somewhere that the test must be able to detect protein N of sars-cov2; what ever that means. Can you clear this up for me?

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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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